After Final Votes Are Tallied, CM Margaret Chin Appears to Have Won Third Term

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Tonight it appears that Margaret Chin has eked out a narrow victory in the District 1 City Council race.

In this past Tuesday’s Democratic Primary, the two-term City Council member came in just 200 votes ahead of political newcomer Christopher Marte. Today the Board of Elections counted absentee and affidavit ballots. Both campaigns agree Chin picked up a small number of votes (anywhere between 6 and 26 votes depending on which side you believe). The board will likely not officially certify the results until next week; the BOE has not returned our emails and calls.

In the past week, Marte has talked about potential legal action to force a recount. His team has been looking at possible disenfranchisement of voters due to shifting locations of polling stations on election day. Tonight, Marte told The Lo-Down he’s consulting with his attorney about the next steps for the campaign. Marte said two other candidates, Aaron Foldenauer and Dashia Imperiale, also picked up some votes today.

The Board of Elections’ unofficial tally in District 1 has not changed since last Tuesday evening. It shows Chin with 5220 votes (45.77%) and Marte with 5020 votes (44.02%). The threshold for a recount is .05 of 1%.

The general election will be held Nov. 7. Foldenauer has vowed to run against Chin on the Liberal Party line.

We expect to have statements from both campaigns shortly.

UPDATE 8:42 p.m. Here’s a statement from Margaret Chin:

I am so grateful to everyone for their support. At its heart, this campaign has been about making our neighborhoods the best they possibly can be. It’s been about creating new homes for people in need while still preserving what makes those neighborhoods great. It’s about fostering hope rather than spreading fear. Together, we achieved an important victory – one that I hope will inspire more people to help their neighbors and get involved in the work to build stronger, more resilient communities.

UPDATE 9:43 p.m. Here’s a statement from the Marte campaign:

The Marte and Chin campaigns gathered today at the Board of Elections to count absentee and affidavit ballots. The final count, according to hand tallies from the campaign, resulted in a 207 vote lead by Chin. Christopher Marte and his team received broad support from affidavit voters, due to the abrupt poll site changes in his home neighborhood and the Two Bridges area. However absentee ballots, largely cast from nursing homes, went to Chin. This narrow margin still indicates the widespread dissatisfaction with the two-term Council member. The strong support for Marte came from neighborhoods who have most been affected by overdevelopment and displacement, such as the Two Bridges neighborhood and the Village. Marte has to meet with his legal team in order to discuss next steps, but he will continue to strengthen his coalition of supporters to bring positive and community-oriented change to the district.

(Map) See Which Areas of City Council District 1 Supported Chin, Marte

Map: WNYC Data News Team.

Map: WNYC Data News Team.

The Board of Elections is counting the affidavit and absentee ballots in the District 1 City Council race today. So, in theory, we should know the winner of the primary election in the next day or two. City Council member Margaret Chin leads challenger Christopher Marte by 200 votes.

Over the weekend, we detailed some of the neighborhood-level results in this race. Thanks to WNYC’s Data Team, here’s a map illustrating some of the points we were making. You can go to an interactive version here.

To recap, Marte won the vote in the Two Bridges neighborhood, where residents are up-in-arms over four large-scale towers (one just about to reach its full height of 80 stories, three more in the planning stages). Marte also ran strong along the Bowery and above Delancey Street, from Clinton Street over to Sara D. Roosevelt Park. His strongest area, as expected was in Soho, where Chin’s handling of NYU’s expansion plan several years ago and her backing of affordable housing on the site of the Elizabeth Street Garden have been widely unpopular. Chin enjoyed pockets of support on the Lower East Side, but her real strength was in Chinatown and in the Financial District.

 

Painstaking Vote Counting in District 1 City Council Race Drags on

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Board of Elections officials are still working to declare a winner in Tuesday’s District 1 City Council Election.

