Queens City & State Elections 2013
Melinda Katz Wins Boro Presidency
Bill de Blasio Becomes Mayor Elect
November 6, 2013 / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Queens Politics / Queens Buzz. Democrat Melinda Katz handily won the Queens Borough Presidency with about 80% of the vote, defeating Republican Tony Arcabascio with less than 18% of the vote and Independent Everly Brown who won about 2% of the vote.
Katz's victory was expected given that the borough is comprised of about 80% Democrats and less than 20% Republicans.
In Queens City Council races Democrat Costa Constantinides won 66% of the vote defeating Green Party candidate Lynn Serpe (15%) and Republican Daniel Paterson (11%). He will replace Peter Vallone as Astoria's City Councilmember. Paul Vallone won in a very tight race. Mark S. Weprin, Daneek Miller, Rory Lancman and Elizabeth Crowley won handily. And the race between Republican incumbent Eric Ulrich and Democrat Lew Simon was very close and possibly contestable.
Bill de Blasio's victory was also expected, as the polls had shown him leading Republican Lhota by a wide margin. It's worth noting that there hasn't been a Democratic NYC Mayor since Guiliani won the position in 1994, some 20 years ago.
Some pundits believe that this election was a referendum on the Bloomberg Administration. Bill de Blasio's campaign theme of the 'Tale of Two Cities' - meaning the wealthy and everyone else - appears to have struck a resonant chord with NYC voters.
We wish both de Blasio and Katz the best in the coming years and hope they will govern wisely.
Click here for prior Queens Buzz election coverage and politics in Queens.
Queens Primary Election Results
Katz Wins Boro Prez / de Blasio Doesn't Face Runoff
Election Night / September 11, 2013 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics / Queens Buzz. Melinda Katz received nearly 45% of the vote in the race for Queens Borough President. Peter Vallone was the runner up with nearly 34%. Everly Brown captured nearly 13% and Tony Avella whose name was on the ballot, but had dropped out of the race, won 9% of the vote. Katz will go onto face Republican Tony Arcabascio in November.
In the photo to your right, Republican candidate Tony Arcabascio speaks as Peter Vallone, Melinda Katz and Everly Brown listen at the Queens Borough President Forum held at Flushing Town Hall on August 26th.
Bill de Blasio was the winner of the Mayoral primary, but at press time it initially remained unclear whether he won over 40% of the vote which would preclude any runoff against Thompson who was the runner up with 26% of the vote. Some paper ballots remained to be counted which could have swayed the tally. Christine Quinn, once the front runner, won only 16% of the vote and Queens' John Liu came in fourth place with 7% and Anthony Weiner netted 5%. On the Republican side Joe Lhota won 53% of the vote, beating out billionaire John Catsimatidis who netted 43%.
As for Queens City Council races, many incumbent candidates went uncontested in the primaries. Paul Vallone appears to have won with 31% of the vote in the 19th District but there could be a runoff. Costa Constatinides handily won the 22nd District [currently Peter Vallone's District] with 56% of the vote. Rory Lancman won the 24th District with 62% of the vote. Ruben Willis won the 28th District with 49% of the vote. Donovan Richards won the 31st District with 52% of the vote. Lew Simon won the 32nd District with 65% of the vote. And Antonio Reynoso won the 34th District with 49% of the vote beating out Vito Lopez. And Daneek Miller is ahead with 24% of the vote in the 27th District.
The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 5th.
The 'Machine' is Back
Party Controlled Board of Elections Opts For Old Voting Machines To Process The Votes 'More Quickly & Accurately In The Primaries Only'
September 10, 2013 / Queens News & Opinion / Queens Buzz. You can imagine my surprise this morning when I arrived to do my civic duty and vote for the candidates of my choice.
I saw the old voting machines and asked what had happened to the newer scanner voting machines we'd used in the general election only a year ago. The people facilitating the voting process didn't seem to know the answer to that question.
So I went online and found that the New York Times had posted a story on Sunday, explaining that the Board of Elections had decided to use the older machines for the primaries, while promisingthe newer machines would be ready for the general election.
The NYT had been told by the Board of Elections that the older machines would enable them to report the results more quickly and accurately than the new machines, so that if there were any runoff, they could turn things around in time.
Pardon me, while I try to process the logic of this turn of events. A year ago the City of New York spent $95 million dollars to install a new voting technology / process, that was good enough to be used for the general election last year and that is good enough to be used for the general election this year.
But - help me make sense of this - then the Board of Elections goes on to tell us that the newer voting technology isn't good enough to be used in the primaries - where at least 80% of the races are decided.
I think it's also worth noting that the Board of Elections is controlled by the two major parties [Democrats & Republicans]. Mayor Bloomberg blasted the Board in his radio talk show. Hmm, wonder why. Story & photo by Michael Wood.
NYC Mayoral Candidates Forum
Record Homeless In NYC Shelters & NYC Developers
April 15, 2013 / Queens Government / Queens Buzz / by Michael Wood. I attended a Mayoral Forum last week at NYU in Manhattan where the six Mayoral candidates answered questions posed by Brian Lehrer of WNYC. The event was hosted by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy and the topic for discussion was real estate development, housing and urban policy.
One of the things I learned was that NYC has record numbers living in its homeless shelters and that over 20,000 school age children are now living in homeless shelters. This topic came up time and again and all of the candidates said that the current administration was clearly not doing enough to address the problem.
