Democrat Mike Miller Wins Special Election for Assembly Seat
By Conor Greene
When the dust settled following Tuesday’s Democratic Party primary elections around the city, three veteran City Council members who supported allowing a third term had been defeated, and another two were in serious jeopardy of losing races that remained too close to call as of Wednesday.
Among the incumbent City Council members who lost on Tuesday were Alan Gerson of Manhattan, Kendall Stewart of Brooklyn and Helen Sears of Jackson Heights, Queens. Maria Baez of the Bronx was trailing her contest as of Wednesday, while Thomas White, Jr. was leading by just six votes against political newcomer Lynn Nunes.
Locally, Karen Koslowitz was victorious in a six-person race for the Democratic nomination to succeed Melinda Katz representing Forest Hills and Rego Park in the 29th District. Koslowitz, who previously represented the area until term limits forced her from office in 2001, defeated runner up Lynn Schulman 25% to 22%. Rounding out the field was Heidi Harrison Chain (19%), Albert Cohen (13%), Michael Cohen (12%) and Mel Gagarin (6%). Koslowitz doesn’t face a Republican challenger in November.
In the 34th District, which covers parts of Ridgewood, incumbent Diana Reyna – who supported Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s push to allow for a third term - appears to have survived a stiff challenge from Maritza Davila, who she defeated 45% to 43%, according to unofficial results released by the city Board of Elections. Gerald Esposito received 11%, or 1,041 votes.
Following a heated campaign in the 26th District, which includes Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and parts of Maspeth, James Van Bramer, director of external affairs for Queens Library defeated City Council attorney Deirdre Feerick 45% to 37%. Long Island City attorney Brent O’Leary finished with 16% of the vote. Incumbent Eric Gioia decided to run for public advocate instead of seeking a third term.
However, things are still unclear in the 28th District, which covers parts of Jamaica, South Jamaica and Richmond Hill. Nunes, 24, is trailing by less than a percentage point against White – who supported extending term limits - as of Wednesday morning. Since absentee and military ballots still have to be counted, the race appears too close to call.
In the race for Borough President, incumbent Helen Marshall will serve a third term after easily defeating challenger Mark Leavitt, a Sunnyside attorney who wasn’t able to turn his strong fundraising effort during the campaign into a solid showing at the polls. Marshall finished with 52,258 votes, or 71%, compared with 12,294, or 16% for Leavitt.
Voters in some parts of Queens also took part in a special election to replace disgraced former state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, who pleaded guilty to accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. Glendale Democrat Mike Miller handily defeated Republican Donna Marie Caltabiano, who is director of the Forest Park Senior Center by a count of 65% to 35%.
That election was held after Governor David Paterson decided to hold a special election featuring candidates chosen by each party’s county leaders, instead of holding a general election that would have featured a bigger slate of candidates. At least two candidates who had petitioned to be on the ballot have already vowed to challenge Miller next year.
For the two hotly-contested citywide offices – public advocate and comptroller – a runoff election is scheduled for September 29 since none of the candidates reached 40% of the vote. In the public advocate race, Brooklyn Councilman Bill de Blasio, who received 32%, will face off against Mark Green, who formerly held the position and finished with 30%. In the comptroller’s race, Councilman John Liu of Flushing received 38% and will face Brooklyn Councilman David Yassky in the runoff election.
With the Democratic nominee officially secured, Thompson wasted little time kicking off his campaign against Bloomberg, who wasn’t involved in Tuesday’s primary election. Bloomberg agreed to participate in two debates, but Thompson wants him to agree to debate in each of the five boroughs.
“After eight years of the mayor who has looked out for the rich and powerful, isn’t it time we had a mayor who looked out for the rest of us?” Thompson told a crowd of supporters at his victory speech Tuesday night, reminding them that the city’s unemployment rate is at a 16-year high, despite promises by Bloomberg to create jobs. “It’s time for a change, New York! Eight years is enough!”
Even though he wasn’t running in a race on Tuesday, Bloomberg held a campaign kickoff rally on Manhattan’s West Side. Without mentioning Thompson by name, Bloomberg warned voters to avoid derailing progress he says the city has made under his leadership. “All of that could come to a screeching halt if we return to politics as usual,” he said.
And both candidates wasted little time in touting endorsements they have received from major political figures. On Wednesday morning, Bloomberg was campaigning outside a subway stop on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills with former mayor Ed Koch. Meanwhile, Gov. Paterson issued a press released indicating he plans on publicly endorsing Thompson at a press conference Friday.