Katz, Gennaro winners in Forest Hills contests

By Daniel Massey

Melinda Katz apparently won the Democratic primary for the seat held by Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and James Gennaro was headed to victory in the race to replace longtime Councilman Morton Povman (D-Forest Hills), based on preliminary results from New York 1.

The Board of Elections was expected to release official results late this week.

Katz, a former assemblywoman who is the director of community boards for Borough President Claire Shulman, was endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party. Gennaro, an environmental policy adviser to the City Council and an adjunct professor at Queens College, had to overcome the machine’s support for his opponent, Barry Grodenchik, the chief administrative officer for Shulman.

Gennaro was endorsed by former Mayor Ed Koch and environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

As expected, it appeared Katz, who outraised crisis management expert Lynn Schulman by five times in the District 29 race, won the primary to gain the upper hand in the battle for Koslowitz’s post, which encompasses Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Rego Park and parts of Maspeth. With 80 percent of the precincts reporting, NY1 indicated Katz had garnered 69 percent of the vote to Schulman’s 31 percent.

While Katz said she felt her lead was “comfortable,” she said she was not going to declare victory until final results came in from the Board of Elections.

“I’m just fortunate and happy that the district I represented [in the Assembly] found it in their hearts to vote for me again,” she said in an interview Tuesday night. “They’re awesome.”

In a tight race among three candidates who all have significant government experience, Gennaro seemed to have defeated Grodenchik and David Reich, legal counsel to state Sen. Seymour Lachman (D-Brooklyn), to capture the inside track to Povman’s District 24 seat. It covers northern Forest Hills, southern Flushing and parts of the Fresh Meadows area.

NY 1 reported Wednesday morning Gennaro was ahead with 41 percent of the vote to Grodenchik’s 36 percent and Reich’s 23 percent, with 92 percent of the precincts reporting.

If the numbers hold up, Katz will challenge Republican Renu Lobo, Conservative Norbert Chwat, Green Jeanette Evans, and the Independence Party’s Joseph Tiraco in the Nov. 6 general election while Gennaro will face Green Party candidate Lori Zett. Since Queens is a heavily Democratic borough, the Democratic candidates were expected to win.

Reach Reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.