What to Watch in the New York Primaries on June 27

Voters are deciding critical primaries for mayor, city council, and district attorney across the state of New York, plus a bonus special election across the nation.
June 26, 2023

New York City is selecting its city council this year, and voters there will be using ranked-choice voting for just the second time. In most districts, Tuesday’s Democratic primaries are tantamount to winning the office. Amid clashes between the progressive and moderate wings, nearly all incumbents are seeking re-election.

And there are hundreds of other local primaries across the state of New York, including mayoral races, India Walton’s bid for a council seat in Buffalo, and the re-election efforts of Bronx DA Darcel Clark and Queens DA Melinda Katz.

Here’s your guide to the 23 New York primaries that Bolts is watching on June 27, plus a bonus special election in Los Angeles. 

More races may be added to our cheat sheet through Election Night. The page is prepared by Daniel Nichanian. Check back on Election Night as we fill in each result.

Erie County, home to Buffalo, hosts many local elections such as India Walton’s second bid for local government (Erie County Board of Elections/Facebook)

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Criminal Justice offices

Bronx district attorney (Dem)

Incumbent Darcel Clark faces Tess Cohen, a defense attorney and former prosecutor who is running to her left: Cohen faults Clark for lobbying to roll back pretrial reforms adopted in 2019 and has proposed policies to reduce the jail population.
Queens district attorney (Dem)

Four years after beating a public defender who ran to her left, DA Melinda Katz’s main challenge in Tuesday’s primary is coming from the other direction: George Grasso, a former cop and retired judge, is calling for harsher policing, Bolts and Mother Jones reported last week.
Broome County (Binghamton) district attorney (GOP)

Incumbent Michael Korchak faces defense attorney Paul Battisti; both candidates have denounced the state’s recent criminal justice reforms, and the GOP winner will face a Democratic candidate who strongly supports them in November.
Rensselaer County sheriff (GOP)

This is the only county in all of New York to partner with ICE’s 287(g) program, which authorizes sheriff’s deputies to act like federal immigration agents in jails. Will it stay that way? Both Republicans running to replace the retiring sheriff told Bolts they want to maintain the contract with ICE. (The winner will then face Democrat Brian Owens, who did not share his position on the issue.)
See also: Does your county have a sheriff or DA election this year, and if so is it contested? See who is running for these offices on our Bolts masterlist.


New Rochelle mayor (Dem)

Yadira Ramos-Herbert has drawn a wide array of support, from Westchester County’s party committee to progressive endorsees like Jamaal Bowman and the Working Families Party, as City and State reports, in her bid against Damon Maher in this open primary.
Schenectady mayor (Dem)

Mayor Gary McCarthy faces a challenge from Marion Porterfield, the city council president who was the lone council member to vote against a police reform plan in 2021 because she said it did not do enough to address police use of force. The Times Union reports that McCarthy has focused attacks on Porterfield’s opposition to a casino, while Porterfield, who has the support of the Working Families Party, has pledged a more grassroots administration.
Yonkers mayor (Dem)

Mayor Mike Spano, who has been hit with serious allegations of nepotism, is seeking a fourth term against progressive council member Corazon Pineda-Isaac, endorsed by the Working Families Party. Among the defining issues, Politico reports, is Spano’s veto of an ordinance requiring affordable housing construction.

Local and County Councils (outside of NYC)

Buffalo | Council, Masten district (Dem)

Two years ago, socialist candidate India Walton ousted the Buffalo mayor in a Democratic primary and drew tremendous amounts of national attention overnight before ultimately losing in November. Walton is mounting a new attempt to join local government this year, running for an open council seat in the Masten district. Her opponent in the primary is Zeneta Everhart, whose son was shot in a racist mass shooting last year; Everhart has drawn prominent endorsements like U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.
Buffalo | Council, North & University districts (Dem)

Our City Action Buffalo, a progressive group critical of Mayor Byron Brown, has endorsed candidates besides Walton in an effort to push the council to the left. Both face incumbents: Eve Shippens is running against incumbent Joseph Golombek in the North district, and Kathryn Franco is running against incumbent Rasheed Wyatt in the University district. (Franco, Shippens, and Walton are also supported as a slate by the Working Families Party, , which has also endorsed a fourth candidate, Matt Dearing).
Golombek & Wyatt
Rochester | Council (Dem)

