Johnson campaign HQ: The wait begins


Early-morning voters line up at the Fashion Institute of Technology in the third city council district. Photo: Rachel Benai

Early-morning voters line up at the Fashion Institute of Technology in the third city council district. Photo: Rachel Benaim.

In a basement apartment fronted by a hand-made sign, the brain trust that runs the Corey Johnson for City Council campaigned has labored for months.

Today, when some 800,000 Democrats turn out to vote across the city, Johnson takes on civil-rights attorney Yetta Kurland in the Democratic primary; they face no Republican opposition.

An election map on the wall of the campaign office listed 35 polling locations scattered around the district, which covers Midtown West, including Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen.

Jeremy Hoffman, a volunteer who works for the United Federation of Teachers, which endorsed Johnson, said the campaign will deploy as many as 200 volunteers during the day to do everything from last-minute phone banking to campaigning at polling locations.

Although most work for only a short time, ”Some folks are true believers,” said Hoffman. “They believe in Corey and will take a whole day off work or something.”

The district is the home of mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn, who has held this city council seat since 1999. Though turnout in the city is expected to be low, Johnson’s campaign expects turnout in the district to be relatively high, Hoffman said, which he believes will benefit Johnson.

The small room vibrated with waves of volunteers bringing in reports from the polling locations and making jokes about sleep deprivation.

“I slept all right last night,” one volunteer said.

“Oh yeah?” came the response. “I’ve been up since 3:00.”

A report of trouble with lever-controlled voting machines came in. Use of the machines, which are considered an antiquated technology, has been a source of concern for some, but Hoffman said complaints were low in the morning.

”Frankly, there’s a level of comfort with the lever machines,” he said. “The electronic ones are complicated.”

The campaign identified PS 33, at 26th Street and Ninth Avenue, as a polling place with high turnout and sent the candidate to talk to voters during the morning rush, accompanied by his mother, who came in from Massachusetts to campaign for her son, and a number of volunteers.

“I think it’s an exciting day,” said Johnson’s mother, Ann Richardson. “I like to stay positive, so I think it’s very, very exciting.”

By 11:00 a.m., Johnson had moved on to another polling place, leaving Richardson to campaign along with Anne Hill, who is retired from advertising and has been working for Johnson since July.

”I have to say we’ve been pretty busy today,” Hill said, adding that the busiest was yet to come. “I think it’s busiest between 5:00 and 9:00… When people get home from work.”