One big election loss for construction, real estate in NYC

Kristy Marmorato appears to have beaten Bronx City Council member Marjorie Velázquez

Winners, Losers in Real Estate-Backed City Council Races
From left: Kristy Marmorato, Yusef Salaam, Justin Brannan and Sandra Ung (Getty, Facebook; Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

A big loss in the Bronx marred election night for construction unions and real estate groups.  

Kristy Marmorato appears to have beaten City Council member Marjorie Velázquez, a victory that represents the first for a Bronx Republican in nearly 50 years, according to Marmorato’s campaign. Election results have not yet been certified.

Unions had rallied behind Velázquez, with the New York City District Council of Carpenters among her most vociferous supporters. Velázquez had reversed course to endorse a Bruckner Boulevard project when the developers pledged to use union labor. Marmorato opposed the rezoning that made the mixed-use project possible.

The carpenters spent more than $183,000 on ads supporting Velázquez and $28,500 on literature slamming Marmorato. A coalition including 32BJ SEIU, the Hotel Trades Council, DC37, the New York State Nurses Association and the Communications Workers of America spent at least $240,000 on mailers, fliers and calls supporting Velázquez.

But real estate won its other races Tuesday.

Brooklyn Council member Justin Brannan, a moderate Democrat who had barely held onto his seat in 2021, fended off a challenge from Council member Ari Kagan, who registered as a Republican last year to run in the newly drawn 47th District.

Unofficial results showed Brannan getting more than 58 percent of the vote. The Real Estate Board of New York’s political action committee spent more than $32,000 on pro-Brannan fliers that were distributed last month.

Democrat Susan Zhuang won Brannan’s old seat in Brooklyn’s District 43.

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Republican City Council member Vickie Paladino won in Northeast Queens, beating Democrat Tony Avella for a second time.

Paladino reportedly faced dozens of complaints alleging that tenants have illegally run Airbnbs out of her Whitestone home, despite her opposition to short-term rentals. She has, however, won support from the Rent Stabilization Association in the past for her pro-landlord policies.

Queens Council member Sandra Ung, who was supported by a coalition of unions, beat out  Republican Yu-Ching James Pai and Jin Liang Chen, who ran on the Better Flushing line.

Yusef Salaam, one of the exonerated “Central Park Five” members, ran unopposed in the general election for Council member Kristen Richardson Jordan’s Harlem seat, after beating Harlem Assembly members Inez Dickens and Al Taylor in the primary.

Jordan’s opposition to developer Bruce Teitelbaum’s One45 project was a key issue in the race until she unexpectedly announced that she would not seek re-election. Salaam, who won the support of pro-development group Open New York, is expected to negotiate with Teitelbaum over the latest iteration of the project, which requires a rezoning.

Chris Banks, who was unopposed Tuesday, will represent East New York come January. With support from construction unions, he had defeated incumbent Charles Barron, a perennial opponent of market-rate housing in his low-income Brooklyn district, in the primary.

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