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Bill Perkins Wins Harlem Special Election

By Dartunorro Clark | February 14, 2017 5:58pm
 State Sen. Bill Perkins previously represented Harlem in the city council from 1998 to 2005.
State Sen. Bill Perkins previously represented Harlem in the city council from 1998 to 2005.
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DNAinfo/Emily Frost

HARLEM — A familiar face is headed back to the city council.

State Sen. Bill Perkins beat a crowded field of candidates to win Tuesday’s special election to represent Harlem for the second time, according to preliminary numbers from the city Board of Elections.

With roughly 98 percent of the vote reported, Perkins was ahead with 34 percent of the vote. Marvin Holland, the political director of the Transport Workers Union Local 100, finished in second place with about 19 percent of the vote.

Perkins, a Democrat, previously represented the district from 1998 to 2005 before taking a seat in the state Senate in 2006. It encompasses Central Harlem and parts of East and West Harlem, Morningside Heights and the Upper West Side.

There were nine candidates running for the district 9 seat, which was vacated earlier this year when Inez Dickens was sworn into the state Assembly.

The race originally attracted 14 candidates, but five were kicked off the ballot after either a challenge by a rival or the Board of Elections, leaving a total of nine people on Tuesday's ballot: Perkins; Holland; Former Manhattan Community Board 9 Vice-Chair and businessman Charles Cooper; Perkins’ former Chief of Staff Cordell Cleare; Educator and activist Caprice Alves; Former teacher and social worker Dawn Simmons; Real estate broker Todd Stevens; FreshDirect VP Larry Scott Blackmon; and Former Manhattan Borough President aide Athena Moore.

More than 11,000 voters came out in the election — a low turnout given the 113,151 enrolled voters in Council District 9 as of April 2016, according to the BOE.

Perkins celebrated at his campaign headquarters Tuesday night on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard.

He said the win was “energizing” and he was ready to head back to the council after being “crippled” in the state senate minority partly due to an independent group of Democrats who have caucused with Republicans.

“I was put on ice being in the minority,” he said.

He said heading back to the council “feels like an opportunity… a door opens and you realize there are things you can accomplish.”

However, the term for the special election only goes until the end of this year. Perkins would have to face-off against challengers again in September for the primary to be elected to a full four-year term in the council.  

Perkins is expected to be sworn-in immediately. Gov. Andrew Cuomo needs to decide if he will call a special election to fill Perkins' now vacant senate seat. The term for that seat ends in 2018.