UFT focuses on four contested City Council races
New Yorkers will vote in the Nov. 7 general election for candidates for all 51 New York City Council seats as well as three district attorneys whose terms are up this year. The UFT has made endorsements in all but four Council races and in the district attorney races, but the union’s borough political action committees have been focusing on four contested Council races: one in the Bronx, one in Brooklyn and two in Queens.
“We are getting out the vote for Council members who advocate for public education, public school communities, workers’ rights and our profession,” said Vanecia Wilson, the UFT’s new political director.
All 51 Council seats are up for two-year terms due to a New York City Charter provision that specifies that Council members serve two-year terms in the four years following a decennial census. This is the first year in which candidates are running in districts that were redrawn based on the 2020 census and population changes. Four-year terms resume in the 2025 election cycle.
The four priority City Council races are:
- Susan Zhuang for District 43 in Brooklyn (Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Bath Beach). Zhuang, a Democrat, is in a competitive race in a newly formed, Asian-majority district. She is a former staff member for Assemblymember William Colton of Brooklyn, with whom she worked to defend fair access to public education, Wilson said.
- Tony Avella for District 19 in Queens (a district in northwest Queens from College Point to Bayside). Avella, a Democrat, is running again to represent the district after narrowly losing the election in 2021. The former state senator has been a friend to public education throughout his career. He has supported funding for schools and “seeks to hold city agencies accountable so that they’re working with the community and not against them,” Wilson said.
- Marjorie Velázquez for District 13 in the Bronx (a district in the northeast Bronx from Allerton to the neighborhoods along the bay). Velázquez, the incumbent Democrat who represents a district with overcrowded schools, has joined the union in the fight for lower class sizes and a moratorium on school closures, Wilson said. Velázquez is pushing for the city to bring in resources like health clinics and after-school programs to revitalize schools and communities, Wilson said.
- Sandra Ung for District 20 in Queens (downtown Flushing, Murray Hill and Queensboro Hill). Ung, the Democratic incumbent, is a community advocate who has supported securing adequate funding for schools in her district, expanding 3-K, pre-K and gifted and talented programs, and improving local parks, Wilson said.
The union offers support to all its endorsed candidates, such as mailing campaign literature to members’ homes. For priority races, the union’s political action committees created action plans that include member-to-member phone banking, member-to-member door-knocking, leafleting and other activities.
In solidarity with fellow NYSUT members who work in small cities upstate such as Binghamton and Mount Vernon, the UFT is recommending a “Yes” vote on the proposed constitutional amendment on the New York State ballot that would increase the debt limit for small city school districts from the current 5% to the 10% already permitted for suburban and rural school districts. The passage of Proposition No. 1 will put the state’s small cities on equal footing with rural and suburban districts with respect to school funding.