Monthly Forum: Primary Day (June 22, 2021)—Voting Matters!

May 28, 2021

By Evan Mason and Raul Larios

If there’s one thing that we learned from the November 2020 elections, it is that voting really does matter.  And in NYC, voting in the primaries matters even more given the fact that  Democrats outnumber  Republicans 8:1. This means that the Democrats who win in the upcoming June 22nd  primary will probably become our political leaders for the next several years.

This is important because it is they who will have to quickly figure out how to revive our local economy in order to restore the 600,000+ jobs that were lost during the pandemic. Hopefully, the economy’s revival will help City Hall address our other immediate problems (such as affordable housing, sanitation, public education, health, and beyond).

GreenHomeNYC members are equally concerned (if not more so) about the longer-term risks from climate change.  In fact, we believe there is no challenge that poses a greater danger to us, our families and our city’s well-being than global warming. 

The Link Between the Primaries and Climate Change

What do the June 22 primaries have to do with global warming, you might ask?

Well, with the passage in 2019 of the Climate Mobilization Act (CMA) and Local Law 97 that imposes very strict limits on NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions, New Yorkers have an opportunity to make a big difference in the fight to decarbonize our city and do our share in preventing global warming. 

However, the CMA and LL97 have not yet been fully implemented. And there are very powerful interests that oppose it. The law might be in the books, but since most of the current elected officials who passed it are term limited, including the mayor, it will be up to their replacements to actually execute the new law.

Yet many of the aspiring candidates are not familiar with LL97 or the many challenges related to its implementation.

And that is the connection between the June 22 primaries and climate change—the primaries are the opponents’ best chance to sponsor candidates who are not concerned about global warming and are not ardent supporters of LL97 (or simply have other priorities). It’s a big opportunity to eventually water down the CMA and LL97.

Let’s Break Down the Numbers

According to The City, ALL 51 city council districts in NYC are up for election this year. 16 seats are held by incumbents but 14 of them are facing primary challengers. The other 35 (of the 51 seats, or 69%) are totally up for grabs because those council members are term limited. 

In total, more than 500 candidates are running for one office or another, including mayor, borough presidents, district attorney, comptroller and public advocate.  

In other words, this is a MASSIVE primary. What better opportunity to weaken support for LL97?

Then there’s rank-choice voting that’s going to make things very interesting, making the stakes incredibly high as we transition from a year of COVID-driven crises.  The long and the short of rank-choice voting is that if no candidate for an office surpasses 50% of the ballots cast, then voter’s second, third, fourth and fifth choices will be systematically considered, until a winner emerges.  

Given the scale and importance of the June 22 primaries, we voters should educate ourselves as to where all the candidates in our district stand, so we can vote beyond our first choice.  A side implication is that the outcome of many offices may not become clear until  well into the summer.

Where the Candidates Stand on the Environment 

The May 12 mayoral debates telecast on NY1 barely touched on climate change, resilience, or the environment.  This was very troubling to us, so we encourage you to take the time to learn more about where the candidates stand on the environment. To that end, we included (in alphabetical order) separate interviews that the New York League of Conservation voters (NYLCV) did to get the candidates on the record about LL97 and related environmental issues: Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, Scott Stringer, Maya Wiley, Andrew Yang

Here are some dates to remember:

Key Dates 

May 28: Voter Registration Deadline

June 2: Last day to change your address

June 12: First day of early voting at designated locations

June 15: Last day to request an absentee ballot

June 16: GHNYC forum on NY primary elections–don’t forget to tune in!

June 20: Last day of early voting at designated locations

June 22: Primary Day–go out and vote, if you haven’t voted early!

Be sure to attend the GreenHome NYC forum in June to learn more.