Real Estate’s Assembly Primaries to Watch in New York

(L-R) Kathy Hochul, Lee Zeldin, AOC, Eric Adams, Samy Nemir Olivares (Getty)

(L-R) Kathy Hochul, Lee Zeldin, AOC, Eric Adams, Samy Nemir Olivares (Getty)

In the final days of the legislative session, tenant advocates crowded outside the offices of state Senate and Assembly leaders, calling on the lawmakers to pass statewide good cause eviction.

But the measure failed to move forward — another reminder that for real estate, elections matter.

Tenant and environmental groups blamed the Assembly in particular for standing in the way of their legislative priorities, including good cause, the electrification of all new buildings in the state and allowing the state power authority to build, own and operate renewable energy projects.

In Tuesday’s primary election, the Working Families Party has backed a slate of Assembly Democrats focused on climate change measures, according to City and Stateand many of the candidates also list good cause eviction as a priority. Several endorsements by the Democratic Socialists of America overlap with those of WFP, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has thrown her weight behind many of these candidates as well.

Blocking good cause and reviving a 421a-style property tax break are two priorities for the real estate industry next session, and electing moderates is key to making them happen. It’s not so much that eight or 10 lawmakers will swing votes in the 213-seat legislature, but that members of the Assembly and Senate are influenced by the results of competitive races and govern with the goal of avoiding a future primary challenge.

With that in mind, here are the NYC primary races industry professionals should watch Tuesday:

Governor

Hochul failed to get enough support for 485w, her proposed replacement to 421aduring the legislative session. But last week, while speaking at an event held by the Real Estate Board of New York, she pledged to push for “changes to support the industry,” next session.

Challenger Jumaane Williams, who has the backing of the WFP, criticized the comments on Twitter, adding that the governor was “promising [a] donor industry that after the election she’ll make the state more real-estate friendly.” Williams supported the repeal of 421a and the passage of good cause.

Meanwhile, Rep. Tom Suozzi is competing with Hochul for the moderate vote. He has criticized the governor’s approach to crime, and during a recent debate, accused Hochul of “irresponsibly” spending federal Covid relief funds, according to the New York Times.

Following the arrest of Lieutenant Gov. Brian Benjamin on bribery charges, Hochul named Rep. Antonio Delgado to serve out the remainder of Benjamin’s term and to be her new running mate. Williams is running with Ana Maria Archila, who is backed by Ocasio-Cortez, and Suozzi has tapped former Council member Diana Reyna.

A commanding victory for Hochul and Delgado would make it easier for them to deliver on the real estate priorities ignored by the legislature this year. Any other result would make it harder.

Contenders for the Republican nomination include former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino, Rep. Lee Zeldin, Andrew Giuliani and Harry Wilson. Polls show Hochul and Zeldin as the favorites.

Assembly District 82, Bronx

During the legislative session, tenant advocates targeted Assembly member Michael Benedetto for failing to support good cause eviction. Benedetto alleged that Housing Justice for All and others were trying to “bully” him into supporting it. Jonathan Soto, who previously worked for Ocasio-Cortez and has the endorsement of the Working Families Party, is challenging the incumbent and supports good cause as well as the demise of 421a. Algernon Quattlebaum, a chef and minister, is also vying for the seat.

Assembly District 32, Queens

The WFP has also thrown its support behind Anthony Andrews Jr over Assembly member Vivian Cook. The incumbent, who has served in the chamber since 1991, has the backing of party leaders including Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Rep. Gregory Meeks, Attorney General Letitia James and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Andrews, a former Democratic district leader in Southeast Queens, told the Queens Chronicle that he supports good cause.

“I want to expand protections for tenants; I am a tenant myself in a rent-stabilized building and I know how much power a landlord has over your housing security,” he told the newspaper. Cook is a co-sponsor of the good cause eviction bill.

Assembly District 70, Manhattan

Mayor Eric Adams threw his support behind incumbent Inez Dickens, who is facing a challenge from tenant advocate Delsenia Glover and Shawanna Vaughn, head of a nonprofit that works with families and children affected by gun violence and incarceration. Cortez and the WFP have endorsed Glover.

Adams has waded into other races to endorse incumbents, including Benedetto, who are being challenged by candidates backed by Ocasio-Cortez.

“Mayor Adams said from the very beginning that he’s not a socialist. He’s a Democrat,” Dickens told the New York Post. “We are Democrats! We are not socialists!…AOC and the socialists are trying to take over New York.”

Assembly District 54, Brooklyn

Activist Samy Nemir Olivares, who was endorsed by both the DSA and WFP, is challenging incumbent Erik Dilan. Dilan told City Limits that he supported the 2019 rent law and the eviction moratorium, though he is not listed as a sponsor of the good cause eviction bill. DSA-backed Sen. Julia Salazar unseated Dilan’s father, Martin Dilan in 2018.

Assembly District 81, Bronx

The WFP is supporting Jessica Altagracia Woolford, who previously worked for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, in her bid for Jeffrey Dinowitz’s seat.

“It doesn’t matter if we have Democrats in charge if they’re not the kind of Democrats who are really going to fight for good cause eviction,” Woolford told City and State.

Assembly District 65, Manhattan

Illapa Sairitupac, Denny Salas, Grace Lee and Alana Sivin are all vying for the seat to be vacated by Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou, who is running for Congress. The DSA and WFP endorsed Sairitupac. Salas told the Village Sun that he is a YIMBY “in a sense that I believe we need to build more housing.”

Assembly District 66, Manhattan

The WFP and YIMBY group Open New York have endorsed Ryder Kessler’s bid to unseat Deborah Glick. The incumbent has been an outspoken opponent of development in her district, most recently by fighting the rezoning of Soho and Noho.

Assembly District 60, Brooklyn

Adams is supporting incumbent Nikki Lucas, who also has the backing of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. The DSA, WFP and Ocasio-Cortez have endorsed challenger Keron Alleyne.

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