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Campaign 2021: New Class Of City Council Candidates Poised To Better Reflect Diversity Of New York City

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The votes are still being counted in New York City's primary elections, but history is set to be made.

From women to people of color, candidates poised to win their elections would better reflect the diversity of the city, CBS2's Aundrea-Cline Thomas reported Thursday.

Sandra Ung greeted supporters in Flushing, Queens. She's among more than two dozen women who could make history by becoming the majority in the New York City Council.

"It was never a question of whether this is something I wanted. It was a matter of whether or not it's something I thought I could do," Ung said.

Ung is supported by the organization 21 in '21, which was co-founded by former council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The goal of getting 21 women elected to the council this year once seemed lofty.

"When I went into the City Council in 2006, there were 18 women out of 51, and by the time I left at the end of 2017, we had gone down to 11 women," Mark-Viverito said.

Now, the viable contenders represent a broader range of diversity in the city.

"We're going to see the first Muslim American woman in the City Council. We're going to see the first Black lesbian woman in the City Council. We're going to see an increase in the number of Asian American women in the City Council," said Mark-Viverito.

While the pandemic and protests spurred newcomers to get in the race, political observers said the city's matching funds program, which helps candidates finance their campaigns, made the biggest difference.

"That allowed a crop of working women and other people of color to bypass the political establishment and win," said Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

"What do you think this will mean in terms of policy?" Cline-Thomas asked.

"Politics as usual is coming to an end and we're going to see a City Council with a much stronger, progressive vision for the city," Awawdeh said.

Ung has a Republican challenger in the general election. If she wins, Ung said she'll be the district's first Asian American woman elected to the city council.

After the elections, 21 in '21 will provide training and mentorship to the new class of women in the City Council. Critics say the lack of experience after such turnover could be a liability.

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