Video: Chin beats Rajkumar, taking nearly 60 percent of the vote

By JOSH ROGERS & KAITLYN MEADE  |  Councilmember Margaret Chin handily won Tuesday’s primary election for Council District 1, beating Jenifer Rajkumar with 58.5 percent of the vote.

Chin told a cheering crowd in Chinatown that she looked forward to “building new schools. We’re going to start building more affordable housing,” she added, “starting with the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who stood with her on stage, said, “Thank you for giving me someone I can work with again at City Hall, that we can continue to be the dynamic duo that we’ve been.”

A few blocks from Chin’s Chatham Square Restaurant victory party, Rajkumar conceded defeat.

She said she would “absolutely” support Chin in the general election. The councilmember’s re-election to a second term is now considered a foregone conclusion in the overwhelmingly Democratic Council district.

Tuesday’s returns will not be certified until next week, but the count for Chin now stands at 8,303 to Rajkumar’s 5,891.

Photo by Kaitlyn Meade Margaret Chin celebrated her victory Sept. 10 with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Photo by Kaitlyn Meade
Margaret Chin celebrated her victory Sept. 10 with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Like her election four years ago, Chin won big in Chinatown, but she also won some of the biggest housing complexes elsewhere.

In Southbridge Towers near the South Street Seaport, she won 329 to 270, according to the initial machine-vote tally.

“She’s always around and she seems hard-working and sincere,” Stacey Shub, a young Southbridge mother, said of Chin.

District Leader John Scott, an Independence Plaza tenant leader and a strong Chin supporter, said Chin won the Tribeca complex by about 20 votes.

Rajkumar appeared to do best in the Village and Soho, where residents were upset with Chin on a number of issues, including her support for New York University expansion and a new business improvement district for Soho along Broadway.

Chin voters tended to cite her experience, while Rajkumar’s support came from people who thought Chin is too close to developers.

“Well, she’s not associated with the real estate industry like Margaret Chin,” said Nancy Todd, a senior citizen who moved into the neighborhood now known as Tribeca more than three decades ago.

Chin was helped by funding from a real estate-funded PAC, which was one of Rajkumar’s chief criticisms.

“We waged a formidable challenge against a multimillion-dollar PAC,” Rajkumar said after her concession.

Rajkumar said Wednesday she won her re-election bid to continue to be a Democratic district leader in Battery Park City and other parts of Lower Manhattan, beating Robin Forst 1,484 to 883.

She had said Tuesday that if she prevailed she wanted to work with Chin. However, Chin has previously said she has had zero working relationship with Rajkumar to date.

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18 Responses to Video: Chin beats Rajkumar, taking nearly 60 percent of the vote

  1. Congrats to Chin, but she should not rest comfortably: only one Incumbent was not re-elected, and we hear that woman has been way worse than Chin. And of the Incumbents who won, Chin's race was the tightest. It's just almost impossible to beat Incumbents, but it came closest to happening to Chin. And the Real Estate PAC won in almost ever City Council race, so thanks to Citizen's United, Chin is in, and the Real Estate folks now know that they can pick who gets elected from here on out.

    And congrats to the NYCHA housing projects who all endorsed Chin. I've been fighting hard against the NYCHA In-Fill plan, but now that fight is up to Chin. When big, luxury buildings rise on their parks and open space, and Chin does nothing but say go slow, don't come looking for help from the rest of the community. NYCHA residents, you're stuck with Chin, and on your own with her.

  2. Most incumbents won with 70% and 80% of the vote, so not even getting 60% of the vote is nothing to crow about. The voters made a statement. Now, let’s see if Chin heard it.

  3. Rajkumar's overwhelming defeat of Lower Manhattan Democrat's candidate, Robin Forst, should not be treated so lightly.

    Forst had the backing of Councilmembers Chin, Rosie Mendez and Alan Gerson and got creamed. Rajkumar had not a single endorsement except that of the Downtown Independent Democrats.

    Moreover, when Rajkumar ran two years ago against long-time district leader incumbent Linda Belfer, who had the endorsement of every leading incumbent, including Congressman Gerry Nadler, Shelly Silver, Margaret Chin, Scott Stringer, and Daniel Squadron, Rajkumar, living in the district only six months, trounced her with 80% of the vote.

