The RIRA Column

October 22, 2016

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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For the past few editions, we at the Roosevelt Island Residents Association have been challenging each and every one of you to heed the call to serve your local community and throw your hat in the ring for a spot on the Common Council. Many of you have heard the call and some have had questions about what will occur on the run-up to, and on the day of, the election. Since both the general election and the RIRA Common Council election are only a couple of weeks away, I thought it best to hear directly from the members running this year’s Common Council elections: Southtown representatives and Election Committee Co-Chairs Melissa Wade and Sharon Williams.

Every two years, RIRA wipes the slate clean and all who wish to be on the Common Council, as well as be elected vice president or president, have to run again. This wiping of the slate not only ensures that both old representatives and new candidates are on equal footing and have to vie for a limited number of positions, but also allows each incoming class of Council members to decide what initiatives they wish to focus on and what the legacy of their term will be.

I sincerely hope that each and every one of you strongly consider representing your building, your Island, and our community by nominating yourself or someone else for a position on the RIRA Common Council. Because a community is only as strong as those who positively engage and represent its interests.

And now I hand the column over to my colleagues Melissa Wade and Sharon Williams:

Elections and Election Day

Running a RIRA election is a labor of love! It takes many volunteers and there are many moving parts. It’s also exciting, especially for members like us with backgrounds in both partisan politics and the non-partisan elections process.

The RIRA Elections Committee is responsible for ensuring the proper execution of the Island-wide elections process.

We hold elections in conjunction with state, city, and national elections – on the same day, and often in the same locale – although there is no association between RIRA elections and the Board of Elections (BOE), and there are different rules on who may participate both as a candidate and as a voter.

Who Can Vote

In fact, there are only two requirements to participate in RIRA elections: age and residency. There are no citizenship requirements for RIRA, either to vote or to run as a candidate.

You must be 18 years of age to participate, and be a current Roosevelt Island resident. That’s it! Due to privacy policies in some buildings, you may be asked for proof of residency at the polls (we do not utilize voter registration rolls like the BOE). There is no length of residency required for regular RIRA delegates, but president and vice-president candidates must have been Island residents for one year.

Where to Vote

Elections are held in two places. Most Island residents will have the opportunity to vote for RIRA delegates and officers at PS/IS 217 on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 (Election Day). Octagon residents will vote in the lobby of their building (888 Main Street), because their location for federal, state, and city elections, Coler Hospital, is not open to RIRA elections.

For those who will be away on Election Day or are unable to physically get to the polls, absentee ballots for the RIRA election will be made available.

Meet the Candidates

We invite you to come meet your building’s candidates on Tuesday November 1 at 8:00 p.m. The following is a schedule of the RIRA districts and their Candidate Night locations:

Island House, Rivercross, Roosevelt Landings: 546 Main Street in the Senior Center.

Manhattan Park, Octagon, and Westview: 625 Main Street in the Westview Community Room.

Southtown buildings (buildings 405, 415, 425, 455, 465, 475 and 480 Main Street): 455 Main Street party room.

We also invite you to come meet the candidates for President and Vice President on Wednesday, November 2, at 8:00 p.m. at the Good Shepherd community center at 543 Main Street.

Please plan to attend!


As we mentioned earlier, a RIRA election is a labor of love. In addition to coming out to vote, volunteers are needed to help set up, oversee the process, and break down the election sites. Many of the volunteers in previous years were not Common Council members, they just wanted to be helpful and facilitate the democratic election process in their neighborhood!

If you are interested in participating in any way, or would like more information about RIRA elections, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Melissa Wade at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Sharon Williams at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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