City Council member Margaret Chin has a 200 vote lead over Christopher Marte. The result in the Democratic Primary has not yet been certified because affidavit and absentee ballots must be taken into account. Voters are called on to fill out paper (affidavit) ballots when their names are missing from voter registration lists on hand at polling stations. Each affidavit needs to be verified. This is a process being overseen by the Board of Elections under the watchful eye of representatives from both campaigns. The BOE has finished a preliminary review to identify valid ballots. The actual counting will begin Monday, likely extending into Tuesday.

There are conflicting accounts on the numbers of ballots left to be counted. According to the Chin campaign, there are about 100 valid affidavits and 250 absentee ballots. The Marte campaign concurs on the number of absentee ballots but believes there are many more valid affidavits (perhaps as many as 600).

As a point of comparison, there were 436 absentee ballots in the 2013 Democratic primary and 249 affidavit ballots. In the past week, Marte has pointed to potential irregularities on election day (some polling stations were moved). A recount will occur if the margin between the candidates is less than .05 of 1%. Marte has said a legal challenge is a possibility if the Board of Elections certifies Chin as the victor.

NY1 filed a report yesterday on the District 1 campaign. In the story, Marte noted that he did very well in the area around the Elizabeth Street Garden, speculating that Chin’s support for building senior affordable housing there was the reason why. In the report, Chin said other factors came into play, including the controversy in the Two Bridges neighborhood over three proposed mega-towers. Chin has come under attack from opponents who say she didn’t make a strong stand early on against the projects, which are widely unpopular.

We have been taking a look at the election results in each polling station on the Lower East Side and Chinatown. Here’s what we found.

First off. voter participation was incredibly low. Out of nearly 69,000 registered Democrats in District 1 (which includes almost all of Lower Manhattan), just 11,404 cast ballots. As of today, Chin has 5220 votes to Marte’s 5020.

–In Two Bridges, Marte ran strong, edging out Chin 503-479.

–On Grand Street (east of Essex Street), Chin prevailed but Marte attracted a good deal of support. The tally was 742-582. Chin was endorsed by the Truman Democratic Club, which for decades delivered the Grand Street cooperatives to former Assemblyman Sheldon Silver and his allies. On Tuesday, the club suffered a major setback when district leader and county committee candidates put up by a new club, Grand Street Dems, prevailed.

–In Chinatown, Margaret Chin’s stronghold, she faced tough competition, as well. She defeated Marte 170-45 at the huge Confucius Plaza housing complex, but struggled elsewhere. Turnout was especially low in some Chinatown polling locations. At P.S. 126 on Catherine Street, for example, each candidate had just 40 votes.

As the NY1 report noted, Chin also faces a challenge from candidate Aaron Foldenauer, who pulled in 699 votes on election day. Foldenauer has filed complaints with the Board of Elections, alleging that voters in Chinatown were illegally registered, using P.O. boxes. Chin told reporter Zack Fink, “He is trying to intimidate the Chinese American vote and that is unacceptable.” Board of Elections’ reps said they’re focused right now on certifying Tuesday’s result, not on looking into allegations of fraud. 

District 1 City Council Forum Takes Place Sept. 5 on the Lower East Side

(Counter clockwise from upper left) Christopher Marte, Margaret Chin, Aaron Folsenauer, Dashia Imperiale.

(Counter clockwise from upper left) Christopher Marte, Margaret Chin, Aaron Foldenauer, Dashia Imperiale.

In the waning days of the campaign, there will be one last chance to evaluate the candidates competing in the upcoming Democratic Primary for the City Council seat in District 1.

We just heard from Henry Street Settlement that a forum will be held Tuesday, Sept. 5, 7-9 p.m. It’s sponsored by all of the Lower East Side’s settlement houses, along with the neighborhood coalition TUFF-LES, and will be held at the Manny Cantor Center, 197 East Broadway. The primary takes place Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Incumbent Margaret Chin faces three challengers. They are: Dashia Imperiale, Christopher Marte and Aaron Foldenauer. The district includes most of Lower Manhattan, including the Lower East Side and Chinatown.

