Salaam’s opponents, New York Assembly members Al Taylor and Inez Dickens, have years of experience on the political scene in Harlem. Kristin Richardson Jordan, the incumbent and a democratic socialist, remains on the ballot, although she dropped out of the race in May.
Dickens, who was in second place behind Salaam by a considerable margin, conceded on Tuesday but pledged to “continue to fight for what my community needs.”
On June 27, 2023, he reflected on his journey as he declared victory in a speech to his supporters.
"Having to be kidnapped from my home as a 15-year-old child to be launched in the belly of the beast; I was gifted because I was able to see it for what it really was—a system that was trying to make me believe that I was my ancestors' wildest nightmare," Yusef Salaam said. "But I am my ancestors' wildest dream."
According to the NYC elections website, he must win over 50 percent of the first-choice vote to declare victory. If he falls under the 50 percent threshold, it will trigger “the ranked-choice voting process” which would eliminate the last-place candidate and use “the second choice of voters from the fallen candidate toward those still in the race.”
Salaam said that he was led to run for office because he understands how broken the criminal justice system is from first-hand experience.
"This campaign has been about those who have been forgotten," he said. "This campaign has been about our Harlem community, who has been pushed into the margins of life, and made them believe that they were supposed to be there."
In 1989, Salaam and four other teenage boys: Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise were found guilty of beating and raping a woman in Central Park. As a result of their conviction, each would serve between five and 12 years in prison before prosecutors reopened the case.
A confession and DNA evidence linked a murderer to the crime. In 2002, all five convictions were vacated, with the city of New York agreeing to pay the exonerated men a $41 million settlement. The 2019 Netflix miniseries When They See Us is based on the story of the Central Park Five and is directed by Ava DuVerany.