Borough president special election set for March 24
by Benjamin Fang
Jan 08, 2020 | 1349 views | 0 0 comments | 120 120 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The special election to fill the vacant Queens borough president seat finally has a date.

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared that the election will take place on Tuesday, March 24. A half-dozen candidates are vying for the role, which was vacated on January 1 following Melinda Katz’s victory to become the next Queens district attorney.

“I encourage all eligible Queens residents to vote in the upcoming special election,” de Blasio said in a statement, “and I thank outgoing Borough President Melinda Katz for her leadership and increasing the World’s Borough’s diversity and dynamism.”

As the race unfolds, candidates have already rolled out several endorsements, ranging from establishment groups to progressive insurgents.

On Friday, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams endorsed Jimmy Van Bramer, who is currently in his third term in the City Council representing Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City.

Williams, who won his own 16-way special election to become public advocate last year, credited Van Bramer for speaking out against stop-and-frisk, voting against the city’s borough-based jail plan and fighting for immigrant communities.

“Jimmy Van Bramer is a progressive champion who will fight for a Queens for all,” Williams said in a statement. “We don’t need more of the status quo, we need Jimmy, the people’s choice.”

Van Bramer previously received endorsements from law professor and former candidate for attorney general Zephyr Teachout, actress and former candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon, and trans activist Cecilia Gentili.

Van Bramer supported both Teachout and Nixon in their respective bids for office in 2018.

Councilman Costa Constantinides, another candidate for borough president, unveiled his first endorsements back in November. He has the backing of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 94 and UFCW Local 1500 representing supermarket workers.

After the mayor officially declared the date of the special election, Constantinides’s team collected over 2,700 signatures from registered Queens voters, his campaign announced, surpassing the 2,000 required to get on the ballot.

Three dozen volunteers carried petitions for the candidate over the weekend.

“Within an hour of the race being called, Team Costa sprang into action to get him on the ballot,” said campaign manager Patrick Jordan. “We only expect the excitement to grow in the coming week of petitioning.”

The Queens Democratic Party weighed in on the race last week to endorse Councilman Donovan Richards. Prior to the hastily called vote on the morning of December 30, the county organization was criticized by both Constantinides and Van Bramer for their process.

“Queens residents want a transparent process that engages residents, welcomes new ideas, and makes our borough stronger,” he said in December 28th tweet. “This could’ve been that opportunity to bring in those who want to be part of something larger. Sad that won’t appear to happen.”

Van Bramer said in a tweet that the endorsement was a “sham,” and called the Queens Democratic Party “the opposite of democratic.”

“I beat the county machine in my 2009 insurgent progressive campaign for Council and have proudly stood up against the machine since,” he wrote. “Queens needs an independent borough president, not another machine puppet.”

Richards shot back on Twitter at both candidates, calling it “funny” that they, “all of a sudden are progressive and want to rewrite the rules for the nomination process they engaged in without an issue forever.”

He also criticized Van Bramer for sending two letters of support for Amazon to come to Long Island City before eventually working to defeat the deal. He also pointed out that Van Bramer initially “supported Joe Crowley over AOC,” referring to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

At the Queens Democratic Party office last week, Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman also announced that she was dropping out of the race. She pledged to “stand with the party” and support Richards, whom the county organization endorsed.

“With all the infighting taking place within this democratic tent of ours, I want to be a positive voice, a calming voice, and a voice that says we have to stand together or we will tear our party apart,” Hyndman said in a statement. “Now let’s win this together.”
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