The only citywide race the party weighed in on is the race to replace Scott Stringer as city comptroller. In that contest they backed Assemblyman David Weprin.
That shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who follows politics in the borough. The Weprin family has been active in the Queens Democratic Party dating back to the 70s when Weprin’s father Saul was elected to the Assembly, where he would eventually become speaker.
In the race for City Council in District 19 in northeast Queens, the party is backing Austin Shafran over both former councilman and state senator Tony Avella and Richard Lee, who works in the Queens Borough President’s Office on budget issues, a role he also served in for then-councilman Leroy Comrie.
Avella has never been one to tow the party line, so losing out on the endorsement probably doesn’t make that much difference to him, but it could be just the boost Shafran needs. Shafran narrowly lost in the Democratic Primary to current councilman Paul Vallone, falling just 194 votes short.
“It is an honor to receive the endorsement and support of the Queens County Democratic Party,” Shafran said in a statement following the announcement. “Today we are taking another step as we continue to build the growing momentum behind our strong grassroots, community-driven campaign.”
Speaking of Vallone, with term limits forcing him out of office at the end of the year, the Democratic Party is helping him find meaningful employment, nominating him for a judgeship. If elected in November, he’ll join his brother Peter Vallone, Jr., who represented Astoria in the City Council for over a decade, on the bench.
In District 20 in Flushing, the party endorsed Sandra Ung. Ung has worked for several elected officials, including most recently Congresswoman Grace Meng, and is quickly establishing herself as a frontrunner in the race.
The party also endorsed incumbents Adrienne Adams and Francisco Moya, who currently represent southeast Queens and Jackson Heights, respectively, on the City Council.
In the race to replace Jimmy Van Bramer, the party backed political newcomer Ebony Young, who currently serves as executive director of the LIC YMCA. The race for the open seat has attracted nearly 20 interested candidates!
In District 29 in Forest Hills, where Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz is also facing term limits, the Democratic Party endorsed Lynn Schulman. That race has a much more “manageable” number of candidates at a mere 14.
Schulman is a longtime LGBTQ activist who has volunteered with a number of community organizations, including as vice chair of Community Board 6 for more than 20 years.
The party also endorsed Selvena Brooks-Power in District 31 in the Rockaways, the seat that was left open when Donovan Richards was elected borough president last year.
Brooks-Power might be an incumbent when the primary rolls around, as she is actually running for the same seat in a special election that is taking place this week. The party generally doesn’t endorse in special elections because they are, in theory, supposed to be nonpartisan, with candidates prohibited from running on established party lines.
That special election should be the first real test of ranked-choice voting, after James Gennaro “ruined” what was supposed to be the first test of the new system in his special election earlier this month. The former councilman spoiled everything by getting over 50 percent of the vote on the first tally. Thanks Jim!
Oh yeah, the party endorsed Gennaro, too.
And they weighed in on the borough president’s race, choosing to back Richards to remain in the post. Richards will be facing Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer in the primary. Van Bramer dropped out of last year’s race due to personal issues, but is back to try again.
Former councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley has also expressed her interest in running again. In last year’s primary, she finished 7 percentage points behind Richards, who is serving out the remainder of Melinda Katz’s term, which ends this year.
The endorsements did not come without controversy. District leaders were informed of the meeting at the last minute, and many did not realize there would be vote on the slate of candidates, which was put together by Congressman Gregory Meeks, the chair of the Queens County Democratic Party, and a small group of longtime party advisors.
District leaders were also required to vote on the entire slate at once. A motion was made to vote on each endorsement separately, but it was shot down.
So now we look forward to June and the hundreds of candidates looking to fill the entire gamut of citywide posts that will have openings. It’s going to get crowded.