Andy King won the 12th City Council District in a reported landslide last night, securing the seat that former Councilman Larry Seabrook held until he was ousted in scandal.
Just as King began his jubilant victory speech at campaign headquarters in the north Bronx, President Obama’s reelection was announced on the television behind him and King’s composure dissolved along with the crowd’s.
King, turned to the TV, fist pumping, yelling along with the crowd in sheer delight. After a time the cheering resolved into the chant, “Obama, King! Obama, King! Obama, King!” It was the culmination of an evening where it was often easy to forget that you weren’t at just another Obama election party. (Even King’s campaign posters juxtaposed him with Obama.)
Things eventually calmed down and King returned to where he’d left off. Having sincerely thanked Jesus Christ, his wife and parents, as well as the public officials and political heavyweights who had supported him and the campaign workers who had made it all possible, he then assured them that just as the campaign effort required the involvement of his community, so would his time in public office.
“You’re not sending me down to City Hall by myself,” he declared. “When I get elected, we get elected.”
The crowd included union members, young adults from his nonprofit Youth Empowerment Program, public officials like Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Bronx Democratic Committee Chairman Carl Heastie and people who had grown up with King or were inspired by his commitment to the neighborhood.
“When you have lived in your community your entire life … you can just sense the pulse in everything,” Heastie said of King.
John Isaac, a youth mentor who also worked on King’s campaign, said he was drawn to King’s penchant for helping young people. “It coincides with my passion as well,” he said. “It’s like a meeting of the hearts.”
Lisa Davoren said she was in the first grade with King in the very same Williamsbridge neighborhood where they were now celebrating his victory. “He’s lived here forever,” she said. “He knows what this community needs.”
The backdrop for King and President Obama’s victory is what appears at first glance to be a high turnout at the polls, both nationally and locally. News sources from Oregon, North Carolina and California are reporting likely voter turnout over 70 percent.
City Councilman Fernando Rivera, who was out campaigning with King in Co-op City Tuesday, said he’d never seen such crowded polls in his own 14th District. “There were even more people than four years ago,” he said.
At the Dreiser polling station in Co-op City, the lines were out the door, despite no apparent problems with the voting machines or procedures. Coordinator Dwayne Brown also said there were more people than he’d ever experienced.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 16; now I’m 35,” he said. “I’m seeing people here I’ve never seen before.”