The candidates will also take part in a forum this coming Thursday evening, Aug. 31, at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South. It begins at 7 p.m. and is sponsored by the Villager.

Two Bridges Mega Towers: City Council Politics Influences Development Debate

A rally was held in the Two Bridges neighborhood on July 21.

A rally was held in the Two Bridges neighborhood on July 21.

A Democratic primary in New York City is just about six weeks away, which means there’s more bluster than usual surrounding many big community issues. Election-year politics definitely played a major role July 21 at a rally in the Two Bridges neighborhood.

We already reported on the rally, in which City Council member Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer announced they’re prepared to sue if the City Planning Commission approves three huge development projects in the Two Bridges area. Today we’re taking a closer look at the politics around the contentious debate.

The city is now evaluating the proposals, which would add around 2,000 mostly market rate apartments along the East River. The projects include JDS Development Group’s tower at 247 Cherry St.; 62 ad 69 story towers from L+M Development Partners and the CIM Group at 260 South St.; and a 62-story building by the Starrett Group at 259 Clinton St. A final decision from the city is not expected until well after election day.

In this story, we’re looking at several accusations levied against Council member Chin by her political rivals, and claims made by Chin and Brewer about the developers.

Claim #1: Council member Chin should have prevented the expiration of the Two Bridges Urban Renewal Area

City Council candidate Christopher Marte said in a statement released before the rally, “Our Council member knew when the protective zoning was expiring, and she did not renew it.” Does he have a point?

The Two Bridges Urban Renewal Area extended from Market Street to Montgomery Street along the East River. When the plan expired in 2007, limits on the size of new buildings were lifted. The expiration was apparently not on anyone’s radar at the time, although there was anxiety (and even a boisterous rally) about the possibility of a luxury tower replacing the Cherry Street Pathmark store. While Margaret Chin was a longtime community activist in Chinatown, she was not elected to the City Council until November of 2009. The expiration of the urban renewal area occurred during Council member Alan Gerson’s watch two years earlier.

End of story? Not quite, at least not as far as Chin’s opponents are concerned. While he concedes that Chin was not in office when the urban renewal area expired, Marte says she could have acted to put protective zoning in place at any point in the past seven-and–a-half years. In 2012, Pathmark carried through with its threats to close the store, and developer Gary Barnett purchased the site for $150 million. At about the same time, the HealthCare Chaplaincy was pitching the community board on its plans for a large residential and nursing facility on another parcel in the Two Bridges area. The development pressures in the neighborhood, Marte argues, were apparent to everyone, yet no strategy was put in place to fight the looming development frenzy.

Chin’s supporters note that there were no concrete development plans, only rumors. Earlier this year, Council member Chin introduced legislation that would require the city to notify communities when urban renewal areas are about to expire. “Though we cannot turn back time to prevent the expiration of the Two Bridges URA,” Chin said at the time, “this legislation is integral to my mission to keep similar situations from happening again, and to carry on the fight by continuing to demand a full public review, including an up-or-down City Council vote, on the mega-towers at Two Bridges.”

Margaret Chin addressed Chinatown Working Group members shortly after her election in 2009.

Margaret Chin addressed Chinatown Working Group members in 2010.

Claim #2: Enactment of the full Chinatown Working Group Plan could have saved Two Bridges from over-development

Challengers in District 1, especially candidate Dashia Imperiale, have hit Chin hard over the notion that she has refused to support the full Chinatown Working Group Plan, which called for a rezoning across a large swathe of Lower Manhattan.

