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(Voter Guide) 2017 Democratic Primary – Lower East Side

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Candidates running for City Council in districts 1 and 2.

New York City’s 2017 Democratic Primary is upon us. Ahead of Election Day, Sept. 12, The Lo-Down is publishing a Lower East Side-specific Voter Guide.

We reached out to all of the candidates running for City Council is districts 1 and 2, asking them to complete surveys. We also invited candidates in two contested district leader races to participate. See below for a summary of each campaign and links to the full candidate statements.

In order to participate on Sept. 12, you must be a registered Democrat (the registration deadline already passed). To find your polling place and to view sample ballots, click here. Polling places are open from 6 a.m.-9 p.m. A General Election will be held Nov. 7, but since the Lower East Side is overwhelmingly Democratic, the upcoming primary is the decisive event.

City Council District 1

City Council member Margaret Chin is seeking a third term representing District 1, which includes most of Lower Manhattan, including the Lower East Side and Chinatown. Chin is touting her record during the past eight years, citing legislation to protect low-income tenants, the creation of affordable housing and her advocacy on behalf of seniors (Chin chairs the Council’s aging committee). The Council member has three opponents, all of whom have sharply criticized Chin’s efforts on behalf of downtown residents and small business owners. Christopher Marte, a lifelong Lower East Side resident, has claimed that Chin is inaccessible to her constituents and that she has failed to protect the district from rampant real estate development. Dashia Imperiale, also born-and-raised on the LES, has accused Chin of having a cozy relationship with real estate developers and of allegedly failing to advocate for a sweeping Chinatown/Lower East Side rezoning plan. Aaron Foldenauer has vowed to stop three super-tall towers being planned in the Two Bridges area, calling Chin’s recent efforts to curtail the projects, “election year pandering.”

Christopher Marte
Margaret Chin
Dashia Imperiale (no candidate statement submitted)
Aaron Foldenauer


City Council District 2

District 2 covers the area above East Houston Street and extends up into Peter Cooper Village, Kips Bay, Murray Hill and Gramercy. It also includes some pockets below East Houston Street, including large developments such as Masaryk Towers, the Baruch Houses and the Vladeck Houses. This year, there’s a five-way race to replace City Council member Rosie Mendez, who is unable to run for re-election due to term limits. Carlina Rivera, a lifelong Lower East Side resident, was formerly Mendez’s legislative director, and has received the Council member’s enthusiastic endorsement. Rivera has promised to battle the affordable housing crisis, fight for quality schools and to advocate for community health care. Her opponents have sought to portray Rivera as part of a political machine. Ronnie Cho, a former staffer in the Obama White House, argues it’s time for fresh leadership in the Council. Mary Silver, a longtime Murray Hill resident, has positioned herself as the “education candidate.” Jorge Vasquez, an attorney who grew up on the Lower East Side, says he’s an independent voice who isn’t beholden to any special interests.  Jasmin Sanchez, born and raised in the Baruch Houses, says she’s bucking the neighborhood political establishment, offering a new approach to local representation.

Jasmin Sanchez
Ronnie Cho
Mary Silver
Carlina Rivera
Jorge Vasquez


District Leaders, 65th AD, Parts A & B

District leaders are party-based volunteer organizers who face election every two years. They help staff polling stations, serve as a conduit to higher ranking elected officials and wield a certain amount of influence over local county committees and judicial elections. In Part A of the 65th Assembly District, incumbents Karen Blatt and Jacob Goldman face a challenge from Caroline Laskow and Lee Berman. Blatt and Goldman are leaders of the Truman Democratic Club, which was for many years the key to former Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s electoral strength in the Grand Street cooperatives. Laskow and Berman started a new club, Grand Street Democrats, as a rival organization. In Part B of the district (encompassing the Two Bridges area), Alice Cancel and Pedro Cardi also face a challenge. Daisy Paez and Ken Paskar are taking them on, arguing that the incumbents have not done enough on behalf of the community. Cancel briefly served as a member of the state assembly following Sheldon Silver’s ejection from the legislature.

Female District Leader Part A
Karen Blatt
Caroline Laskow

Male District Leader, Part A
Lee Berman
Jacob Goldman

Female District Leader, Part B
Alice Cancel
Daisy Paez

Male District Leader, Part B
Ken Paskar
Pedro Cardi (no candidate statement submitted)


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