A Winner for 9th Council District Seat, for Now

Bill Perkins (Photo via Amsterdam News)

State Sen. Bill Perkins on Feb. 14 won a special election to fill the 9th District City Council seat vacated by Inez Dickens, easily beating out his eight competitors with more than 33 percent of the vote. For Perkins, the win returns him to the council, where he served from 1998 to 2005 before heading for the state senate. But if he wants to serve past the end of the year, he will have to run again in the fall to beat out any primary challengers who may enter, or re-enter, the fray. The 9th district spans Central Harlem and parts of East and West Harlem.

In the lead-up to the special election, a number of the candidates visited the Amsterdam News to seek its endorsement. The paper stated in an editorial that “few candidates for political office have the background and experience of Bill Perkins,” and noted that Perkins has been at the forefront of improving the community’s infrastructure, fighting to remove rats and lead paint from the environment.

But the paper had good things to say about a number of the other candidates, some of whom may decide to challenge Perkins in the primary. It reserved its greatest praise for Cordell Cleare, who has served as Perkins’ chief of staff.

It’s not possible to cite Sen. Perkins’ successes, whether on the City Council or in Albany, without the effective service of Cordell Cleare. To be sure, for more than 18 years the two public servants have been inextricably linked, but Cleare has community commitments and leadership apart from her tenure with Perkins, including her position on District #3 Community Education Council and her indefatigable fight for tenants’ rights and fiscal equity. Her deep roots in Harlem are widely recognized, particularly her energetic effort to get Barack Obama elected.

Meanwhile, as the Amsterdam News noted post-election:

Now that Perkins is headed to city hall his state senate seat is vacant, which means there will have to be another special election. No word on whether or not there will be one.

That decision will be made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The term for the state senate seat ends in 2018.

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