Students and faculty react to mayoral and gubernatorial elections


Lucy Peck and Ceci Coughlin

Last Tuesday’s mayoral race in New York City and the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey sparked political conversations in the school community.

In NYC, Democrat Eric Adams was elected mayor with 66.5% of the popular vote, according to Politico. In Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin was elected governor and Democrat Phil Murphy is projected to be re-elected as governor of New Jersey.

Nitika Subramanian (11) finds key differences between congressional and mayoral elections. Congressional races rely more on specific policy while mayoral races are based more heavily on the leadership style of a particular candidate, she said.

This distinction is true for much of politics, Subramanian said. “Like electing presidents, people don’t care about politics as much as they care about how someone presents themselves and how big man macho they sound,” she said.

Members of the school differ in their opinions on what mayor Adams has to offer NYC. Dalia Pustilnik (12) is glad that Adams won over Sliwa. “Adams is open to the idea of more vaccine mandates in public office and public workers in the city and in public schools.” Sliwa, on the other hand, is anti-vaccine and will neither defund nor reform the police, two deal-breaking policies for Pustilnik, she said. Although he will not do so in the ways Pustilnik would like, Adams seems more dedicated to reforming or restructuring the NYPD than Sliwa, she said.

Subramanian also liked Adams more than Sliwa, although she said there were better options. One flaw she saw in Sliwa is the nonprofit group he established in 1979 when crime rates began to soar, called Guardian Angels NYC. The group’s volunteers patrolled the city’s sidewalks to prevent violent crime. “They do good work, but sometimes it feels like they are just raiding against homeless people for the sake of being homeless,” she said.

Michelle Orloff (10) is hopeful that Adams will bring positive social change. “Adams used to be a police officer so I think he will be able to help fix the police department,” she said. “His past might be able to help him better understand the roots of the issues and how to approach them and solve them,” she said. Adams might also be able to relate and empathize with the police, she said. 

Though Jordan Wasserberger (12) has heard the argument that Adams isn’t experienced enough to be a New York politician, he disagrees. “He’s clearly someone who does well for himself in that space and certainly knows the city very well.”

Braden Queen (11) supports Curtis Sliwa, but he agrees that Adams can improve the city, he said. “Sliwa is a Republican, more moderate than Trump, who wants to make our cities low crime,” Queen said. “But Eric Adams is pretty moderate so I don’t dislike him. I think he will do a good job with his experience as a police officer, the police definitely need to be reformed.”

“New York is at a very precarious point,” Wasserberger said. “We will either go the wrong way and fall into chaos and see continual increases in crime and poverty or we will do something to get the city back on track.”

During the NYC mayoral primary elections, there were multiple choices for candidates from various political parties. “The real choice was in the earlier primary election between the Democratic candidates,” UD English teacher Rebecca Bahr said.

Subramanian supported Kathryn Garcia, she said. Voting for someone that will be a confident leader, such as Garcia, is important, Subramanian said. “With mayoral elections, the person who you ideologically match with doesn’t matter as much as who you think is going to be a confident leader.” 

Subramanian also liked particular aspects of Garcia’s campaign, she said. Garcia’s policies were relatively agreeable, and her leadership during the pandemic as Commissioner of the NYC Sanitation Department was notable, she said.

Wasserberger liked Andrew Yang and Ray McGuire’s qualities, he said. Yang thought outside the box with ideas such as “Forward,” a third political party, Wasserberger said. “Ray McGuire shares a lot of those same qualities. He was also one of the more personable candidates.”

Leading up to the primaries, Bahr researched all the candidates using a few government websites that laid out political issues and explained what was happening, she said. “Sometimes I also read others’ opinions so I can see which candidate is endorsed by what website, and then I formulate my own opinion based on that research.”

VA’s race for governor had more shocking results than the NYC election for Subramanian. “It’s really interesting that a big part of the race was whether COVID vaccines and critical race theory should be required in schools in Virginia,” she said.

Democrats lost the conservative base they pulled from Trump during the 2020 presidential elections, Subramanian said. “There was increased voter turnout but Republicans won. Usually when there is increased voter turnout Democrats win, so I thought that was interesting.”

Wasserberger expected a win for the Democrats given VA’s history. “It’s one of the most remarkable political things that has happened in America in a long time,” he said. “The fact that Youngkin could single-handedly flip Virginia from what I would call a blue or certainly purple state to a fully red state at every level of the government is amazing. From a political science perspective, it’s remarkable.” 

“At the same time, Youngkin is a very smart guy who ran a really good campaign and proved that you can win as a Republican and separate yourself from Trump,” Wasserberger said.

Queen shared a similar sentiment. “Moderate Republicans that aren’t Trump can be a voice of reason,” he said.

UD math teacher Charles Worrall did not find the VA results unexpected. In fact, he was surprised that the press was so shocked. “Every year after a presidential election, the governors and other big races swing towards the party that lost the presidential election,” he said. “It’s absolutely not surprising, and I don’t see how the press can allow itself to become a single voice saying, ‘Biden’s presidency is over because of this outcome.’”

Wasserberger was surprised by the outcome of the gubernatorial race in NJ, he said. “I don’t think people thought a Republican was going to win in NJ, because it is one of the deepest blue states in America, but the fact that Republicans got 49 percent of the vote is unbelievable.”

Regardless of where they are on the political spectrum, it is great to see that people across the board are more engaged with what is going on, Wasserberger said. “We are all more engaged with the rise of Twitter, Instagram and social media,” he said. “More people voting and participating in our democracy means that our democracy is healthier and stronger.”

Bahr also believes in the importance of voting. “We are citizens of this country and one of the only ways we can have a say in our democracy is to vote,” she said. During the 2016 election with Donald Trump, the country saw the repercussions of not voting, she said. “It is crucial to pay attention to all our politics, local, city, state and national, be an active member, and be informed.”

Worrall agrees that voting is crucial, he said. “[Voting] is the most effective and important mechanism for us all to be governed in the ways we think are right.” The United States cannot let the fundamental structure of voting come into question, he said. “The idea of democracy seems to be under assault and I hope that the election winners can help with that.”