By Ed Litvak on November 3, 2017
You can tell a city election is just a few days away. Our in-box is filling up with increasingly vitriolic missives regarding the heated campaign for District 1’s City Council seat.
In Tuesday’s general election, two-term City Council member Margaret Chin faces Republican Bryan Jung; Christopher Marte, running on the Independence Party line; and Liberal Party candidate Aaron Foldenauer. Marte, who nearly defeated Chin in the Democratic Primary, is mounting a serious campaign to unseat the incumbent.
Yesterday afternoon, Allen Roskoff of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club fired off a press release, denouncing Marte, “for running on a line shared exclusively by right-wing supporters of President Donald Trump.” Roskoff, a prominent gay rights activist, said:
People frequently note that you are often judged by the company you keep. That is why Chris Marte’s decision to embrace the Independence Party’s endorsement is so troubling. The Independence Party does not support Gay Rights or Abortion Rights, and has given its ballot line to candidates who do not share our values on issues such as immigration, health care, taxes, and social justice. Instead of actively seeking and accepting their ballot line, Marte should be repudiating it and standing up for progressive values.
A short time later, a strongly worded response came from the Marte campaign. In a press release, Jeanne Wilcke, president of another political club, Downtown Independent Democrats (DID), said:
We all know Marte’s not affiliated with the Independence Party, and they’ve given him no support. It was a fluke that voters wrote him in on that line, voters who were likely tricked into thinking they were registering as Independent not Independence. But we’re happy he won it. The 54% of voters that went against the incumbent are now rallying behind the true progressive choice. Chin is having a hard time staving off the community’s groundswell of support for Marte. She’s flailing around, trying to find some way to attack him, but is coming up empty handed.”
The release from the Marte campaign carried the headline, “Lower Manhattan Progressives Unite Behind Marte: Fight Against Incumbent’s Track Record of Corruption and Overdevelopment (in) Lower Manhattan.” While no specifics were offered, activists within DID have a long record of opposing Chin on issues such as NYU’s expansion, the Elizabeth Street Garden and the SOHO BID. They have also blasted Chin, who benefited from third party spending by the Real Estate Board of New York in support of her 2013 campaign.
Meanwhile, Marte is distancing himself from another flyer, which slams the incumbent on a range of controversial topics. City Limits yesterday posted a lengthy “fact check,” examining the claims in the flyer point-by-point. In a Twitter message, Marte wrote, “These flyers are not endorsed by the campaign, have not been coordinated with myself and do not accurately represent my views.”
A group called, “Lower East Siders for Christopher Marte,” lists “Margaret Chin’s (alleged) crimes against our community.” Among other points, the group claims that Chin “worked with de Blasio to reject the Chinatown Working Group Rezoning Plan,” “helped create Bloomberg’s racist East Village rezoning plan in 2008,” and “encouraged Extell and other developers to build luxury high rises with our tax money through the 421-a program.” According to City Limits, “Many of the charges appear overstated or include falsehoods, while the accuracy of others are subject to interpretation.” You can read the full article here.
There’s one topic in particular that caught our interest. The flyer alleges that Chin, refused to halt the sale of Rivington House, displacing AIDS patients in favor of luxury condos.” In truth, Chin and other community leaders say they were kept in the dark as the city administration secretly lifted deed restrictions on Rivington House. We’ll have a separate story next week examining the Rivington House issue as it relates to the City Council campaign.