Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
Incumbent Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez spent the final Sunday before Tuesday’s primary election embracing the old adage that all politics is local: advocating for more bus service in Brooklyn, and speaking out against the liquor license for a new bar on the Lower East Side.
Although her office does not directly control these areas, the topics are hot-button issues for residents in the newly drawn 7th Congressional district — which includes parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens — where the Democratic incumbent is vying for the nomination against three opponents.
The four-way race has taken on a nasty tone, with accusations shooting between the candidates over their campaign finances and connections to political power brokers, like Vito Lopez.
New York City Council member Erik Martin Dilan, businessman Daniel O’Connor and Occupy Wall Street activist, George Martinez are all on the ballot in the Democratic primary race to represent the 7th Congressional district.
Velazquez started the day at a press conference with other elected officials and the Transport Workers Union in Red Hook, Brooklyn, calling for the restoration of the B77 bus line and increased on the B61 line.
Then she spoke at the end of a service at Primitive Christian Church on the Lower East Side, where members of the congregation are trying to block the local community board from approving a liquor license for a bar on the corner of East Broadway and Clinton streets, just doors away.
“When we organized, when we show up at the meetings, when we go to the community board, it takes more than the Congresswoman expressing herself and telling them you shouldn’t do that,” Velazquez told approximately 100 attendees, “It takes an entire community.”
Brett Leitner, 38, lives in Lower Manhattan. He’s a staunch supporter of Velazquez. But he's predicting low voter turnout because of the June primary date.
“I don't think many people think of June as an election time for a primary or any other opportunity to vote,” said Leitner adding, “I myself as a supporter of hers have been getting out on Facebook and just telling friends word-of-mouth, that, ‘Oh by the way if you didn’t know, there’s a primary coming up.’”
Lower East Side resident Noah Wildman, 41, said his mailbox has been overflowing with mailings from all the candidates, but he’s more confused than ever.
“I need to read something a little more fair and balanced to form a real opinion because everything that has been shouted at me has left me more cynical than I usually am,” Wildman said. He plans to review endorsements in the local papers before making a final decision.