Queens Election Round Up Feb. 19, 2021

A map of the borough of Queens.

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, we will be posting a brief rundown of new developments in the elections happening in Queens.

Election Day is coming up –– again. 

Voters in City Council District 31 head to the polls next Tuesday, Feb. 23, to cast ballots in a special election to fill the seat previously held by Borough President Donovan Richards.

Nine candidates are running in the race to fill the seat vacated by Richards after he was sworn in as borough president in December. Candidates on the ballot in Tuesday’s election are: Nancy J. Martinez, Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, LaToya R. Benjamin, Latanya Collins, Sherwyn A. James, Nicole S. Lee, Pesach Osina, Shawn Rux and Manuel Silva.

They’ve been keeping busy with virtual forums nearly every night in the final weeks of the race, including one earlier this week hosted by Queens County Politics and QNS

Early voting for this race, which began earlier this month, will end on Sunday, Feb. 21. To find your polling site, use the city’s poll site locator

There was a bit of a scuffle over County’s endorsement process this year. 

The Queens County Democratic Party released their list of endorsed candidates in the city’s special elections and for the primaries in June on Tuesday. 

The endorsement list was not without controversy however, after some alleged the party was not transparent enough in their process. Rather than allowing district leaders, who vote on the endorsements, to nominate their own candidates, leaders provided a slate of set names for the party to endorse.

Some have even accused the leadership, which includes party chair U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, of having brokered a backroom deal ahead of the vote.

In a statement following the vote, Anthony Miranda, a candidate for city council in District 20, likened the party’s endorsement vote to a dictatorship.

“The process was a total farce, and shameful,” Miranda said. “The District Leaders that represent the communities within each City Council District deserve to have their voices heard on who they would like to support.”

Though they did not endorse a candidate for mayor, the list of party endorsements include State Assemblymember David Weprin for City Comptroller; Queens Borough President Donovan Richards for Queens Borough President; Austin Shafran in City Council District 19; Sandra Ung in District 20; City Councilmember Francisco Moya in District 21; City Councilmember James F. Gennaro in District 24; Ebony Young in District 26; City Councilmember Adrienne Adams in District 28; Lynn Schulman in District 29 and Selvena N. Brooks-Powers in District 31.

They announced several endorsements for candidates seeking judgeships as well. City Councilmember Paul Vallone and attorneys Cassandra Johnson, Andrea Ogle and Michael Goldman were all endorsed for vacancies on the Civil Court in Queens.

Regardless of which office candidates hope to win, they won’t get very far without money to spend.

On Tuesday, the Campaign Finance Board (CFB) released a list of candidates receiving public matching funds in the latest round of payments. Candidates in Queens took home almost $3.7 million of taxpayer funds to help finance their races.

Across the borough, eight city council candidates hit their public matching limit for this round of funding and will be getting $160,444 added to their campaign accounts.

Though likely not nearly as effective as free public cash infusions, several candidates also picked up some less-controversial endorsements this week.

In the race for City Council District 24, City Councilmember James Gennaro won the endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), a powerful teachers union. Gennaro was elected to the seat in a special election earlier this month and was sworn in on Thursday to serve out the remainder of former City Councilmember Rory Lancman’s term. 

Jaslin Kaur, a candidate for City Council District 23 was endorsed by three progressive sitting Queens lawmakers. State Assemblymembers Zohran Mamdani and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, and State Senator Mike Gianaris backed her in her bid for the Council. 

In the race for borough president, incumbent Donovan Richards has been endorsed by the Communication Workers of America (CWA) District 1.

The John F. Kennedy Regular Democratic Club chimed in on the District 29 race, endorsing candidate Lynn Schulman.

AFL-CIO’s New York City Central Labor Council (NYC CLC) awarded a coveted endorsement to Councilmember Robert F. Holden, an incumbent running for reelection in District 30.

Finally, candidate in District 32 Felicia Singh was endorsed by Citizen Action of New York, a grassroots organization with eight regional chapters and over 30,000 members across New York State.

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