8 THE QUEENS COURIER • FEBRUARY 4, 2021 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
James Gennaro takes the lead
in District 24 special election
BY JACOB KAYE,
AND CLARISSA SOSIN
New York City’s fi rst test with rankedchoice
voting remains ongoing aft er polls
closed at 9 p.m. for Tuesday’s night special
election in Queens, but one candidate has
taken an early lead.
While the offi cial results of the City
Council District 24 special election —
the city’s fi rst election to feature rankedchoice
voting — likely won’t be known
for the next couple of weeks as the city’s
Board of Elections tallies the votes, James
Gennaro, who previously served as a City
Council representative for District 24
from 2002 to 2013, seems to be on the
path to victory.
Gennaro took an early lead Tuesday
night, securing nearly 60 percent of the
vote with 98 percent of scanners reported,
according to unoffi cial results from
the Board of Elections as of Wednesday
Other candidates for the non-partisan
special election to fi ll former Councilman
Rory Lancman’s seat include Moumita
Ahmed (15.6 percent of the vote), Michael
Brown (1.3 percent of the vote), Dr. Neeta
Jain (3.1 percent of the vote), Dilip Nath
(4.4 percent of the vote), Mujib Rahman
(2.2 percent of the vote), Deepti Sharma
(5 percent of the vote) and Soma Syed (8.5
percent of the vote).
“I feel humbled that the early returns
show that our campaign is likely to prevail
in this election,” Gennaro said in a statement
late Tuesday night. “I am grateful
to all the people who supported us, and
all our volunteers that gave so selfl essly
of their time and talents to get us to this
special moment. I thank my fellow candidates
for engaging in a substantive campaign
on the issues, and for being gracious
and collegial. I salute their commitment
to our community. I am of course
compelled to respect the process of the
counting of all the ballots. I eagerly await
those fi nal results.”
Lancman vacated the Council seat in
October when he took a job in Governor
Andrew Cuomo’s administration, leading
to Mayor Bill de Blasio calling for
Tuesday’s special election.
Ahmed, who received an endorsement
from Senator Bernie Sanders and a handful
of other progressive stalwarts, took to
Twitter to thank her supporters, though
she did not concede the race.
“We are a people-powered grassroots
campaign that has been speaking to voters
in District 24 all day about taking
power away from billionaires and instead
investing in everyday people in our community,”
Ahmed wrote. “We are incredibly
proud of the team we built & the energy
of our campaign.”
While some polling sites in the district
– which covers parts of Briarwood,
Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest,
Jamaica, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica Estates,
Kew Gardens Hills, Parkway Village and
Pomonok – reported seeing high voter
turnout, others saw a dismally low number
of ballots cast.
Th ough special elections typically
see a comparatively smaller number of
voters turnout, Tuesday’s election followed
a massive snowstorm and a spike
in COVID-19 infections throughout the
A handful of the candidates running
for the seat called on Mayor Bill de Blasio
to postpone the special election Monday
aft ernoon, as the nor’easter brought nearly
two feet of snow to some parts of
Queens. By Tuesday night, several candidates
stood by their plea.
“Th e mayor’s decision not to postpone
actively disenfranchised voters who are
not able-bodied and seniors,” said Aaron
Siegel, Nath’s campaign manager. “It’s a
shame because New York City is supposed
to be a haven for progress.”
Rahman also blamed the low voter
turnout on the mayor’s decision not to
postpone the election because of the snow
“My community failed to vote due to
the weather,” he told QNS.
Michael Brown, a real estate agent running
to represent the district, said he was
glad Election Day went on without postponement.
“I’m glad we got out the vote,” Brown
said. “Th e seat needs to be fi lled. Someone
has to do the work. Th e district needs representation.”
Siegel, who had originally predicted
around 10 percent of the district’s approximately
87,000 voters would cast a ballot
in the election, feared Tuesday night
that number might be closer to 5 percent,
including ballots cast early and by
Around 2,000 voters requested absentee
ballots from the city’s Board of Elections,
though only 600 had been returned by
Tuesday. Any ballot postmarked by at
least Feb. 2 will be counted if it arrives
to the board at some point in the next
Th e election’s early voting period,
which ran for nine days at the end of
January, saw a little more than 2,000 ballots
cast – with over half of them cast on
Sunday, Jan. 31.
Th e city’s fi rst test of ranked-choice voting
didn’t appear to be much of a hurdle
Tuesday, candidates and voters reported.
Th ough the new ballot system, which
sees voters rank their top fi ve choices, one
through fi ve, instead of choosing just one
candidate, didn’t go off without a hitch.
Voters were given pamphlets explaining
the new system, which was put in place
aft er receiving overwhelming support as
a ballot referendum in 2019. However, if
voters had questions Tuesday aft er they
began to fi ll out their ballots, poll workers
were unable to help.
Should Gennaro receive at least 50 percent
of fi rst-choice votes by the end of
the fi rst round of ballot counting, he will
be declared the winner. If no one tallies
enough votes to put them over the 50
percent threshold, the candidate with the
fewest votes will be eliminated. Ballots
that list the eliminated candidate as their
fi rst-choice will be awarded to the voter’s
second-choice. Th e process will continue
until a winner is declared.
Th e winner of the special election
will serve until the end of 2021 when
Lancman’s original term is set to end.
Voters will head back to the polls in June
for the primary elections and again in
November for the general election for the
same City Council seat.
Photo courtesy of Gennaro’s campaign
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