New Yorkers Confront a Novel Way to Vote and Weigh Their Choices

As New Yorkers confronted their first ranked-choice mayoral election, they faced a novel set of calculations about how to vote in a way that reflects their priorities for the city’s revival and wade through all 15 candidates on the ballots -- 13 Democratic and two Republican primary contenders.

Bloomberg News reporters deployed throughout the city Tuesday asked residents how they made their choices:

Women Wanted

Many voters praised the race’s diverse slate -- after 109 male mayors in the city.

“I’m looking for integrity with a progressive streak,” said Glen Parker, 43, a lawyer from Brooklyn. “My top four choices were women. I wish there were five female candidates I could rank.”-- Eric Krebs

New Yorkers Confront a Novel Way to Vote and Weigh Their Choices

Choosing Only One Candidate

A number of voters said they liked ranked-choice voting, which is meant to more closely reflect voter preferences. But the new system also confounded many New Yorkers, who decided not to make five selections and rank just one.

Eloy Sanchez, 55, from the Bronx, works in building maintenance around Wall Street. He voted for a single candidate Tuesday, and largely because of a single issue: “The crime, I’ve never seen it so bad.”

He complained about the ranked-choice voting system, saying, “It was crazy. I’ve never seen multiple choices like that. It’s really strange. I’m really suspicious of the system. I think that by having you vote for multiple candidates and if somebody cheats, you can’t say anything because everybody was voted for multiple times. It’s beyond me. I only voted for one candidate.”

David Chin, who works in the art business, voted in Manhattan’s Chinatown for a single person -- former presidential contender Andrew Yang -- and left the other four slots blank.

Part of the reason he supported Yang was his late-in-the-race decision to campaign alongside rival Kathryn Garcia, the city’s former sanitation commissioner. He said Yang would make a “good executive.”

-- Raeedah Walid and YueqiYang

Making It Here

Christopher Ashley, a 38-year-old Queens resident, was on his way to get lunch when he encountered Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams greeting voters in Manhattan’s Washington Heights. He let Adams know that he wouldn’t have his support.

Ashley, who ranked civil-rights lawyer Maya Wiley as his first choice and Garcia as his No. 2, said Adams’s rhetoric was “deliberately divisive” and he took umbrage at comments Adams made this year suggesting some New Yorkers who had moved to the city from elsewhere should “go back to Iowa.”

“I’m not from Iowa. I’m from Illinois, but still, close enough, and that hurt me,” Ashley said. “The city is my home.”

-- Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou

Progressive Field

While three out of the four contenders leading the opinion polls are non-ideological candidates, progressive voters rallied around Wiley after she garnered high-profile endorsements from Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

David Pekerow, 50, a web developer from Cobble Hill, said he voted for Wiley despite doubts about her experience because she was the most “viable progressive in the race.”

“I hope that if she is elected, she’ll have some good people working with her,” he said.

Pekerow voted for Garcia as his second choice, and Adams as his third.

“I have to say, I’m not completely happy with really any of the candidates,” the native New Yorker said. “It seems that we are being faced with a lot of candidates who are well qualified, but haven’t really proven themselves in the way that they’d need to in order to be prepared” to run New York as it emerges from the pandemic.

-- Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou

Crime Focus

Helaine and Charles Kobrin, retired educators who are married and live in Manhattan, said public safety was the most important issue. The couple said they both voted for Adams, who campaigned hard on doing more to reduce crime in the city.

“I don’t take the subways now because of all the incidents happening,” said Charles Kobrin, 74. “I’d like to see more police officers on the subway and on the street. I really don’t see many police walking up and down the streets of Manhattan.”

Helaine Kobrin, 70, said she sees too many homeless people and too few cops. She, too, is avoiding public transportation.

“It’s costing me a lot of money in Ubers,” she said.

-- Max Reyes

First Asian Mayor

Wu Wunyin, who runs a restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown, said he voted for Yang as his top choice, hoping the candidate could resolve homelessness issues and combat anti-Asian hate crimes.

“These days, Asians are bullied, and Yang will take care of this issue,” he said in an interview. If Yang becomes the first Asian-American mayor of the city, that “will definitely have a positive impact.”

“His reputation is good, and I agree with his policy of giving out cash to those needed,” Wu added. The limited subsidy Yang is proposing will still push people to work, he believes.

“I still work everyday even though I am in my 70s,” he said.

-- Yueqi Yang

Canine Candidate

While Republicans also headed to the polls on Tuesday, that contest drew less interest given that Democratic registered voters outnumber Republicans by 7-to-1 in New York City. Republicans are choosing between Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels crime-prevention group; and restaurateur Fernando Mateo.

Financial consultant Hudson Lizzo, 50, from Staten Island, penciled his 5-year old Labrador retriever, Hershel, in the Republican mayoral primary.

“My dog is head and shoulders above what my party had to offer,” said Lizzo. “I mean, Curtis Sliwa? Isn’t that the guy I watched get beat up on the train in the ‘70s?”

-- Eric Krebs

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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