Special Election Is Valentine's Day Showdown in Harlem

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Eight of the nine candidates running in the Feb 14, 2017 special election for City Council in Harlem

This is a big year for local elections. The mayor, comptroller and public advocate are all up for re-election along with all 51 members of the City Council. While most of those races will be decided in September primaries and the November general election, there is a special election next Tuesday, February 14, in Harlem.

The election is to fill the City Council seat in 9th district, formerly held by Inez Dickens, who won a seat in the State Assembly in the fall. It’s open to any registered voter in the district.

Who is on the ballot?

  • State Senator Bill Perkins, on the Community First line.
  • His former Chief of Staff Cordell Cleare, on the Time to Wake Up line.
  • Charles Cooper, vice-chair of Community Board 9, on the Building Harlem line.
  • Larry Scott Blackmon, who has endorsements from Dickens and Keith Wright, the Assemblyman whose seat Dickens won; on the Harlem Family line.
  • Marvin Holland, political director of Transit Workers Union Local 100, on the Holland4Harlem line.
  • Athena Moore, an aide to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, on the We Are One Line.
  • Todd Stevens, a real estate broker, on the Harlem Voices line.  
  • Caprice Alves, who has worked for the city and in education, on the Educated Leader line.
  • Dawn Simmons, a former social worker and teacher who now works in Finance. She’s the only candidate on two ballot lines —Dawn for Harlem and Rent Too Damn High. She also has the support of the Manhattan County Republicans.

What about the issues — or is it all about who's better known and who gets out the vote?

Whoever's able to convince their voters to turn out has a major advantage in this election.But there are also real issues in the district. Housing is huge for all the candidates — creating more affordable housing and saving what currently exists. Candidates also talk about job creation and education. The district is home to a large number of charter schools so the issue of school choice is a source of real debate. In general, this election is an important reminder of all the things a City Council member actually decides — from land use and rezoning to how the City spends its $85 billion dollar budget.

How can I learn more about the candidates?

Check out this debate on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network. It will also stream online at the League of Women Voters of the City of New York and The Amsterdam News.