    This goes to show that Jennifer and her hard-working club, the DID, can do a lot more than all the endorsements of incumbent, established politicians combined.

  4. Time For The Truth

    Now that the race is over, it is time to tell the truth: Chin deserved not to be re-elected, but the one person who ran against her didn't deserve to be elected. It was Candidate A, with the bad record, versus Candidate B, with the non-existant/falsified record. Here's hoping District 1 has better choices in 2017.

    • I'm willing to take a risk on (so called) non existent record. If there is promise. Please detail the falsified record you indicate. A lot of us who are not in that district keep hearing that about her, but we're curious to hear or see actual examples. It's a serious charge.

      • Dear Patrick,
        Now that the election is over, it's time to tell the incredible true story.

        There is no falsified record. This is just something the Chin camp and the real estate moguls who tried to crush Rajkumar made up in their desperate attempt to stop this young change candidate's momentum.

        The truth about Jenifer Rajkumar's resume is that she graduated from ivy league UPenn (graudated magna cum laude, phi beta kappa), from Stanford Law School, practiced at a top national civil rights litigation firm doing some of the most impressive class action lawsuits of our day, and worked in policy at DC at one of the foremost think tanks on women's policy. She was elected as one of the youngest district leaders for lower Manhattan in 2011 (and was just re-elected this 2013), and became the first South Asian elected official ever in NYC. She also is only 30 years old.

        Rajkumar also happens to be a strikingly good looking young woman, so the Chin camp resorted to character attacks saying that Rajkumar is only "skin deep," devoid of substance, and cannot be trusted. These attacks were nothing but sexist lies, but the Chin camp was banking on the fact that those who did not know Jenifer Rajkumar might just believe them. And, the bilionaires real estate PAC backing Chin had the money to send constant negative mailers attacking Rajkumar's character into the district. All of these mailers portrayed Rajkumar as only "skin deep"– all looks but no substance– a young woman who could not be trusted.

        Though some found these mailers sexist and offensive, others probably believed them.


  5. Hope Margaret Chin does not disappoint the NYCHA In-Fill tenants or the Trinity development neighbors who came out in force to vote for their candidate.

    I'm with Guest on this, I'm not helping them either.

    I wish you a miracle. You're going to need it.

  6. Therein lies the difference between community organizers who understand the difference between a political battle and the long term (decades often) fight for affordable housing. We don't quite even if we "lose".
    The top 1 percent of U.S. earners collected 19.3 percent of household income in 2012, their largest share in IRS figures since pre-Depression 18.7%. That is the pressing struggle.
    Council member Chin had the backing of many long time political activists and community organizers for a reason. You may not agree, but we think she is our best shot at fighting for affordable housing.
    Sadly, I doubt the residents of NYCHA were counting on you anyway. But Ms. Rajkumar could back that fight. She has a future to see to.

    • When will you display any honesty and concept of reality?

      Who wants your statistics?

      You were asked repeatedly to address Chin's unscrupulous sell out to NYU, 135 Bowery, South Street Seaport, Chinatown and SoHo to the BIDs, etc. and all we get is more BS from you.
      You have refused to address the issues. You have no intellectual honesty.

      Affordable Housing? Chin's AAFE is the biggest landlord in Chinatown, and has forced out people of color from their tenements to develop luxury apartments. And, despite her promise of !00%, she only got 50% "affordable housing" at SPURA, and that is for people who can earn up to $125,000.

      Chin had little backing of activists and organizers. She did have the backing of misogynist and boss, Shelly Silver. She is her back pocket. She them holding hands together?

      She did have the backing of the NY Real Estate Board, who spent $300,000 to wage a negative campaign, with sexist overtones, against Chin's opponent.

      She did NOT have the backing of a single newspaper or a single progressive Democratic club.

      Will you please stop with your lies and display some integrity, if not reality.

