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Voters Hit the Polls in Washington Heights, Inwood to Vote in New Reps for State Senate and Assembly

By Carla Zanoni | September 14, 2010 9:01pm | Updated on September 15, 2010 2:09am

By Carla Zanoni

DNAinfo Reporter/ Producer

UPPER MANHATTAN — Two familiar faces won the races for state Senate and Assembly in Tuesday's primary elections in Washington Heights and Inwood.

Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat garnered over 51 percent of the vote and will replace State Sen. Eric Schneiderman in the 31st Senate district.

His longtime foe and new-political ally, former City Councilman Guillermo Linares, won Espaillat's soon-to-be vacated spot in the 72nd Assembly district with 48 percent of the vote.

Espaillat and Linares celebrated their respective wins at two Upper Manhattan nightclubs, with Espaillat's camp partying at 809 Lounge in Inwood and Linares' at Arka Lounge in Washington Heights.

Espaillat's primary rival Mark Levine conceded the loss at his Inwood campaign headquarters on Broadway at 215th Street, where he stood with a somber group of volunteers, family, friends and advisers.

"This is only the beginning," he said with a broad smile as he hugged  campaign staffers.

"Thanks to the thousands of you who built our movement for change," he wrote on his campaign's Facebook page early Wednesday morning. "We didn't quite get there tonight. But I'm so proud of all you accomplished."

Despite the loss, Levine received a competitive amount of votes, ending up with nearly 39 percent of the vote, or 8,326 votes versus Espaillat's 10,969.

Earlier in the day, residents of Inwood and Washington Heights hit the polls in dribs and drabs.

Although neither race featured an incumbent — though both had well-known front runners — an anti-Albany sentiment was repeatedly expressed at polling locations and the plentiful posters, placards and number of people handing out fliers attested to the seriousness with which each candidate took the race.

State Sen. Eric Schneiderman's run for state attorney general left the state Senate seat he has held for 12 years open.

Espaillat, who is widely believed to have his eyes on the U.S. Congress, beat out opponents Miosotis Muñoz, Anna Lewis and Mark Levine.

Rachel Lewis, 43, a mother of two who lives on Bennett Avenue, said she was ready for an Albany outsider, and that's why she voted for Levine, a Democratic district leader and community organizer.

"We need fresh blood and I think Levine can bring some change here," she said.

But security guard Michael Tejeda, 44, trusted Espaillat, who has represented the area in Albany for seven terms.

"I voted for Adriano Espaillat, because he will fight to keep us here," said the Washington Heights resident.

Meanwhile, Guillermo Linares, who previously represented Inwood and Washington Heights as a City Councilman from 1991 to 2001, bested relatively unknown opponents including Gabriela Rosa, Julissa Gomez, Nelson Denis and Miguel Estrella for the 72nd District Assembly seat.

Washington Heights resident and social worker Marianna Gonzalez, 32, said that she voted for Gomez for the Assembly seat.

"We need change," she said, noting that she had also voted for Levine for state Senate.

Even incumbent Assemblyman Herman "Denny" Farrell, who ran for reelection in the Assembly’s 71st District against underfunded Democrat Ariel Ferreira, said he had campaigned hard this election season.

"I treated it as a real race, even though I am basically running against myself," he said. "It gave me a chance to go out to people and thank them for keeping me in office."

Farrell won in a landslide with over 74 percent of the vote.

Although the primary day election focused heavily on Democratic elections, Republicans did have their say in a few elections as well.

But for Inwood resident Kimberly Chin, her choices as a Republican were slim.

Chin, whose family is Chinese, said voting as a Republican in Manhattan has long made her feel like a "double minority," and said she feels largely ignored by the Republican party during local elections.

She said she was only the second Republican to vote in her district — the first was her husband.

"Republicans are very weak here, so it boils down to a one party system," she said. "Sometimes my votes are protest votes more than anything. I’ll cross party lines in November."