The Candidates: Early Voting has Arrived!

Here’s your chance to show your Civic Pride in a world of confusion and danger to Democracy. So vote and “keep the faith baby” as Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. used to say — because this is the essence of what we are trying to protect. No matter what your take is on the obvious corruption and even criminality exhibited by those who would destroy our system — its full steam ahead. Vote, as if your life depended on it! Here are the suggestions from a reputable organization that I once was a member of — The SoHo Alliance — before the criminals in the Hamptons got their hands on me:

“Early Voting begins today and continues through Primary day, Tuesday, June 28. To find your polling site for Primary day, click here. To find the days and hours for early voting or for absentee ballot information, click here.

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Although the SoHo Alliance is non-partisan, the fact is that lower Manhattan has a 6-1 Democratic majority. It is inevitable that whoever win the Democratic primaries will be our next elected representatives. 

Below are the recommendations of the Downtown Independent Democrats, DID, our friends and neighborhood political activists. Voters may know whom they want for president or governor, but some “down-ballot” races are overlooked in the press. Thus these following recommendations:

66th Assembly  District – Deborah Glick

65th Assembly District – Grace Lee

State Committee Member – 65th Assembly District – Kathryn Freed

State Committee Member – 66th Assembly District – Rachel Lavine

Civil Court, 2nd District – David Fraiden

Manhattan Surrogate Court – Hilary Gingold

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66th Assembly District – covers the lower West Side, including SoHo, NoHo, Greenwich Village and TriBeCa.

Deborah Glick for Assembly 

This year we have a classic contest between an incumbent who supports residents and reasonable land development versus a novice candidate who is in the back pocket of the real estate lobby.

Deborah Glick is one of our strongest advocates in Albany for tenants’ rights. Glick sponsored and won renewal of the Loft Law. She was the most outspoken elected official in opposing the upzoning of SoHo/NoHo/Chinatown.

Famously championing women’s and LGBTQ rights, Glick’s leadership in passing the Reproductive Health Act has ensured protection of abortion rights in our state. She was the lead sponsor of the Women’s Health and Wellness Act that promotes early detection and prevention of certain medical conditions affecting women. 

In contrast to Glick’s support of residents over developers, her opponent, Ryder Kessler, is a well-funded shill for the real estate industry. Tellingly, 95% of his campaign contributions have come from special interests located outside our community.

Kessler won the endorsement of Open NY, a lobbying outfit founded by a wealthy landlord and heir to a steel fortune. Like Open NY, Kessler strongly supports the upzoning of SoHo/NoHo/Chinatown and the destruction of our beloved Elizabeth Street Garden. It is unclear what he actually does for a living. Yet he was able to loan his campaign $70,000. 

Go with Glick.

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65th Assembly District – covers the Lower East Side and southern Manhattan, including SoHo from the east side of Crosby Street to Lafayette/Centre Streets eastward

Grace Lee for Assembly

The district’s current assemblymember, Yuh-Line Niou, is stepping down to run for Congress in the August Congressional primaries.Several candidates are running for the empty seat. 

The D.I.D. has wholeheartedly endorsed Grace Lee, a passionate community organizer. 

Ms. Lee co-founded Children First, a parent-led grassroots coalition fighting for the safe cleanup of a toxic mercury site in the South Street Seaport. Her steadfast organizing in the face of intense opposition from the developer, the Howard Hughes Corporation, has secured strong oversight rules and an independent monitor for the site cleanup.

Lee ha­­s also worked closely with deaf tenants living in deplorable conditions at a Federal housing complex for the hearing and speech impaired on the Lower East Side, helping them stand up to their building’s management. Grace helped organize the largest Thanksgiving food drive in lower Manhattan, donating and delivering thousands of turkeys to families in NYCHA housing. 

Her opponents’ efforts to improve our neighborhood pale in comparison, if they exist at all. It is for these reasons D.I.D. endorsed Grace Lee in the 65th Assembly District

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Democratic State Committee — The most  important election you never heard of.

Kathryn Freed for State Committee in the 65th Assembly District

Members of the Democratic State Committee serve as the local representatives within the statewide Democratic Party organization. The State Committee sets party policy and endorses candidates for statewide office.

Two candidates are squaring off: Jenny Lam Low and Kathryn Freed. 

Ms. Low has been current State Committee member for the past fourteen years but has not once engaged with voters on party policy. She is employed as an advisor to the City Council Speaker and is a Board of Elections commissioner, a party-appointed patronage position. Ms. Low is part and parcel of the Democratic Party Establishment. 

On the other hand, Kathryn Freed is independent. 

Kathryn was a co-founder of the SoHo Alliance. We elected her three times as our City Councilmember in the 1990s. She owed her job to the voters and fought hard for us, not the bosses. Term-limited, she was then elected first to the Civil Court and then to State Supreme Court, retiring last year.

Freed has pledged to make the state party more transparent, less involved with insider politics, and more concerned with the needs of everyday New Yorkers. 

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Rachel Lavine for State Committee in the 65th Assembly District

Two candidates are competing for State Committee in the 66th Assembly District, Rachel Lavine and Erin Hussein. Hussein has run for City Council and we agree with many of her positions. However, incumbent Rachel Lavine has served us so magnificently that it would be folly to replace her.

For example, Lavine is co-founder and chair of the State Committee’s Progressive Caucus. Just one of Lavine’s accomplishments there was writing and passing a State Committee resolution calling for the banning of hydrofracking in our state, which in turn led to Governor Cuomo’s moratorium on the practice. Rachel currently serves on the board of Eleanor’s Legacy, which works to elect pro-choice women. She first worked as a litigator and then public-interest attorney at Safe Horizon, the city’s largest victims-service agency, advocating for survivors of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. Lavine is the one to go with.

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Civil Court, 2nd Municipal District – covers SoHo and parts of Greenwich Village, the East Village, Lower East Side and Chinatown

David Fraiden for Civil Court

Civil Court judges handle family issues, property damage, back rent, and landlord/tenant disputes. Two candidates are vying for this Civil Court seat. 

Carmen Pacheco lives in Brooklyn but is opportunistically running for the bench here in Manhattan. Worse, Pacheco has earned the dubious honor of being placed on the Public Advocate’s annual list of “Worst Landlords.” Do we want one of the city’s worst landlords adjudicating landlord/tenant disputes? She also has been accused of hurling racial slurs at a Black neighbor. 

On the other hand, David Fraiden, a Lower East Side lawyer and, until recently, a Federal immigration judge, has solid progressive and ethical credentials, has judicial experience — unlike his opponent — and has been endorsed by most of the local Democratic Party district leaders. 

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Manhattan Surrogate Court 

Surrogate Court judges hear cases involving wills, guardianships, adoptions, and the administration of estates. Two good candidates are contending, Elba Galvan and Hilary Gingold. After interviewing both at D.I.D.’s open public meeting, Downtown Independent Democrats endorsed Hilary Gingold for Surrogate Court.

For more endorsement information from Downtown Independent Democrats or how to get involved, visit their website here.


Sean Sweeney


SoHo Alliance

PO Box 429

New York, NY 10012


Stay Tuned folks.

And, keep your eyes open for my upcoming novels: Up & Away, Murder in SoHo, The Gulag, The Bonfire of the Hamptons, and The Snake Pit.

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