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Leading Candidates in Queens Council Races Secure Victories After Absentee Votes Tallied

Julie Won, Linda Lee, Felicia Singh and Lynn Schulman have all won their respective races (campaign photos)

July 7, 2021 By Allie Griffin

The leading candidates in Queens council races have secured victories after absentee ballots were counted Tuesday.

The NYC Board of Elections (BOE) released the most complete results Tuesday, with the majority of absentee ballots tallied and ranked choice voting tabulations applied.

Several races that were nail-biters on election night turned out to have clear winners after ranked choice voting went into effect and the absentee ballots were counted.

Races in Council Districts 23, 26, 29 and 32 were particularly close based on first-choice votes that were cast in person.

However, once the BOE published the preliminary ranked-choice results Friday night, voters got a clearer picture of the likely winners in each of the four races. Still those results didn’t include thousands of absentee ballots.

The presumed winners Friday held onto their leads after the latest results— with absentees included, were published Tuesday.

In District 23, Linda Lee came out ahead of runner-up Jaslin Kaur by nearly 700 votes after six rounds of ranked choice voting tabulations.

Lee, the president and CEO of Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York (KCS), earned 53.2 percent of the vote, compared to Kaur who generated 46.8 percent of the vote.

Lee and Kaur were neck-and-neck during several rounds of ranked choice voting. Kaur even surpassed Lee in round five, but ultimately lost when the third and fourth place candidates Steve Behar and Debra Markell were eliminated and their votes were redistributed.

Kaur conceded to Lee ahead of the latest results.

The D-23 seat represents the neighborhoods of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

Meanwhile, in the city’s most crowded council race, Julie Won widened the gap between herself and runner-up Amit Bagga for the District 26 seat once absentee votes were calculated.

Won and Bagga broke out from the rest of the 15-candidate field on the night of the election and were less than one percentage point apart, or 125 votes. The candidates both seek to represent Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Dutch Kills in the City Council.

Won pulled out ahead of Bagga after 15 rounds of ranked choice voting. Her 1,420-vote lead on Friday increased to a 1,613-vote margin with the inclusion of absentee ballots. She earned 56.7 percent of votes compared to Bagga who received 43.3 percent.

A few districts over, Lynn Schulman benefited from absentee ballots in the District 29 race to represent Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill.

Schulman’s lead over Aleda Gagarin increased from 1,581 votes on Friday to 2,407 votes on Tuesday, when absentee ballots were included in the count. She ultimately garnered 60 percent of the vote after eight rounds of ranked choice voting, while Gagarin earned 40 percent.

Gagarin also conceded to Schulman ahead of the absentee count.

Meanwhile in District 32, Felicia Singh slightly increased the margin between herself and second-place candidate, Michael Scala. After three rounds of ranked choice voting tabulations, she beat out Scala by 441 votes.

She led him by 405 before absentee ballots were included in the count. On election night, she was up by just 112 votes based on first choice votes.

Singh will continue on to face off Republican Joann Ariola in a November general election for the seat representing Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Rockaway Park, Roxbury, South Ozone Park, West Hamilton Beach and Woodhaven.

The D-32 seat, currently held by term-limited Council Member Eric Ulrich, is the borough’s lone Republican seat within in the City Council.

The presumed winners and the runners-up of less competitive races in Queens Democratic primaries are as follows.

District 19 (Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck, Malba, Whitestone): Tony Avella with 54.7 percent of votes after four rounds of RCV, ahead of Richard Lee with 45.3 percent of votes

District 20 (Downtown Flushing, Murray Hill, Queensboro Hill): Sandra Ung with 55.2 percent of votes after eight rounds of RCV, ahead of Ellen Young with 44.8 percent of votes

District 21 (East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Corona in Queens, including Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Lefrak City and LaGuardia Airport): incumbent Francisco Moya with 51.6 percent of votes outright, ahead of Ingrid Gomez with 18.2 percent of votes

District 22 (Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside): Tiffany Cabán with 62.6 percent of votes after three rounds of RCV, ahead of Evie Hantzopoulos with 37.4 percent of votes

District 24 (Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica): incumbent James Gennaro with 60.1 percent of votes outright, ahead of Moumita Ahmed with 22.5 percent of votes

District 25 (Elmhurst, Jackson Heights): Shekar Krishnan with 53.4 percent of votes after seven rounds of RCV, ahead of Yi Andy Chen with 46.6 percent of votes

District 27 (Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village, and Springfield Gardens): Nantasha Williams with 72.9 percent of votes after 13 rounds of RCV, ahead of James Johnson with 27.1 percent of votes

District 28 (Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, South Ozone Park): incumbent Adrienne Adams with 53.4 percent of votes outright, ahead of Japneet Singh with 24.1 percent of votes

District 30 (Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Woodside): incumbent Robert Holden with 54.6 percent of votes outright, ahead of Juan Ardila with 45 percent of votes

District 31 (Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens): incumbent Selvena Brooks-Powers with 67.4 percent of votes outright, ahead of Nancy Martinez with 19 percent of votes

District 34 (Ridgewood, Williamsburg, Bushwick): Jennifer Gutierrez with 79.5 percent of votes outright, ahead of Scott Murphy with 8.5 percent of votes

The presumed winners of the Republican primaries in Queens are below.

District 19: Vickie Paladino with 51.6 percent of votes outright, ahead of John-Alexander Sakelos with 47 percent of votes

District 23: James Reilly with 66.5 percent of votes outright, ahead of Alex Amoroso with 29.5 percent of votes

District 24: Timothy Rosen with 59.2 percent of votes outright, ahead of Angelo King with 36.2 percent of votes

District 32: Joann Ariola with 82 percent of votes outright, ahead of Stephen Sirgiovanni with 17 percent of votes

The BOE is expected to certify the official results of the primary elections sometimes next week, which will codify the official winners in each race.

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3 Comments

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Thank you, Denise Keehan-Smith

We owe Denise a huge thank you. There was a bad apple in the pack, hoping that being one of over a dozen wouldn’t draw attention to a completely dishonest campaign that pretended to be progressive but winked and nodded to the Republicans he tried to register as Democrats to vote for him. I’m speaking of course of Brent O’Leary. If it hadn’t been for Denise cannibalizing his base, this would have been a far closer race. So thank you, Denise Keehan-Smith, for helping elect a strong progressive leader for our community, even if that’s exactly the opposite of what you wanted! Your unbridled narcissism is our gain and what narrowly averted disaster for our district.

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Numbers guy

It’s not as close as you say because ranked choice weeds out these divisive candidates. Say you combine the two into two-headed nightmare candidate Brenise O’Learyhan-Smith, they don’t even win round 1 with 16.6%. It’s correct that there were way too many progressive candidates and that if you had combined the leading progressives into Jumiliathan S. Kim LaRaga to counter Brenise they would have won 60.3% of the first round. So no thank you Denise, but good riddance!

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