  7. Jenifer Rajkumar made an impressive run for the District 1 seat. From unknown initially, she became a formidable opponent. She ran an honest campaign and even received the endorsement of mayoral candidate and Comptroller John Lui. It's not impressive for Chin to get less than 60% of the vote when incumbents like Rosie Mendez got over 80%. Being backed by Sheldon Silver, who's also under investigation for being soft on Vito Lopez, is an indication of the sort of underhanded support she received. So here's a toast to Jenifer for being a truer people's candidate.

    • Time For The Truth

      Honest campaign? Please. She lied about most of her resume because she has been living off her parents money and not working so she could do noting but prepare for and run for political office. I'm not a Chin fan, but saying Jenifer ran an honest campaign is like saying Fox News is fair and balanced – saying it does not make it so.

      • What lies are you spewing? Jenifer Rajkumar lied about nothing. She's got nothing to lie about– She's the graduate of two Ivy League schools, plus she is a lawyer at a top law firm, one of the youngest district leaders, a rising star "40 under 40" by city and state, not to mention impressive DC policy experience. She doesn't NEED to lie because her stellar resume speaks for itself. You base your comments on the fact that Rajkumar– on the side- started a nonprofit for girls, only very recently, and something she always has said was a start up. The Chin campaign planted a story about this in the Post, blowing it out of proportion, and lacing it in sexist attacks against Rajkumar (saying she is good looking without any substance).

        The only "truth" I can draw from all this is that Chin and her real estate buddies ran a pernicious, sexist, lie-filled campaign. So why don't you stop beating up on a young and courageous rising star who dared to take on some of NYC's most powerful forces, and tell the real truth?

  8. So apparently there is no political fallout from the NYU rezoning battle. Chin would have been the likeliest victim of that, but she's back in.

  9. Chin had the backing of the big real estate developers PAC – Jobs for New York (could they have made anymore phone calls?) – and that's all she needed. They're probably already making out their xmas list for her. They don't spend that kind of money for no reason.

    • True, but it worked.

      • It worked for now. But not forever. Rajkumar did very well despite all the odds stacked against her, getting 42% of the vote. Jobs4NY and the lower manhattan political machine will crumble in due time. This was just the first attempt.

  10. This is the race of the better candidate (Rajkumar) being beaten by big real estate money and the political machine, led by Silver and Chin. The machine and big real estate moguls spent a lot of money to smear Rajkumar with false largely sexist attacks. Our politics is in a dire state downtown, but thank you to Jenifer Rajkumar for fighting the good fight. Hopefully we see her in office soon.

  11. Georgette Fleischer

    This video clip and article prove the adage that history is told from the perspective of the victors, even in a media outlet like the Villager which wholeheartedly endorsed Jenifer Rajkumar for City Council in District One. Some of us look at the figures a little differently, for instance, by splitting the 17-point lead in half and wondering what might have been if 8.5% who went one way would have gone the other.

    I hope Sheldon Silver’s implying that Jenifer Rajkumar is not someone who can be worked with was unintentionally hurtful. Margaret Chin’s final remark, on the other hand, seems to be a deliberate slash at a recently defeated challenger.

    I have worked closely with Jenifer since she was elected District Leader almost two years ago. My experience is that she listens to the community, and she participates in community-based actions such as our efforts to free Petrosino Park’s art installation space of a Citi Bike kiosk that could easily be moved a few feet into the road bed. I am proud that Jenifer and I and a hundred other protesters of the NYU 2031 expansion plan were thrown out of City Hall together on July 25, 2012.

    While constituents around Petrosino Square certainly appreciate Margaret Chin’s defense of our art installation space from an attempted food cart and actual Citi Bike takeover, my repeated pleas to the Councilmember’s office since mid-July to help us with a horticultural disaster have received absolutely no reply, no more so than pleas beginning earlier this year for help with recurring vandalism and crime in this small park that is nevertheless a significant public amenity in an area that comes in 58th out of 59 in the City of New York for open green space per capita.

    Let’s hope, now that Margaret Chin has been reelected, that she will turn her attention to the needs of her constituents in Little Italy, SoHo, and the Village. Hopefully she will become someone we can work with.

    Georgette Fleischer
    Founder, Friends of Petrosino Square

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