The CWG coalition, at one point boasting more than 50 member groups, began meeting in 2008 to create a master plan for protecting Chinatown from over-development and gentrification. Along the way, members dropped out, there were fierce battles among rival organizations and many starts-and-stops. Finally, in January of 2014, the Chinatown Working Group came out with a proposal that called for rezoning the historic core of Chinatown, but also the Two Bridges area and large sections of the Lower East Side. In February of 2015, the plan was rejected by the Department of City Planning, which called the proposal too expansive. City officials criticized its, “aggressive across-the-board height limits,” while leaving the door slightly open to a more limited rezoning. Two years later, Community Board 3 has finally convened a new subcommittee to resume work on the proposal. It has the support of Council member Chin.

All elected officials, not only Chin, steered clear of the Chinatown Working Group while members were debating their plan, on the theory that would have been inappropriate to intervene in a community-driven process. Once the deliberations ended, however, longtime opponents of Council member Chin unloaded on her, calling attempts to focus on smaller areas of Chinatown for rezoning racist and exclusionary. Chin was supportive of a piecemeal approach, suggesting that an “all-or-nothing” strategy was unrealistic and counter-productive.

Supporters of Council member Chin point out that any proposal floated over the years to focus on one section of the neighborhood, such as Two Bridges, has been denounced in the strongest terms by some local activists. So while in theory the Chinatown Working Group Plan could have led to a downzoning along the waterfront, the Chin team argues, city opposition and the refusal within the community to compromise, made it impossible. They also emphasize the Council member’s responsibility as an elected representative to get what she can for her community, even if it frustrates some constituents who want more.

The Council member’s opponents believe, however, that she almost always acquiesces to city officials and developers too easily, and that Chin should have fought harder for the full plan.

Rendering of proposed tower at 247 Cherry St., SHoP Architects.

Rendering of proposed tower at 247 Cherry St., SHoP Architects.

Claim #3: Developers have failed to provide adequate information about the displacement of senior residents during construction

A press release from Council member Chin and Borough President Brewer renewed criticism of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and Settlement Housing Fund for, “attempting to reach a secret agreement with HUD to displace seniors (at 80 Rutgers Slip) to clear the way for luxury development.” At the rally, Chin said, “Today we still don’t know how many of them will have to be relocated or where they will even go if one of the proposed towers is built on top of them.” Brewer added, “We keep asking, and asking, and asking,” yet there are no answers. 

The two not-for-profit groups operate the senior building and sold a development parcel and air rights to JDS Development Group. Early this year, The Lo-Down obtained correspondence through a Freedom of Information Act request, showing the organizations’ preliminary plan. It stated that the new project, to be built over the senior complex, could lead to the displacement of up to 19 residents. The elected officials say they were completely in the dark about the groups’ overtures to HUD.

Following the rally, representatives of the development team and Two Bridges Neighborhood Council told us that they’re not trying to conceal anything from the elected officials or the community. They say the construction plan has not been finalized and they do not yet know exactly how many tenants will be displaced. A firm has been hired, they note, to work directly with residents, and any changes at 80 Rutgers Slip must go through a rigorous regulatory process, mandated by HUD.

Months after we published the letters to and from HUD, this much is clear: the revelations created an atmosphere of mistrust between the development team and local elected officials, and convinced many in the community that the process is totally lacking in transparency.

Two Bridges environmental review meeting, Jan. 18.

Two Bridges environmental review meeting, Jan. 18.

Claim #4: A community task force disintegrated because the development teams walked way from the table

Last summer, the City Planning Commission rejected Council member Chin’s request for a full land use review (ULURP), which would have required approval of development plans by the City Council. The consolation prize was an “enhanced environmental review (EIS),” essentially four public meetings to discuss the impact of the new buildings on mass transit, roads, schools, etc. As we reported last December, Chin and Brewer assembled a community task force, which included resident leaders and representatives from the development teams. At last month’s rally, Brewer said of the community engagement efforts, “We gave it a chance, we worked with the wonderful tenant leaders, we worked with the task force. It broke down when the developers refused to meet with the task force following a difficult community meeting.”

