A moderate Democrat who is among the New York City Council’s most powerful members beat his Republican opponent on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. By prevailing in the southern Brooklyn race, Democrats held a council seat that had shown signs of drifting away from their control.
The Democrat, Justin Brannan, the Council’s finance chairman, defeated Ari Kagan, who was elected to the Council as a Democrat in 2021, but left the party last year and quickly adopted Republican stances on issues such as abortion and crime.
The two incumbents wound up running in the same southern Brooklyn district as a result of a once-in-a-decade redistricting process that saw all 51 Council seats up for re-election.
Democrats overwhelmingly control the City Council, and many ran unopposed on Tuesday — including Yusef Salaam, one of the so-called Central Park Five defendants who won a hotly contested Council primary in Harlem this past summer.
Mr. Salaam, whose uncontested victory offered little drama but attracted outsize interest, said it was ironic that as he was formally elected to the Council, former President Donald J. Trump was facing multiple criminal trials.
Mr. Trump had called for the reinstatement of the death penalty after Mr. Salaam, one of five Black and Latino men exonerated in 2002 in the rape and assault of a female jogger in Central Park 13 years earlier, was first arrested.
“Karma is real and we have to remember that,” Mr. Salaam said in an interview on Tuesday.
Republicans were hoping to flip a seat or two on Tuesday, with Mr. Kagan and a candidate in the Bronx, Kristy Marmorato, thought to be their best hopes. Ms. Marmorato, an X-ray technician running on the Republican and Conservative lines, was challenging Marjorie Velázquez, the Democratic incumbent in the northern Bronx.
Ms. Velázquez ran as a progressive in 2021 but backed away from that designation when she left the Council’s Progressive Caucus this year after its members were asked to sign a statement of principles that agreed to reducing “the size and scope” of the Police Department.
Republicans viewed Ms. Velázquez as vulnerable on the issue of public safety and development and focused heavily on the race. She was criticized for supporting a rezoning of the Bruckner Boulevard area that would bring affordable housing to the neighborhood.
The growth in the size and political influence of the Asian American community were also reflected on this year’s ballot.
In a new southern Brooklyn district that was created as part of the redistricting process to account for the growth of that community, Susan Zhuang, a Democrat and the chief of staff for William Colton, an assemblyman, defeated Ying Tan, the Republican.
In northern Queens, the Republican incumbent, Vickie Paladino, defeated Tony Avella, a Democrat and former council member, in a rematch from two years ago.
Inna Vernikov, a Republican who was recently charged with openly displaying a gun on her hip at a pro-Palestine rally where she was a counterprotester, easily defeated two candidates in another South Brooklyn district.
Melinda Katz, the Queens district attorney and a moderate Democrat, also won easily over Michael Mossa, the Republican nominee. Mr. Mossa tried unsuccessfully to paint Ms. Katz as a far-left progressive who was soft on crime.
Voters also approved two statewide ballot measures that would allow local governments to increase their debt limits for building sewage-treatment plants and for school districts in small cities to improve their physical properties.
In southern Brooklyn, Mr. Kagan said in a concession speech that he had focused on “issues that are very important to all New Yorkers,” including lower taxes and public safety.
Mr. Brannan, whose campaign had even faced resistance from Brooklyn’s Democratic Party leader, called his victory a triumph over “toxic tribalism” as he thanked his supporters and promised to serve all of his constituents regardless of their political affiliation.
“Tonight is really a victory for the end of divide-and-conquer politics in neighborhoods that really need some representation,” Mr. Brannan shouted to a packed room.
Reporting was contributed by Julie Ho, Wesley Parnell and Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner.