By Sam Bojarski

It may take several days before results from New York’s June 23 primary are finalized, but two Haitian-American candidates are in close races for seats in the state legislature. 

Most of the incumbent candidates for state assembly‒ Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-11), Michaelle Solages (D-22), Rodneyse Bichotte (D-42) and Mathylde Frontus (D-46) ‒ ran uncontested and will remain in office for another two-year term. 

As of June 24, Assembly Member Clyde Vanel (D-33) appeared to have a handy lead over his challenger Oster Bryan, with 87 percent of the vote. Valerie Cartright and Phara Souffrant Forrest, two Haitian-Americans seeking state office for the first time, are locked in close races, as the state finalizes its tally of absentee ballots. 

According to media reports, some results could be delayed for at least two weeks, as many voters have opted to vote via absentee ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 700,000 Democrats in New York City requested mail-in ballots for congressional and state legislative contests. 

Forrest, who is running to represent Assembly District 57, which encompasses the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, released a statement on June 24 about the preliminary election results. The Democratic primary pits Forrest against Walter Mosley, who was elected to the state assembly in 2012. 

“As of this morning, we are down by only 588 votes. While my opponent has declared victory, we are optimistic that the absentee ballots will break in our favor when the paper canvass is conducted next week. Based on absentee data we have obtained from the (Board of Elections), we are optimistic that a majority of the absentee ballots were requested from our supporters and will break in our favor,” Forrest said in the statement. 

“We are confident not only because of the data from the BOE, but also because we were the only campaign that made a meaningful effort in this race to ask the people of this district for their support,” Forrest also said.

Data reported by the New York Times on June 24 showed Mosley with 52 percent of the vote, to Forrest’s 48 percent. 

In the race for state Senate District 1, Haitian-American Valerie Cartright was trailing her opponent Laura Ahearn by three percentage points, with Ahearn garnering 31 percent of the vote. Cartright did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment. 

“Last night, we saw the results of in-person early voting ballots and Election Day ballots and those numbers placed me only 240 votes from being the front-runner. There are tens of thousands of absentee ballots still to be counted in the race for New York State Senate District One and many other primary races,” Cartright wrote in a post on her campaign’s Facebook page

Elsewhere in the state, Eudson Tyson Francois of Spring Valley had garnered nearly 23 percent of the vote in the contest for Senate District 38, with 27 of 68 precincts reporting. The leader in the race, Justin Sweet, stood at 41 percent.

Haitian-American Lutchi Gayot was well behind his four Democratic primary opponents in the race to represent New York’s Ninth Congressional District. Incumbent Yvette Clarke, the likely winner, has captured more than 62 percent of the vote. 

Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America fellow. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.

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