The candidates also talked about all of the new development projects going on in NYC. Many of the candidates said the Administration was not negotiating hard enough to obtain more concessions / better deals from NYC developers who have profited greatly by virtue of help and incentives given by the city.
We'll have more on these issues at a later date. Story & photo by Michael Wood.
CB Votes Split On USTA Expansion Plan
March 14, 2013 / Flushing Corona / Issues Facing Queens / Queens Buzz. The USTA has asked the city of New York to give it .68 of an acre of Flushing Meadows Corona Park so that it can proceed with an expansion plan. The expansion plan is estimated to increase the sports complex capacity for the U.S. Open by about a third, while increasing the USTA footprint in the park by .68 of an acre. The USTA informed the audience attending the Community Board 3 meeting that this will result in more jobs in Queens. They also talked about the positive estimated annual $784 million economic impact that the USTA has had on NYC - according to a study done by a private consulting firm named AKRF, Inc.
The detractors informed the audience that this is the first step in a much larger effort toward a massive privatization of Flushing Meadows Corona Park by several large, well-funded corporate interests. The opponents talked about three other proposals which were not a part of the USTA plan. These other proposals to develop private interests on public parkland include the development of a shopping mall by a private investment group in tandem with the owners of CitiField; 2) a condominium / hotel complex done by another group of private investors; and 3) a 13 acre soccer stadium by Major League Soccer, which is also a privately held corporation.
Community Board Tally & Boro Prez Candidates Positions
In the end Community Board 3 voted against the expansion plan, citing among other things, promises not kept when the USTA asked to expand its footpint in 1993. All six Community Boards have now voted on the USTA Expansion proposal, with three voting for it and three voting against it. We'll post a far more complete report on this Community Board Meeting at a later date.
While I was attending the Community Board 3 Meeting in Corona, all six Queens Borough Presidential candidates were attending a forum about the issues facing Queens at the Greater Astoria Historical Society in Astoria. The issue of turning over public parkland to private interests came up during the forum. To date only City Councilmember Tony Avella has come out against giving up public parkland to private interests. NY Senator Jose Peralta is the only other candidate to take a stance on the issue, but only on one of the proposed developments, namely the erection of the MLS Soccer Stadium on 13 acres of FMC Parkland [which he conditionally supports if MLS fulfills all of their promises]. All four other candidates have taken a wait-and-see stance on the issue.
Click here to read our past reports related to the proposed development plans for Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The first report provides an early history of Flushing Meadows Corona Park I and the second report provided an intermediate history of Flushing Meadows Corona Park II which included a number of relevant historic lessons related to sports complex developments in FMCP as well as NYC.
Legislative Agendas For Western Queens
March 9, 2013 / Long Island City / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. I attended a Legislative breakfast hosted by the Long Island City Partnership on Friday. NYS Senator Michael Gianaris and NYC Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer were on hand to talk about what is going on legislatively in Albany and downtown at city hall.
EDUCATION & QUEENS SCHOOLS. Education and school closings were discussed with both government officials opposing the approach being taken by the Mayor to close Queens high schools. It was noted that Senator Gianaris graduated from LIC H.S. and then went onto graduate from Harvard, that Assemblywoman Nolan graduated from Ridgewood H.S. and went onto graduate from NYU and that NYC Councilmember Van Bramer graduated from Bryant H.S. and went onto graduate from St. John's College. All three of these high schools were on the chopping block in Spring of 2012 [click here for our Spring 2012 report on Queens high school closings].
School construction was also discussed. Currently the facilities at many Queens schools are at, near or even over capacity. Hence school construction is something these government officials believe is important going forward, given the growth of the borough.
HIGH TECH JOBS / TAX BREAKS. They talked about the pending development of a high tech college campus on Roosevelt Island in the coming decade. They saw this as a potential source of good jobs in the area, given Queens proximity to the campus and talked about the possibility of using tax breaks to incent start ups to stay in NYC. They cited the TV Film Industry Tax breaks given several years ago as being good for the TV film industry in Queens.
POWER INDUSTRY IN QUEENS. They also talked about the power industry in Queens. Queens is the source of 60% of all of NYC's power generation. The old Poletti Power Plant is in the process of being de-constructed, and the newer power plants have been able to continue to provide power without disruption.
PARKING IN LIC. Lastly, but not least, Michele Beaudoin of BRG Realty in LIC inquired about future plans for managing the parking situation in LIC. Unbeknownst to most folks, LIC remain the only neighborhood that does not have alternative side parking regulations, which are used to eliminate 'car storage' on city streets, while simultaneously enabling street cleaning. LIC is also the only neighborhood in NYC that does not receive street cleaning services.
We were told that the Department of Transporation is not interested in building any new city parking lots. And that the LIC community is deeply divided on this issue, but that something must be done, as the parking congestion in LIC continues to grow.
Click here to read other brief reports containing LIC News.
Astoria Park Performance Space
Draft Plans Shown – Public Comment Sought
February 21, 2013 / Astoria News / Astoria Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. I attended the Community Board 1 meeting on Wednesday night where the Parks Department unveiled their draft plans for the new performance space in Astoria Park. The presentation included a brief history of the Astoria Pool Diving area where the new performance space will be installed, as well as draft details of what is planned.
City Councilmember Peter Vallone was credited with securing $4.5 million in NYC funds for the project, which he described as a beginning. There were a number of Astoria and Queens arts groups present at the meeting and they made comments following the presentation. We’ll post more about the Astoria Park Performance space later.
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