Elisa Crespo Trailing Early on in Bronx Special Election Race

Elisa Crespo is joining the New Pride Agenda as the group’s executive director.
Donna Aceto

Out transgender City Council candidate Elisa Crespo is trailing three other candidates in the special election race to replace Ritchie Torres in the Bronx’s 15th City Council district, which encompasses Bedford Park, Fordham, Mount Hope, Bathgate, Belmont, East Tremont, West Farms, Van Nest, and Olinville.

To this point, Oswald Felix, a tenant lawyer, is leading with 28 percent of vote during the first round of ranked-choice voting, while Ischia J. Bravo has received 21 percent, John E. Sanchez has 20 percent, and Crespo sits in fourth place with 15 percent of the vote, which is based on unofficial results released by the New York City Board of Elections. Turnout was low, with just 3,431 votes counted on election night — though it is not clear how many absentee ballots are pending.

Under the ranked-choice voting system, voters casting ballots in races with multiple candidates can list up to five of their favorite options instead of just listing one. The candidate receiving more than 50 percent wins the election. However, if no candidate garners a majority of the vote, the last-place candidate is removed and their votes are given to the voter’s second choice. These voting rounds are repeated until a candidate wins a majority.

On the afternoon of March 24, Crespo released a statement reflecting on the campaign and urging voters to wait for results to be finalized.

“Our campaign has continued to defy expectations and we’ve made historic accomplishments in the Bronx,” Crespo noted. “I’m incredibly proud of the movement we have built and the work my team and our volunteers have put in. So many of you believe in our vision and message and it continues to humble me. This race has been physically and emotionally taxing on me, but knowing that it’s so much bigger than me is what has kept me going.”

She added, “I hope that someone out there sees themselves reflected in this campaign and understands that their story and struggles matter. I’ve made my home in this community and I will continue to work tirelessly for this community win or lose. While we wait for the ranked choice voting process to unfold, I want to congratulate my colleagues in the race, and want our voters to understand it will take a few weeks to determine the final results. As we enter ranking, I’m confident that the voice of the electorate will be represented.”

Crespo, vying to become the first out trans lawmaker in New York State history, is competing against a whopping nine other candidates hoping to replace Torres, who was elected last year as the nation’s first out gay Afro-Latinx Congressmember.

Crespo currently serves as the education liaison in the office of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., where she’s overseeing efforts to provide accommodations and services to students with disabilities.

Last year, in an interview with Gay City News, Crespo spoke about placing pressure on state lawmakers to decriminalize sex work, advocating for income equality, bringing more jobs to the borough, and reducing the budget of the NYPD.  She said she does not want to live in a community that always seems to be the “last in everything.”

“I couldn’t sit idly by and not do anything about it,” she said.

Since announcing her campaign, Crespo has been a target of harassment because she previously engaged in sex work, and that sentiment followed her to the polls. On election day, Crespo posted photos of flyers on Twitter slamming her as an “ex-prostitute” who was “busted in a police sting.” The remarks came months after a widely-criticized New York Post story that used derogatory language and sensationalized her past experience engaging in sex work.

“Good morning to the faceless coward,” Crespo tweeted on March 23, the morning of the election. “This is what happens when people feel threatened. This type of politics is reprehensible and contributes to violence against trans people. These people believe our stories and identity don’t matter. The Bronx deserves better.

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