Barnwell, a 30-year-old lawyer from Woodside, shocked political observers when he crushed longtime Assemblywoman Marge Markey in the Democratic Primary back in September. He took home 63 percent of the vote in that race, drawing major support in Maspeth and Middle Village.
A defining issue for the race was the proposed homeless shelter in Maspeth, which brought local activists into the fold. The nightly protests targeted not just Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks, but local elected officials, who protesters denounced for not doing enough to support their efforts.
One of the incumbents protesters went after was Markey, who had represented the 30th Assembly District since 1998. In the primary, the political veteran lost to the newcomer, Barnwell, by a whopping 778-275 margin in those two neighborhoods.
Barnwell, a former aide to Councilman Costa Constantinides, campaigned on being a fresh voice and engaged representative. He emphasized that he would fight for the middle class, which he said was getting “crushed,” by lowering taxes and increasing the minimum wage.
One of his top priorities will be ethics reform in Albany, including ending pensions for convicted felons, reforming campaign finance laws and taking away the LLC loophole.
Barnwell completed his quest Tuesday by beating Nunziato, a neighborhood florist and a leading shelter protester. Nunziato ran for the Assembly seat in 2010 and 2012, but lost to Markey both times.
During the general election campaign, Barnwell argued that his background in law gave him a leg up over Nunziato. Nunziato, who was also born in Woodside, countered that his resume and tenure as a civic leader in Maspeth gave him the advantage.
In the end, it was Barnwell who came away with the victory in the tightly contested race. He will now head to Albany with the task of being an agent of change in state government.