Yusef Salaam Is Declared Winner of Harlem City Council Primary Race


Mr. Salaam was one of the Central Park Five who were wrongly convicted and then exonerated in the rape and assault of a jogger in Central Park in 1989.

Yusef Salaam, one of five Black and Latino men whose convictions were overturned in the 1989 rape and assault of a female jogger in Central Park, cemented his victory in a highly contested City Council primary race in Harlem, according to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Mr. Salaam, 49, held a commanding lead on Election Day, with more than twice the number of votes over his closest rival, Inez Dickens, a state assemblywoman. The New York City Board of Elections began tabulating ranked-choice votes on Wednesday, and the new ranked-choice tabulation now shows Mr. Salaam with almost 64 percent of the vote to Ms. Dickens’s 36 percent.

“This is a victory for justice, dignity and decency for the Harlem community we love,” Mr. Salaam said in a statement. “It’s a victory in support of not turning our backs on those in need, for saying we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and for saying the only way for all of us to thrive is to believe in the promise we all have.”

In addition to Ms. Dickens, Mr. Salaam defeated another sitting member of the Assembly, Al Taylor, who is serving his sixth year in the Legislature. Mr. Salaam is not expected to face a serious challenger, if any, in November.

He will succeed Kristin Richardson Jordan, a democratic socialist who was one of the most far-left members of the City Council. She dropped out of the primary in May, but her name still remained on the ballot and she will serve out her term.

All three candidates were moderates who sought to distance themselves from Ms. Jordan’s far-left views on issues such as policing. Mr. Salaam cast the election as an opportunity for a generational shift in Harlem, which was once the center of Black political power in New York City but had ceded that title to Brooklyn.

During the race, Mr. Salaam spoke frequently about his conviction, exoneration and persecution by former President Donald J. Trump, who in 1989 took out full page ads in The New York Times and other papers calling for the death penalty in the Central Park jogger case. During debates or forums, Mr. Salaam often referenced his conviction and the nearly seven years he spent in prison.

In a recent interview, Mr. Salaam said his victory restored his “faith in believing that what happened to me was for this very moment.”

Issues in the district include a lack of affordable housing, the loss of Black residents and the saturation of drug treatment and social services facilities. One of the major issues during the election was the fate of a proposed affordable housing project on Lenox Avenue and West 145th Street.

Ms. Jordan initially opposed the project and rejected it because it was not affordable enough for Harlem residents. The developer instead opened a truck depot on the site. Mr. Salaam said he supports the development of housing at the intersection and will work with area residents to make sure the project meets their needs.

“The problem that we are experiencing in Harlem right now is that we are being pushed out,” Mr. Salaam said. “They’re saying that we’re leaving, but the truth of the matter is that we are being priced out and therefore we are being pushed out.”

Mr. Salaam received a warm reception while walking around Harlem recently with passers-by who wanted to shake his hand and take selfies with him, including Janice Marshall, a consultant and lifelong Harlem resident, even though she said Mr. Salaam was not her first choice.

“I’m happy because it’s justice for him and I’m happy for the new energy,” Ms. Marshall said. “I’ve heard of his story and I just wish him well.”


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