Former Community Board 7 chair Helen Rosenthal won the Democratic nomination for a hotly contested Upper West Side City Council seat Tuesday night, edging out former CB7 chair Mel Wymore and essentially clinching her election in November.
Rosenthal had about 27 percent of the vote as of early Wednesday morning, ahead of Wymore's 22 percent. The seat, District 6, is currently held by Gale Brewer.
The two were neck and neck in election returns for most of Tuesday night.
"You guys made all the difference tonight," Rosenthal said in her victory speech. She spoke to a tightly packed crowd of campaign volunteers, friends, and supporters at her watch party at Firehouse Tavern on Columbus Avenue and 85th Street.
"I'm very excited because I get the chance to work hard for the Upper West Side, and that's something that I've wanted to do, I've tried hard to do over the last ten years," Rosenthal told Spectator. "Now I get to do it from the platform of the City Council."
Rosenthal said she felt honored by the support she received from "people I have worked with in all walks of life"—including private and public school families, residents of Mitchell-Lama and New York City Housing Authority buildings, small business owners, and dog walkers.
A little further south, supporters and volunteers in orange shirts emblazoned with "Mel Wymore Gets it Done" mingled at Wymore's election party at Loi, a Greek restaurant on West 70th Street between Amsterdam and West End avenues.
Wymore, who would have been the first transgender elected official in New York, conceded defeat around 11:30 p.m.
"I cannot begin to express the incredible privilege it is to have you support me in this race," he told the crowd. He encouraged his supporters to hug the people around them, and there were persistent chants of "Mel!"
Maria Loi, the restaurant's chef, gave Wymore a big hug.
"I want these people, after what they've done, to have a good time," she said. "I'm Greek. I believe in democracy."
"We started what looked like a very quixotic effort," Wymore's treasurer, Ken Coughlin, said. "To come as close as we did is still remarkable."
Third place finisher Marc Landis, a Democratic district leader, also conceded the race.
"This was a community campaign," Landis told supporters assembled at Blondie's, on West 79th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. "I ran as an unabashed progressive."
Landis had scored major endorsements from unions, local political leaders, and clubs, but they weren't enough—he ended up with 19 percent of the vote as of early Wednesday.
Candidates Noah Gotbaum, Ken Biberaj, Debra Cooper, and Aaron Braunstein received approximately 12 percent, 10 percent, 9 percent, and 2 percent of the vote, respectively.
Going forward, Rosenthal said that she would try to address issues of affordable housing and disparities between schools, and that she would work to develop the economy and stabilize the middle class.
Rosenthal will face Republican Harry DeMell and Green Party candidate Tom Siracuse in November, but she is expected to easily win the election.
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