Mary Lupien, a progressive member of Rochester’s city council, pushed the city to divert funding from the police department; in the wake of Daniel Prude’s death in 2020, she led the creation of a new unit outside the police department to respond to mental health crises, WXXI reports. Now, she is challenged in the Democratic primary by the self-described “extreme moderate” Paul Conrow.
Erie County | County legislature (GOP)

This heated GOP primary was decreed “the weirdest” race on the ballot by The Buffalo News given a confusing plot of party switches and family allegiances. Incumbent Jim Malczewski faces political staffer Lindsay Bratek-Lorigo, whom he crudely attacked over her age. The candidates have competed to look tougher on immigration amid proposals to bar asylum-seekers from the county.

The New York City Council

Manhattan | District 1 (Dem) 

Christopher Marte, a member of the council’s Progressive Caucus, faces challengers who have criticized him for being overly critical of policing and proposing to divert some of NYPD’s funding; the local police union drove a truck through his district with a video attacking him on these issues. Marte is also known for his resistance to new housing projects, the Gotham Gazette reports.
Manhattan | District 2 (Dem)

Two years ago, Mayor Eric Adams’ team maneuvered to block councilmember Carlina Rivera from becoming Speaker due to a vote to lower the NYPD budget. Rivera, who is also in the Progressive Caucus, now faces a rematch against her 2021 opponent Allie Ryan.
Manhattan | District 9 (Dem)

Yusef Salaam, one of the “Central Park Five” teenagers who were wrongfully convicted in a high-profile 1980s case in which Donald Trump famously called for the death penalty, is running against two state lawmakers, Inez Dickens and Al Taylor.

The race is open after one of the most left-wing members of the council, Kristin Richardson Jordan, abruptly dropped out of the race six weeks ago.)
Queens | District 19 (Dem)

Tony Avella, a former member of the IDC, the group of Democratic senators who allied with the GOP in the 2010s, is trying for yet another comeback. He’s one of three Democratic candidates running to take on Republican incumbent Vickie Paladino.
Queens | District 21 (Dem)

This district featured another former Democratic senator who sided with the GOP to help them run the state Senate, this time in the 2000s: Hiram Monserrate, who was also convicted on corruption charges, was challenging incumbent Francisco Moya but was removed from the ballot.
Queens | District 22 (Dem)

Tiffany Cabán barely lost the DA race in Queens in 2019 and then won a seat on the city council two years later and joined its left wing. She faces a challenge against Charles Castro, a former police officer who says Cabán has a “radical agenda” and wants to increase police presence.
Queens | District 26 (Dem)

Community organizer Hailie Kim is running from the left to take on incumbent council member Julie Won, focusing on Won’s support for the mayor’s budget that cut public services.
Brooklyn | District 41 (Dem)

Incumbent Darlene Mealy faces challenger Isis McIntosh-Green, who’s backed by the Working Families Party and a number of unions, with Mealy’s near-record absenteeism from council a defining issue.
Brooklyn | District 42 (Dem)

Longtime local politician Charles Barron, member of the Progressive Caucus, faces a rematch against a community organizer running with union support, Chris Banks.
Brooklyn | District 43 (Dem & GOP)

This new district was drawn to create an opportunity for an Asian-American council member in Brooklyn. The Gotham Gazette has an overview of the crowded field of largely moderate candidates that has emerged in both parties.
Susan Zhuang (D) and Ying Tan (R)
Brooklyn | District 47 (GOP)

Council member Ari Kagan switched to the GOP last year, citing his disagreements on Democratic proposals like ending solitary confinement and criminal background checks for tenants. Kagan is now endorsed by local law enforcement groups but faces a contested GOP primary. (The winner will face another incumbent, Justin Brannan, who was thrown into this seat by redistricting.)
See also: The City and NY1 partnered to publish an interactive page that introduces the geographic  boundaries and policies of each of New York City’s new 51 districts. 

And the Gotham Gazette and City & State have previews of the council primaries they are watching.

What about outside of NEw York?

Los Angeles city council 6th district (general election)

Angelenos are deciding who will replace Nury Martinez, the Los Angeles City council president who resigned last year after a recording surfaced on which she made racist statements. Marisa Alcaraz and Imelda Padilla face off in a runoff, and the Los Angeles Times reports on contrasts in their long careers in city government to identify some differences.