25,000 in NYC vote for a socialist mayor

Cathy Rojas, a socialist, received more votes in the Nov. 2 New York City mayoral election than any left candidate running for that office in 68 years. 

As of Nov. 11, with only 78% of the mayoral vote reported, Rojas, candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, was just shy of 25,000 votes. This places her third in the mayoral election behind Democratic candidate Eric Adams, the victor, and Republican candidate Curtis Silwa. Rojas received 2.5% of the overall vote, more than the other third party candidates combined.

Rojas described the response to her campaign as “proof that a current of resistance is also growing.” She said, “Our socialist platform resonated all across New York and now, more than ever, the “red scare” fog is finally lifting.”

Karla Reyes, the Rojas for Mayor campaign manager, said: “This vote total is the highest of any independent left-wing challenger, whether socialist or Green, since 1953 and the highest percentage since 1949, when the American Labor Party ran candidates for mayor. This is the best that any independent left candidate has done since the beginning of the Cold War, when the witch hunt closed so much of the country’s political space and worked to destroy many prominent left and working-class institutions here in New York City.” 

Rojas, a 30-year-old high school teacher from Queens and daughter of immigrants, campaigned to “rebuild and transform” this metropolis of 8 million people to make it “a city for all, not the rich.”  

Her program called for healthcare, jobs and housing for all, ending racist police brutality, and taxing the rich in this city with scores of billionaires to make this happen (see Rojas4Mayor.NYC).  Reyes said, “Our socialist platform outlined in a realistic and concrete way how the city’s resources can be used to meet the needs of New Yorkers.”

The campaign, Reyes continued, “sought to define what democracy should look like, by exposing how truly undemocratic capitalism is and affirming that workers already have the capability to rebuild, transform and run our society if they standup and fight together to make it happen.”

A tiny budget and enthusiastic volunteers

Eric Adams, the Democrat who won the election, courted the financially powerful in this city of Wall Street, raising $19 million for his campaign with the promise that “New York will no longer be anti-business.”

In marked contrast, Rojas directed herself to bodega workers, taxi drivers, housekeepers, immigrants, struggling single moms, small business owners and students. She walked union picket lines and marched to protect abortion rights. She stood on street corners in Harlem, and deep in the communities of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, listening to people and presenting her program.

With a war chest of just a few thousand dollars, her campaign was built by enthusiastic working-class volunteers who put up posters, distributed palm cards, held street meetings and knocked on doors for Cathy, often when they finished their day job.

Volunteers in Brooklyn. Liberation photo

‘The best mayoral candidate for Harlem’

Endorsers of her campaign did not come from board rooms. They included the families of victims of police brutality, progressive and socialist politicians like Julia Salazar and Kristin Richardson Jordan, union leader Evangeline Byars and the Bronx Green Party.

Kristin Richardson Jordan, the City Councel member-elect for Central Harlem’s District 9, described Rojas as “the best mayoral candidate for Harlem and her policies are truly in service to Black liberation and in the vein of breaking systemic racism, white supremacy and patriarchy.”

State Senator Julia Salazar, a member of Democratic Socialists of America, called it “crucial that we challenge political hegemony by supporting Cathy: an inspiring, socialist candidate who is running to truly be the voice for the people.”

Boycotted by establishment media

Rojas didn’t have to look very far to demonstrate her goal of exposing the undemocratic nature of the system. The candidate was excluded from the two major television debates which featured only Adams and Silwa. Why? Because she hadn’t raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Despite issuing almost daily media releases for months, the vast establishment media based in this city only once covered her campaign.

For days after the election, the New York Times failed to even list Rojas’ party when reporting the vote count, referring to it as “Independent.” Days later, with complaints mounting, they finally changed it to “Socialism and Liberation.”

‘NYC won’t forget the socialist party that took on big business’

Reyes said: “At every level, the capitalist class tried to deter and bar us from these elections, like excluding us from all televised debates and mainstream media coverage and spending outrageous amounts of money on advertising and media coverage. Still, they failed to stop us.

“We showed all of NYC that, despite such unfair conditions, we could accomplish so much through our organization and the support of our class. NYC won’t forget that, and they won’t forget us, the socialist party that took on the big business parties; the socialist teacher who challenged the ex-cop [Adams] and the vigilante [Silwa] and showed them what it means to be a true working-class leader; the organizers in their red Rojas 4 Mayor tees knocking on doors and standing on the street corners telling people what socialism is really all about.”

‘Rojas calls on NYC workers to concede nothing’

What does Rojas have to say now that her campaign is over?

Rojas leads chants defending abortion rights. Liberation photo

“The big bankers and corporate bosses along with their media mouthpieces will claim that Eric Adams’s victory means voters want more conservative policies. After months of campaigning in neighborhoods across the city, let us say this: we don’t believe it. 

“People want a city for all, not the rich, where human needs matter more than profit margins. On the other side, the big corporations and developers will be looking to cash in on their investments in the Adams administration.

“So while we may concede this electoral outcome, we call on the NYC working class to concede nothing in the broader struggles to come. Join us and together we can build a movement of poor and working-class people that fights year-round for the city we all deserve, and is prepared to do so on day one of the Adams administration.”

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