Categorized | Politics

Bronx Voters Go for Thompson in a Landslide

by Fred Dreier

Reporting for this story:  Alex Abu Ata, Mamta Badkar, Alex Berg, Connor Boals, Maia Efrem, Donal Griffin, Matthew Huisman, Wanda Hellmund, Alec Johnson, Shefali Kulkarni, Jose Leyva, Leslie Minora, Amanda Staab, Mustafa Vural, Sarah Wali and Carmen Williams.

Video by Wanda Hellmund

Bronx voters told reporters yesterday they voted for Democratic challenger William Thompson by a 2-to-1 margin over incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg because they believed two terms was enough for the city’s most powerful office.

Most voters surveyed yesterday insisted the billionaire businessman bought himself a third term, spending a record $90 million of his own money on the campaign— making Bloomberg’s the most expensive campaign in the history of New York City’s mayoral races.

“He changed the term limit, that’s something a third world country would do,” said Luis Peterson, a tailor for Calvin Klein who lives in the Fordham neighborhood. “The arrogance of having money and buying yourself a seat in this day and age is beyond me.”

It’s nothing new for the city’s northernmost borough to vote against the mainstream. The Bronx is the poorest congressional voting district in the United States and owns a long history of leaning left. This is the fifth consecutive time the Bronx has sided with a Democratic candidate who failed in New York City’s biggest political race.

“It’s crazy, it feels like Bloomberg’s had a dictatorship,” said Lee Heath, 42, who voted at P.S. 59 in the East Tremont neighborhood. “Two terms is long enough, it’s time for a change.”

The 2009 election is a blow to the Bronx army of Bloomberg opponents, who snubbed the Republican turned Independence candidate en masse in his successful 2001 and 2005 campaigns. In 2005, Democrat Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx Borough President, gobbled up 65 percent of the Bronx vote. He was crushed by Bloomberg in the citywide vote by 20 points.

Thompson fared much better than Ferrer in the general vote. Despite early predictions of his disastrous defeat, the 56-year-old former city comptroller lost only by 40,000 total votes.

Complaints against Bloomberg’s administration dominated the survey, which targeted 39 polling sites spread throughout the borough’s 10 voting assemblies. Of the 171 voters interviewed, 112 said they cast their vote for Thompson and 57 for Bloomberg. One voter cast his ballot for Green party candidate Billy Talon.

The lion’s share of Thompson supporters admitted they voted against Bloomberg, not because of Thompson’s achievements as comptroller.

“Eight years is enough — it’s someone else’s turn,” said Nathaniel Holloway, a truck driver who lives in Mott Haven. “Everyone else gets two [terms], why should he get three?”

In addition to campaign finance and term limits, voters listed a wide range of gripes  with Bloomberg’s administration, from higher transportation costs to rent prices, unemployment and the mayor’s education reform.

One voter had a more specific complaint. Pamela Thomas in Kingsbridge Heights said she was not fond of the mayor’s treatment of former New York Giant’s Super Bowl MVP wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who was sentenced to two years in jail by the State Supreme Court in Manhattan for criminal possession of a handgun dating from an incident in 2008.

Bloomberg publicly called for Burress to be prosecuted under the full extent of the law during his trial in September of this year.

“That was too harsh,” Thomas said. “Plaxico shot himself — that’s enough punishment.” 

A surprisingly large number of Thompson supporters, however, admitted they knew very little about their candidate.

Both candidates received criticism in the lead-up to the election for neglecting the Bronx. The neglect could have cost Thompson Democratic votes in the borough.

According to Mott Haven resident Sharifa Mohammed, a Democrat who hails from Trinidad, Thompson did not define himself as a candidate in the election. Mohammed voted for Bloomberg. “He didn’t make a stand on what he’s done or what he wants to do,” Mohammed said. “I have seen what Bloomberg has done. I saw what he did in the schools.”

Mohammed’s vote was among the minority in Mott Haven, where 22 of 29 surveyed voters said they cast their ballots for Thompson. Nearly half the residents of the 84th assembly district that includes Mott Haven live in poverty. The median income is just over $20,000.

In the wealthier sections of the Bronx, Bloomberg supporters were in the majority. In Riverdale, in the northwest edge of the Bronx, 7 of the 12 surveyed voters said they favored Bloomberg. The neighborhood boasts a median income of $51,000. Its poverty rate is 25 percent.

“I know people are sketched about the term limits,” said Amit Elhanan, a law school student. “But I don’t see a reason if the person is doing a good job.”

Just east of the neighborhood in Kingsbridge Heights, the citizens split along party lines. Thompson supporters held a slight advantage over Bloomberg. But it was the Bloomberg supporters who said they voted for their candidate based on his actions, not on those of his opponent. 

“I voted for Thompson for comptroller — I got nothing against him, I think he’s done a good job,” said Jeff Sternberg, 60. “I’ve been around the city and seen the economic development Bloomberg has done and I support it. If you go to Williamsburg or Greenpoint, those places have really changed.”

Turnout for the election was not known by press time, but numerous polling stations reported lighter turnouts than last year’s presidential elections. Voters who came in the mid morning enjoyed short lines and limited waiting time.

Arthur Marhs, a volunteer manning the polling site at P.S. 59 in East Tremont, said all seven of the lever-action polls were in use. 
“Everything’s running OK in there,” Marhs said. “There’s hardly anyone inside right now. It’s a good time to vote.”

Stay tuned to for more news and updates from the 2009 New York City mayoral election.

2 Responses to “Bronx Voters Go for Thompson in a Landslide”

  1. avatar Le Bania says:

    What we have been hearing for a long time now that the leaders of the parties have lost connections with the Populace. The leadership we have now say pick a side. I don’t wish to pick one side or other. I would preferably pick a individual that believes in the comparable values that I believe in and I actually don’t give a flying **** what political party he/she belongs to. If it doesn’t fit don’t buy it. That’s as simple as can be.


  1. […] Elsewhere in the Bronx, William Thompson Jr., the Democratic candidate was dominating. In the end, he took 51 percent of the Bronx vote. Our class broke down all of our polling into an excellent summary piece, which can be read over at The Bronx Ink. […]

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