By Edward Yutkowitz
Village Independent Democrats (VID) has endorsed Erik Bottcher, Chris Marte, and Carlina Rivera to represent lower Manhattan in the City Council.
The endorsement votes took place after the candidates addressed VID’s membership and the public at a virtual forum at the club’s December general meeting. More than 120 members of the community attended the forum.
In the “main event” of the evening, Erik Bottcher, who has been an active member of VID and until last week served as Chief of Staff to City Council President Corey Johnson, got 71 of the 79 votes VID cast for City Council District 3. Johnson currently holds that seat but is term-limited from running again.
The other five contenders for the seat declined to participate in the forum, but District Leader Arthur Schwartz won six votes, while Marni Halasa got one. Leslie Boghosian Murphy, Phelan-Dante Fitzpatrick, and Aleta LaFargue did not receive any votes.
Originally from upstate New York, Erik began his career in public service in 2009 as the LGBTQ & HIV/AIDS Community Liaison at the New York City Council. As Governor Andrew Cuomo’s LGBTQ Community Liaison, he helped lead the fight for marriage equality in New York State. During the pandemic, he has worked tirelessly to build a network to ensure the safety and well-being of seniors, organizing food drives and a campaign to clean the Chelsea community.
“VID is a legendary force for progressive change and to have their support means the world to me,” he said. “I’ve learned so much at VID over the years about activism and how to fight for the causes we believe in, and win. Our city is hurting right now, and things may get worse before they get better, but I know that if we come together and fight for our convictions, we will make it through these dark times and build a brighter future.”
The Club endorsed Chris Marte, for City Council of District 1. “I am honored and excited to have the support of Village Independent Democrats. They are as committed to policy as they are to voter outreach,” he said afterwards. “As a club, they have been dedicated advocates for immigrant justice, tenants’ rights, and the environment. I have deep respect for so many of their members, and know that together we are going to lead Lower Manhattan into a better future.”
Chris got 55 votes. District Leader Jenny Low came in second with nine. Gigi Li followed with six, Maud Maron two, and Tiffany Winbush one.
Chris was born and raised in the Lower East Side, where he stacked cans in his dad’s bodega and attended local public schools. After working at IBM, he served on the Young Professionals Board of Defy Ventures, at which he helped formerly incarcerated people start their own businesses. He has also served as a legal researcher at an immigration law firm and as the New York State Director at Arena to train political candidates and campaign staffers.
Carlina Rivera, who is running for reelection unopposed, got the Club’s endorsement for City Council District 2. “I want to thank the Village Independent Democrats for supporting me for re-election,” she said. “This organization is known for promoting progressive candidates and causes, and I look forward to continuing to work on our shared goals of housing rights, justice reform, education equity, and gun violence prevention into my next term.”
Carlina was born and raised in the Lower East Side by a single mother from Puerto Rico, and began her career as an organizer working on behalf of seniors and homeless people in the community in which she still lives. Since joining the City Council in 2017, she has focused on a wide range of issues, including housing, transportation, and small business, health care, and gender equity.
As part of its general meeting, VID also elected its new executive leadership. In a break from tradition, the club will now have a co-presidency: Cameron Krause and Mar Fitzgerald will lead the club for the next year, while Lauren Esposito, Jonathan Geballe, and Patricia Laraia will serve as vice presidents.
Village Independent Democrats is known for the energy and enthusiasm of its membership and for providing forums for lively debate on contentious issues. One of the oldest reform political clubs—and among the most influential—in New York City, VID represents much of City Council District 3, which includes the West Village, and portions of Districts 2 and 3, which includes parts of the East Village and Chinatown.
VID holds its monthly meetings every third Thursday from 6:30-9:30. During the pandemic, its meetings and special events are being held virtually. Visit the club’s website, villagedemocrats.org, to learn more about the organization and its upcoming events.