A Narrow Win for Chin But, Says Challenger Marte, 'It's Not Over Yet'

On election night Tuesday at a Mott Street restaurant, Margaret Chin celebrates with her supporters as all polling station results are counted and she wins by 200 votes. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib  

Sep. 13, 2017

UPDATE Thrs. 9/23: Christopher Marte told the Trib that he has yet to concede the victory to Margaret Chin but is waiting for the Board of Elections to certify the results, which had been expected earlier in the week. However, he said, he doesn't anticipate calling for a recount. As for whether he would consider running a campaign as an independent, "We're just thinking about all the options."

Nail biting turned to jubilation at a Chinatown restaurant on election night Tuesday as Margaret Chin appeared to lock in, but just barely, her third City Council primary victory.

“Four more years! Four more years!” her supporters chanted.

In this, her sixth Democratic primary run to represent Lower Manhattan in District 1, Chin squeaked by first-time candidate Christopher Marte, 28, by just 200 votes—a margin of less than two percent and too close, Marte said, to concede defeat.

“We still have hope,” Marte told the Trib in a telephone interview on Wednesday. He said he is waiting for the official tally next week, after absentee ballots and affidavits are counted. After that, he said, he expects to call for a recount. “We don’t think it’s over yet. Two hundred votes are really slim and so we’re keeping at it.” An automatic recount by the city’s Board of Elections is triggered by a difference of one-half of one percent.

While many Chin supporters on election night huddled around a widescreen TV at the rear of the restaurant Canton Lounge, anxious for each new tally, Chin herself rarely paid attention to the results, choosing instead to socialize and smile for pictures.

But the narrow lead was a surprise, she admitted, and given a chance she was eager to place the blame.

“I really didn’t expect it to be this close,” Chin said, as the results continued to come in. “But unfortunately my opponents spread a lot of lies and really used a lot of dirty tactics.” The frequent claims made against her in the campaign, that she was too cozy with developers, still stung, she said.

“In this election,” Chin later told supporters in her victory speech, “the only thing that I felt hurt about [was] there was so much hate and lies. Unfortunately, what happened on the national level got translated down to the local level and that should not be.”

Chin pointed to an organization active in Chinatown and the Lower East Side, the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops (NMAS), that had been especially aggressive in its attacks on her (calling her a “racist” and “liar” over development issues) and was aligned with her opponent Dashia Imperiale.

Marte said his campaign never adopted or supported such statements, but he repeated claims about Chin’s alleged ties to real estate interests. “It’s one of the reasons it became a hot topic, because people were concerned,” he said.

In the meantime, Marte labeled as spoilers the two other candidates hoping to unseat Chin, Aaron Foldenauer (6.99 %) and Imperiale (3.9 %). (Both dismissed that notion in interviews with The Villager.) Having come into the race early and with the most funding and support, Marte said he had offered Chin’s opponents the best hope.  

“I was always wondering, why are they running?” Marte said of Foldenauer and Imperiale. “They had different reasons to do it, but if their main objective was to have a new City Council person, I think they were part of not making that happen.”