No doubt about it: that January 18 meeting was heated, and it ultimately led the developers to rethink their participation in the “enhanced EIS.” But the development partners say they never wavered from engaging with the community.

As the meeting got underway, residents rose from their chairs, protest signs in hand, and denounced the projects and the community engagement process. They demanded a delay in the proceedings to give resident leaders more time for meaningful community outreach (the developers later rejected that request). Many people walked out of the room, refusing to take part in small group brainstorming sessions organized by Karp Strategies, a planning firm working for the developers.

The development teams have pointed out that their involvement in the public meetings, as well as the task force, was voluntary. While they decided against attending future task force meetings, developer representatives have continued to meet with residents to talk through various issues, and intend to hold more meetings in the future. They also went ahead with two scheduled public meetings in March and June. Questions and answers from all of the public sessions have been posted online.  Detailed reports from Karp Strategies included comments from locals intent on stopping the plans from going forward.

The task force meetings were closed to the public, so we have no direct knowledge of what transpired. We did, however, speak with a number of participants, all of whom concede the deliberations were fraught. Margaret Chin and Gale Brewer were listed on task force membership rosters as co-chairs. Residents tell us they unsuccessfully lobbied for top leadership roles within the group. Karp Strategies played a major role in shaping the meetings, residents say, and this was a point of contention. Ultimately, tenant leaders came to believe that the meetings were designed to fast-track the proposals, and that there was no real opportunity for the community to change the development plans in any meaningful way. Making matters worse was the fact that tenant representatives were not always in agreement on strategy.  At the city’s official EIS scoping hearing in May, the task force failed to deliver a joint statement detailing the community’s priorities.

So when Brewer says the task force broke down because the developers walked away, she is partially correct. It’s tough to have a negotiation with a party who is not at the table. In the end, some participants concluded that the development teams were unprepared to cope with the messiness of a community process, in an environment they could not control. At the same time, however, the group was clearly dysfunctional, and members were dealing with their own organizational issues that had nothing to do with the developers.

Maureen Koetz and Lower East Side Organizing Neighbors held a media event on Cherry Street  May 11.

Maureen Koetz and Lower East Side Organizing Neighbors held a media event on Cherry Street May 11.

Claim #5: Elected officials waited too long to make a strong stand

At the rally, Chin and Brewer called on the Department of City Planning to reject the development plans in their current form and to order a ULURP in the Two Bridges area. If these things don’t happen, the elected officials say they’re prepared to file a lawsuit to block the projects.

Back in May, a new group called Lower East Side Organizing Neighbors (LESON) talked about suing the city. In a press statement following the July rally, the LESON group blasted Chin, Brewer and Mayor de Blasio, writing, “We know this is an election year (and) that’s why they are putting on a show. We have seen these tactics many times in the past where they divert attention away from real community-led solutions.”

What “community-led solutions” do they have in mind? In an interview just this morning, LESON’s attorney, Maureen Koetz, told us she’s not contemplating a suit right now. Koetz’s priority is making sure city agencies follow the law. City officials contend no new waivers or special permits are required for the mega-towers. Koetz believes they are wrong. She says no new building can occur in the Two Bridges LSRD (a large-scale development area) unless the city shows there will be no negative impacts on the existing community.

The elected officials have been vague about a potential lawsuit. The City Planning Commission is not likely to vote on the projects until late this year. The plan, being developed with not-for-profit legal groups, is to file an Article 78 challenge, which is a means of fighting official decisions from government agencies.  It’s an argument that obviously can only be made after the final environmental review is published and the planning commission makes its decision.  Koetz may have been first to discuss in public a challenge to City Planning’s interpretation of the zoning code, but it’s also an argument advanced by Community Board 3 in its comments at the May scoping meeting.

