Today’s news:

Recount begins in Dist. 30

The city's Elections Board began its recount Tuesday of the special election to replace former City Councilman Dennis Gallagher and paper ballots were scheduled to be counted Wednesday, but the winner of District 30's race may not be official until later this month, a spokeswoman for the board said.

As of Tuesday, Republican Anthony Como, an Elections Board commissioner and aide to state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), was in the lead with 2,352 votes, based on voting machine numbers, the spokeswoman said. He had an edge of just 70 votes in the four-way race.

The Elections Board officially started recounting all voting machines earlier this week and planned to begin counting more than 200 absentee ballots on Wednesday, she said.

The board will hold its next commissioners' meeting June 24, at which time the election will probably be certified, she said. The winner of the race will take office after the certification, she said.

Democrat Elizabeth Crowley, a cousin of U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) who ran against Gallagher in 2001, was trailing Como with 2,282 votes, she said. Republican Thomas Ognibene, a 2005 mayoral candidate and former City Council member, held third place with 2,031 votes, while Democratic civic leader Charles Ober received 752 votes, the spokeswoman said.

The Elections Board spokeswoman said the paper ballots would decide which candidate officially won the race.

"There are more than 200 paper ballots," she said. "That's what will push someone over the edge."

District 30 covers Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Glendale and slivers of Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Forest Hills.

The race followed Gallagher's April resignation as part of a deal that kept him out of prison after he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 52-year-old Middle Village woman at his district office in July 2007. The district has been without representation for nearly two months.

The winner of the election will hold the seat through the end of the year. A second election will be held in November to determine who will fill the seat in 2009 and a third election will take place in November of that year. The same winner of the next two elections may run for one more four-year term in 2011.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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