City Councilmember Donovan Richards Jr. appears to have won Tuesday’s Democratic primary for Queens Borough President, according to preliminary results posted on the Board of Elections website.
With over 96% of scanners from poll sites reporting their counts, Richards (D-Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens) won the seat with 41,915 votes or 37.18% of the vote.
If he wins in the final tally, Richards will go on to run in the November election against Queens County Republican Chairwoman Joann Ariola. He is the presumptive winner in that election since the Democratic primary normally determines the winner of the general election. If elected, he will replace Interim Borough President Sharon Lee, who took over the office when her predecessor, Melinda Katz, became Queens district attorney.
“I’m encouraged by the results coming in for our campaign for Queens Borough President and I want to thank all of my supporters who came out yesterday to make their voices heard,” Richards said in an emailed statement. “While we want to ensure that every vote is counted, I’m looking forward to the race in November and ultimately serving all of our communities as Queens Borough President.”
Former Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley came in second with about 10,000 fewer votes giving her just over 28% of the vote.
“I want to thank the voters in Queens for coming out and participating in record numbers during what was an unusual pandemic election season,” Crowley said in an emailed statement. “As I remain patient and optimistic until every last vote is counted I know that no matter what the out come of this primary, I will continue to fight for the people of Queens.”
The other candidates, Councilmember Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside), former NYPD sergeant Anthony Miranda and businessman Dao Yin came in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.
“Ours was a progressive movement that fought for justice – environmental, racial and economic. I am so proud of the resolve, professionalism, and dedication of our staff, volunteers and supporters who all shared in that vision,” Constantinides said in an emailed statement. “We will likely not know the results of this race for another week, when the absentee ballots are counted. But tonight’s results show people are ready to Transform Queens.”
The BOE still needs to tally up the unprecedented amount of absentee ballots requested because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. An executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo temporarily loosened restrictions on who qualified for absentee ballots to make it possible for voters who feared contracting the virus at the polls to vote safely from home.
More than 175,000 people requested absentee ballots in Queens alone, according to a report published by the BOE on Tuesday afternoon. Absentee ballots had to be filled in postmarked by June 23 to be considered.
So far, the BOE has received more than 39,000 completed absentee ballots of the more than 175,000 sent out. The BOE won’t start counting absentee ballots until a week after the primary.
It’s unclear how many more ballots were postmarked by June 23 but haven’t arrived yet. The BOE said it will post another report on how many absentee ballots they’ve received on Friday.
The borough president seat opened up last year after the previous borough president, Melinda Katz, was elected Queens District Attorney. That primary race was close and opponent Tiffany Caban was originally announced as the winner until the ballots were recounted putting Katz in the lead. The winner of the election wasn’t finalized until six weeks after the election. In the end, Caban conceded to Katz who won by a slim margin. Katz then went on to win the general.
A special election for the borough president office was originally scheduled for March. But then the coronavirus pandemic took over the city and Gov. Cuomo first delayed the special election until June before finally canceling it.
How the uncounted absentee ballots will factor into Tuesday’s Queens Borough President primary election is yet to be determined.