During a June 21 town hall meeting on the Lower East Side, the mayor said he sees no way to stop the proposed towers, because his administration has concluded that they are legally permissible. Council member Chin challenged him about that, saying,  “We’ve got to find a way (to stop or change the projects).”  Even if there are long odds in court, at least some tenant leaders are relieved that the elected officials are now taking a more forceful stand. They wish more had been done earlier, but are mostly hopeful that something can be done now to stop, or at least reduce the scale, of the projects. Chin’s supporters say her new approach is not a case of, “too little, too late.” Once the city rejected her ULURP request and developers agreed to the expanded environmental review, elected officials were obligated to give the process a chance. That’s now run it’s course, they argue, clearing the way for a more assertive stance.

So this story ends where it began. Margaret Chin’s supporters say she is fully committed to working with the community, but also focused on attainable results in the Two Bridges neighborhood. Chin’s detractors, meanwhile, insist her advocacy for the community has been far too tepid. This is the debate that will be front-and center during the six weeks that remain before the Democratic Primary in District 1.

 

(Opinion) City Council District 1 Needs Participatory Budgeting

Image from Christopher Marte's Instagram feed.

Image from Christopher Marte’s Instagram feed.

The following op/ed was written by Christopher Marte, a candidate for City Council in District 1 (the seat currently held by Margaret Chin) The Lo-Down welcomes Lower East Side-relevant submissions from members of our community. We review submissions from candidates for political office on a case-by-case basis. Editorials on this website represent the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial viewpoint of The Lo-Down.  Submissions may be sent to: tips@thelodownny.com.

These are contentious times that require unity. As our values are challenged on a national scale, we are required to mobilize within our own neighborhoods. We have heard it at the rallies: the people united will never be defeated.

In 31 City Council Districts across New York, the people are given an opportunity to unite as a base like no other. Anyone older than 14, regardless of citizenship, can propose and then vote on how at least $1 million of their taxes are spent by their councilmember. In this process, an otherwise voiceless group of residents are politically empowered. Participatory Budgeting projects range from installing clean energy, to renovating parks, to improving technology, to fixing the infrastructure of schools, to strengthening public safety. The people are given an opportunity to spend their own tax dollars, councilmembers are able to fund popular community initiatives with transparent funding, and everyone enjoys the benefits of the programs enacted.

Except for those who live in districts where their councilmember chose not to opt into participatory budgeting. Districts like Lower Manhattan (District 1), where political transparency has become the stuff of legends. The diversity of the district and the lack of community engagement creates an environment in which neighbor is pitted against neighbor, demographic against demographic, and any sense of community is immediately dissipated by confusion as to how much the city can provide. Too many residents are led to believe that whether it’s for funding or services, they must compete with each other. However with proper budgeting, and the assistance of participatory budgeting, there is enough to go around. This false perception of division in the district allows participatory budgeting to be dismissed before it is even attempted. But our community must unite to demand this program, to demand transparency, and to demand an active voice in the Council.

Participatory budgeting should not be a point of debate, or painted as a controversial issue. Residents young and old are given a direct voice in government, and anyone who stands against this is standing against democracy in action. Just north of us in City Council District 3, the councilmember fully funded the top 5 proposals voted on by his constituents. People who never engaged in the political process before had their concerns heard and addressed. Now the entire district will have new trees, new AV equipment will be installed in an elementary school, new air conditioning in a library, new arrival times at bus stops, and a new library at a middle school. All needs that the community expressed, all that might have otherwise been overlooked, and all that will serve not only residents of District 3, but anyone who works or visits there.

The major critique of PB is that it requires a lot of extra work for a city councilmember and their office. Since the program is not mandatory, our representative sees it as a choice. For a district that has been riddled by corrupt leaders like  Sheldon Silver and scandals like Rivington House, a clear path to transparency and good governance isn’t an option. It is a necessity.

As we are forced to sit back and watch communities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island deliberate and enact participatory budgeting initiatives, I ask my friends and neighbors to take stock of the difference between them and us. Is it because our district is so divided, or is it because we have a representative that divides us?

