BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Bill de Blasio won more than 73 percent of the vote in New York City on Nov. 5 in his landslide victory against Joe Lhota. The pattern more than held true in Downtown Manhattan, where Democrat de Blasio practically swept the grid from river to river.
After the election, The New York Times created an interactive map, with election districts won by de Blasio shown in blue and those by Lhota in red. One can “mouse over” the E.D.’s and see the numbers for the individual districts. Using the Times map as a template, The Villager created its own map.
Red E.D.’s don’t even begin to crop up until the 30s, in areas like Tudor City. Farther Downtown, there are some scattered red regions in spots like Battery Park City and the Financial District and near City Hall.
But in between those rare red patches the map is saturated with a solid swath of de Blasio blue.
Parts of the East Village, Lower East Side, Soho and, to a lesser extent, the West Village went even more heavily for the public advocate than the citywide average, supporting him with 80 percent or more of the vote.
However, on the edge of this unbroken blue expanse, one lonely speck of red stands out — namely, the 70th Election District in the 66th Assembly District, in Hudson Square. Here, Lhota actually won, with 24 votes to de Blasio’s 15 (14 on the Democratic Party line and 1 on the Working Families Party line). Adolfo Carrion, Jr., the former Bronx borough president, got 1 vote on the Independence Party line.
Could this red anomaly be the start of the Republican revival in Downtown Manhattan that new G.O.P. District Leader Richard Stewart recently told The Villager he is hoping to spearhead?
“It may be a spark — I did notice that,” he said of the 70th E.D. He said the Republican County Committee gives the election results to its members, which is how he had noticed it.
However, as for the wider area, he noted, the idea of flipping all that blue over to red remains more than daunting.
“I think, demographically, there are very few Republicans in the Village,” he admitted.
Arthur Schwartz, who recently regained his Democratic district leader post, chalked up the 70th E.D. going for Lhota to shifts in the area’s population. When Schwartz bought his townhouse in the Village in 1991, he noted, his five tenants were artists, but over the last 10 years, four of the five have been replaced by international corporate types. His immediate guess was that the result in the 70th E.D. was a product of new luxury residential buildings there, including the 142-unit Morton Square, which fills the block bounded by Morton, Washington, Leroy and West Sts., as well as the Urban Glass House, at Spring and Washington Sts.
The New York Times’s map is a little unclear on whether the Urban Glass House is actually in the 70th E.D. But Tim Gay, a deputy chief clerk at the city’s Board of Elections, confirmed that both 330 Spring St. (the Urban Glass House) and Morton Square are in the election district. Pier 40 is also included the E.D., though no one lives on it.
While the Election Day numbers were indeed low for the 70th E.D. compared to others, it wasn’t only due to low voter turnout. According to Gay, most E.D.’s have around 850 to 1,000 registered voters, but the 70th E.D. has only 298.
Maria Passannante-Derr, former president of the Village Reform Democratic Club, owns a condo in Morton Square, though she lives elsewhere in the Village. She couldn’t really explain the results for the red anomaly by the river.
“Maybe Lhota had a contact over there,” she speculated. “I would think over there would be Democrat.”
Some locals declared that Lhota’s win in the 70th E.D. was backlash over Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s approval of the new megagarage at Spring and Washington Sts. for three districts’ worth of Sanitation Department garbage trucks.
Martin Sheridan, the owner of the Ear Inn, on Spring, which is right across from the hated new Department of Sanitation three-district garage. Photo by Lincoln Anderson
“There’s been some change in the neighborhood. There’s been some new people,” acknowledged Eli Hausknecht, the wife of former Democratic District Leader David Reck. However, she added, “I wonder if there was some reaction to the Sanitation garage. That was an issue down here. It will continue to be an issue until it’s done.”
As she spoke recently while standing outside the door of her Greenwich St. home, Spring St. nearby was snarled with construction work. It’s for a steam pipe that is being extended to the new Sanitation garage. Posted prominently inside the front window of her and Reck’s home were campaign signs for de Blasio and Councilmember-elect Corey Johnson.
Similarly, Victoria Faust, an artist who lives at 533 Canal St., and Martin Sheridan, the owner of the Ear Inn bar and restaurant, just east of the Urban Glass House, both felt the 70th E.D. result was tied to the hated garage project.
“Look at the Urban Glass House — they really got screwed,” Faust said. “Christine Quinn got slapped [in the primary] — I’m so glad.”
And yet, the neighborhood’s complexion is changing, as well, she noted.
“It’s an interesting area,” she said, adding, “I mean, I’m eventually going to move. Because all these wealthy people…the neighborhood’s really changed. Thank God for the Ear Inn, it still has a community feeling to it. But not much anymore, because people who are buying all these things, they’re just buying them for investment — we call them ‘black houses.’ They come in once in a while, they’re not involved in the community at all.”
Sheridan, who described himself as not just a Democrat, but a socialist, said he shunned the polls this year because of his anger over the garage project. He lives just outside the 70th E.D.
“Quinn pissed so many people off down here in the political world — and that carried on against de Blasio,” he explained. “They didn’t vote ‘blue’ because they were pissed off at Quinn.”
For his part, Tony Hoffmann, president of the Village Independent Democrats club, didn’t make much of the one small district going red.
“I joined V.I.D. in 1976,” he said. “As long as I’ve been involved in politics, I’ve heard, ‘The Village is changing. The Village is getting more conservative.’ But it’s not changing.
“Maybe it’s self-selection,” he said. “The people that live in the Village, as opposed to the Upper East Side, are more liberal.”