Two of the City Council candidates looking to unseat incumbent Christopher Marte have each other’s backs.
“My second choice would be Susan Lee, because I believe she’s a moderate candidate like myself,” Ursila Jung, a development policy expert, said.
“Ursila and I, our platforms are very similar,” said nonprofit grant writer Susan Lee. “We’re in discussion to perhaps rank each other as rank-choice two.”
It’s not yet a formal alliance between Jung and Lee, but a similar ranked-choice voting tactic was used in 2021 when mayoral contenders Kathryn Garcia and Andrew Yang teamed up against Eric Adams, the ultimate victor.
Marte is defending his seat in lower Manhattan’s Council District 1, which includes Chinatown, Tribeca, and Battery Park City.
“Honestly, we feel fairly confident,” he told NY1, noting the high number of votes he earned in 2021.
The Lower East Side native has downtown Democratic clubs in his corner. Campaigning in the neighborhood recently, he relayed the Primary Day date, June 27, to a passerby in Spanish.
And he offered up a cheer in Chinese to a group of older woman volunteers. Marte said he understands their struggles to age in place.
He talked up legislation to combat “what I consider an inhumane practice, forcing home attendants to work 24 shifts and only getting 13 hours’ pay.”
Lee, who ran for the seat in 2021 and has the support of the three of her former rivals, calls herself a daughter of the community.
She’s been using Chinese on the campaign trail. Her endorsements include municipal workers’ union District Council 37.
New Majority NYC, which seeks to put more women in office, has urged voters to choose Lee as their No. 1 pick and Jung as their No. 2 choice.
“I am a coalition builder,” Lee told NY1. “I’m not afraid to have tough discussions, to answer tough questions.”
Jung’s resume includes public policy work and community advocacy. She said City Hall needs more transparency and accountability.
“I believe in progressive taxation. We should all help people who are less fortunate,” she told NY1. “But we need to have accountable city government.”
All three Democrats seek to limit the expansion of the jail complex in Chinatown, meant to absorb some of the Rikers Island population when it closes.
Marte said he led an effort to ensure “that people are educated on how to push back on this administration, to use adaptive reuse and not to do demolition and build the world’s tallest jail.”
Jung said downtown residents feel let down by the mayor’s office.
“Work has started, the building has been demolished,” she said. “The community has been strongly against it from the get-go.”
Lee said, “When the construction vehicles were coming in, it felt like a hearse, it felt like the death of Chinatown.”
She added, “We just wanted to make sure that it’s not a mega-jail.”
The fourth Democrat on the ballot is substitute teacher Pooi Stewart, who effectively acknowledged to NY1 she has no shot this cycle.
“I would say, Vote for Christopher Marte,” Stewart said.
Still, her priority echoed that of the other candidates.
“Right now, the community is concerned about public safety,” she said.