Council Member Chin Focuses on Fundraising as Political Season Heats Up

City Council member Margaret Chin was surrounded by supporters at a recent fundraiser in Chinatown.

City Council member Margaret Chin was surrounded by supporters at a recent fundraiser in Chinatown.

City Council member Margaret Chin is stepping up her fundraising in advance of an upcoming primary challenge. The two-term district 1 representative looks to be facing at least three opponents in the district 1 race.

Chin was first elected to serve Lower Manhattan, including the Lower East Side, in 2009. In September’s Democratic Primary, the two-term Council member will be fending off challenges from lifelong LES-residents Christopher Marte and Dashia Imperiale, as well as Financial District resident Aaron Foldenauer.

One evening last week, supporters of Council member Chin hosted a fundraiser at a restaurant on Centre Street, raking in about $12,000 for her latest campaign. The organizers were Gigi Li, former assembly candidate and Community Board 3 chairperson; Wellington Chen of the Chinatown Partnership; and neighborhood activist Jacky Wong. Those in attendance included local district leader Justin Yu; Chris Kui, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality; and Su Zhen Chen, the mother of Private Danny Chen, the young man who tragically took his own life in Afghanistan in 2011. 

Su Zhen Chen, Danny Chen's mother, speaks during the fundraiser.

Su Zhen Chen, Danny Chen’s mother, speaks during the fundraiser.

During brief remarks, Chin reminisced about immigrating to this country from China 54 years ago, and settling in an apartment on Mulberry Street with her parents and grandparents. “I love my job,” said Chin. “Imagine being able to represent a district in the City Council that I grew up in.” She recalled both “happy and heart-wrenching moments” during her eight years in office, specifically referencing a lengthy advocacy campaign to seek justice for Danny Chen, the victim of racial taunting and hazing in the military.

The Council member also spoke of her role in pushing for permanent affordable housing at Essex Crossing, and pledged to keep fighting for more senior housing. She mentioned a new site for low-income seniors on Pike Street, which the mayor has offered up to diffuse his administration’s bungling of Rivington House. Chin also brought up the Elizabeth Street Garden, where she is at odds with local residents determined to fight the city’s development plans. “The site on Elizabeth Street, which a lot of you are supportive of, we’re going to build senior housing there, along with a public open park,” said Chin.

Christopher Marte, left, at a Downtown Independent Democrats fundraiser this past weekend. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer was the featured speaker.

Christopher Marte was among those in attendance at a Downtown Independent Democrats fundraiser this past weekend. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer was the featured speaker.

Among Chin’s opponents, Christopher Marte appears to be running particularly strong. In last month’s campaign finance filing, he’d matched the sitting Council member’s donations (they both collected around $50,000), and Marte had more cash in the bank.

He has been endorsed by Village Independent Democrats. He’s almost certain to pick up another endorsement from Downtown Independent Democrats later in the spring. Marte will host a campaign kickoff in front of the former Rivington House nursing home on Saturday.

Chin, however, has some major built-in advantages, including the backing of the Chinatown establishment. The neighborhood’s only political club, United Democratic Organization (UDO), his endorsed her. The same goes for the Truman Democratic Club on the Lower East Side.

During the recent fundraiser, Chin told her supporters, “We’re going to win it and we’re going to win it big to show that community power means everything!”

 

Wednesday News Links

It just keeps getting weirder and weirder in Albany. The deposed Democrats lock the door to the Senate chamber so the new GOP majority can't get in. The Republicans, for their part, plan to hold court in a park (not a great day for a picnic, unfortunately). And the story behind the coup: the upstate billionaire who just can't stand people who use blackberrys during meetings! Meanwhile, nothing that actually matters to the people of New York is getting done.

Tenant Planet.org says the 1st District City Council race is getting more interesting all the time.

More than 300 supporters of New York's community boards rallied at City Hall, protesting the mayor's budget cuts.

The Tenement Museum staff picks the tastiest treats in the neighborhood.