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Former City Councilwoman Melinda Katz defeated City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) in a spirited Democratic primary for Queens borough president Tuesday.
Katz, who has also served as a state Assembly member, City Councilwoman and deputy borough president, netted 44.5 percent of the vote to Vallone’s 33.7 percent, according to results from the Associated Press with 99 percent of the vote counted. She will go on to face Republican Tony Arcabascio in November’s general election to succeed Borough President Helen Marshall.
Katz entered her primary night party at The Flying Pig in Forest Hills surrounded by a bevy of Queens elected officials and her partner, Curtis Sliwa.
She told the crowd, ”We look forward to working as a team.”
Flanked by U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley, the head of the Queens Democratic Party, Katz said she was proud to have secured the party’s nod.
“It means you win,” she joked.
Katz also credited her campaign staff for the victory.
“We had a great team. We had hundreds of volunteers,” she said.
Katz will face Republican Tony Arcabascio in the general election two months from now.
“We are going to win in November,” she said.
At his primary night party in Long Island City, Vallone Jr. was introduced by his father, Peter Vallone, Sr., the former City Council speaker. Vallone Jr. told his supporters to “chin up.”
“We took on the whole world and we scared the hell out of them,” Vallone Jr. said.
The Astoria councilman said his opponents had to resort to distorting his political record.
“We kept a clean, honest campaign,” he said. “I’m so proud of everyone.”
“We started this campaign as an independent, honest voice for Queens,” Vallone Jr. said. “And we are not going to stop there. We are going to continue to fight.”
He said he called Katz and told her he would help her in any way he can.
Both candidates and their respective teams were scouring the borough as part of a get-out-the vote operation throughout the day.
Katz’s schedule indicated the importance of southeast Queens in the race.
She greeted voters at 7:30 a.m. in St. Albans before heading back up to Elmhurst at 10 a.m. and then her home turf of Forest Hills at noon.
By 3:30 p.m. she was back in southeast Queens for the rest of the day until her victory party began at 9 p.m.
Katz had been endorsed by several prominent figures in southeast Queens, including the Rev. Floyd Flake, who picked the mother of two over another prominent figure in the community, City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), before the lawmaker dropped out.
“I was going to vote for Comrie, but when he dropped out I decided to vote for Katz,” Community Board 12 member Celeste James said outside the polling place at the Campus Magnet complex in Cambria Heights.
Much of her base in central Queens also came out in support.
“She has experience and also a sense of community,” said Mohammad Billah.
Katz and Vallone were the last two competitors in what started as a crowded Democratic primary last year. In addition to Katz and Vallone, the field initially included state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-Jamaica), Director of Community Boards Barry Grodenchik, and longshot candidate Everly Brown.
Candidates gradually dropped out of the race, though Avella waited until mid-August to do so. Because the primary process was so far along by that point, his name still appeared on Tuesday’s ballot, where he captured 9.3 percent of the vote. Everly Brown drew 12.6 percent.
Political insiders speculated that if Avella had dropped out earlier, many of the votes he received would have likely gone to Vallone.
After Avella’s departure the campaign between Vallone and Katz immediately turned more negative, with the Vallone camp accusing Katz of being cozy with big developers and the Katz camp painting Vallone as a right-wing conservative.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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