The closest primary election in the city finally has a winner.
Exactly a week after primary day, on Tuesday, September 19, Diana Ayala declared victory over Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez in the Democratic primary for the 8th Council District, which covers part of the south Bronx (Mott Haven, Highbridge, Grand Concourse, Longwood, Port Morris) and East Harlem in Manhattan.
The vote won’t be certified until Tuesday, September 26, according to a NYC Board of Elections spokeswoman, but Rodriguez conceded the race to Ayala after it became apparent that her lead was insurmountable.
As of press time, according to an Ayala spokesman, 108 votes separated the two top finishers in a race that included Tamika Mapp and Israel Martinez. A Rodriguez spokeswoman confirmed similar unofficial numbers.
“With all vote counting complete, I am proud to declare victory today,” said Ayala. “There are innumerable people to thank, and I will make sure I speak to them directly over the coming weeks, from dedicated volunteers to the women and men of organized labor.”
She thanked the City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for being a mentor on the council, and a supporter.
Ayala serves on the speaker’s staff.
She said she was also grateful for the support of Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Congressman Adriano Espaillat.
As the polls closed, it appeared that Ayala had handily defeated Rodriguez in the Bronx portion of the district, 1,752 votes to 944 votes respectively.
Roughly half of the district is in the borough, but more than half of the vote comes from the Manhattan side, which was more supportive of Rodriguez, according to a source.
Ayala was slightly ahead of Rodriguez overall after primary night, with 43.64% of the vote to 42.20% respectively, with more than 97% of scanners reporting.
“More than anything, this process has shown that every vote counts,” said Rodriguez, adding “I offer my congrats to Diana Ayala, and I hope she can fulfill the promises she made; we need strong leadership, and from the Assembly, I promise that I will continue to put our community first.”
Rodriguez, in a statement, criticized what he felt was “negative rhetoric that did not communicate” what he had accomplished.
The Democratic primary winner, Ayala, said in a statement that the communities in the district, like many around the city, are at a crossroads.
“I will fight tirelessly to ensure that we do everything to protect the lives and provide affordability for those who have grown up, are raising their families, or are retiring here,” said Ayala.
She added: “I will be a community champion who is unafraid to stand up to the wealthy and special interests to deliver better schools, more affordable housing, and a safer city.”
A spokesman for DC 37, a labor union of municipal employees, said that the race was four in the city where they sent activists and volunteers to successfully support their candidate, in this case Ayala.