ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — It may lack the drama and high-stakes of last year's presidential election, but New Yorkers are still making important decisions Tuesday in elections to pick mayors, prosecutors, county leaders and other local positions.
Voters in New York City will pick a new mayor. In Buffalo, a mayoral race between a moderate and self-described socialist has gained attention as the latest fight over how Democrats should best tackle the plight of the poor and working class.
Voters statewide will get to decide whether to tweak the state’s constitution to pave the way for election and environmental reforms favored by advocacy groups and the Democratic-led Legislature.
Here is a look at some top contests:
BUFFALO MAYOR RACE
Community activist India Walton is the only candidate on the ballot after her victory in the Democratic primary, but she is still facing a vigorous write-in challenge from incumbent Mayor Byron Brown.
Walton shocked the four-term mayor in the June Democratic primary. But Brown has refused to quit. Some polls have shown him favored in the general election, but it isn't clear whether enough supporters will write his name in on their ballots.
Walton would be Buffalo's first female mayor and the first to identify as a democratic socialist.
Brown would become the first person to win a major race as a write-in candidate in the state, and — if he gets a fifth term — Buffalo’s longest-serving mayor.
Results in the race might not be known right away. Tabulation of write-in votes won't start until several days after the election.
NYC MAYOR RACE
Former New York City police captain and Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams, a Democrat, is heavily favored over Republican Curtis Sliwa in Tuesday’s race to become the next mayor of the biggest U.S. city.
Adams, who would be the city’s second Black mayor, ran as a moderate in a crowded primary field.
Sliwa, founder of 1970s-era Guardian Angel anti-crime patrol, has called for hiring 3,000 more police officers and has tried to portray Adams as an out-of-touch elitist.
Adams has vowed to address public safety and inequality and make government more efficient.
VOTING AND REDISTRICTING
New Yorkers are voting on several proposed changes to the state constitution, including two that could make it easier to vote.
One proposed constitutional change would remove a requirement that people must register to vote at least 10 days before an election.
Another change would make it possible for the legislature to make mail-in voting permanent. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has allowed any voters fearful of the virus to vote by mail, but Democrats want to make that permanent.
Before the pandemic, you had to be sick or out of town to vote with an absentee ballot.
Another ballot measure would alter New York’s process of drawing the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts. Republicans and some election rights groups say the referendum gives Democratic supermajorities too much power.
New York could also join a handful of states that have passed constitutional amendments giving people the right to a clean environment.
A measure on the ballot would approve adding the “right to clean water, clean air, and a healthful environment” to New York’s state constitution.
Pennsylvania passed the nation's first such right in 1971.
Supporters say the amendment will require the government to consider environmental effects early on in policy-making and allow New Yorkers to sue when it fails to do so.
Republicans and the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York say New York will see a flood of costly lawsuits.
MANHATTAN DA’S RACE
Civil rights lawyer and former federal prosecutor Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, will become Manhattan's first Black district attorney if he wins Tuesday's contest with Republican attorney Thomas Kenniff.
Bragg is heavily favored in a part of the city where Democrats drastically outnumber Republicans.
The winner will succeed retiring District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and take on high-profile cases including the prosecution of former President Donald Trump’s company and its longtime finance chief on tax fraud charges.
Bragg has promised to improve transparency and trust and look to alternatives to prosecution for some low-level offenses.
Kenniff, a former prosecutor, says he’ll be a “more traditional” tough-on-crime prosecutor.
STATEN ISLAND BOROUGH PRESIDENT
Former U.S. Rep. Vito Fossella is trying to make a political comeback in a run for the partly ceremonial Office of Staten Island Borough President.
Fossella left Congress in 2009 following a 2008 drunken driving arrest and revelations he had fathered a child during an extramarital affair in Virginia. At the time, he was New York City's only Republican in Congress.
He received a key endorsement from former President Donald Trump, who remains popular in some parts of the Republican-leaning borough.
Fossella is competing against businessman Mark. S. Murphy, a Democrat, and Conservative Party candidate Leticia Remauro.
Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press