By Adam Kramer
Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and Public Advocate Mark Green garnered enough votes from Democrats on a day when voter turnout was low to force a runoff to determine who will face the GOP candidate media mogul Michael Bloomberg in the Nov. 6 mayoral elections.
In the hotly contested race for Queens borough president, City Councilwoman Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst) – the first black candidate to run for boroughwide office – appeared to have crushed former Board of Education President Carol Gresser and City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis), according to preliminary results reported by New York 1.
Marshall will face City Councilman Alfonso Stabile, a Republican from Ozone Park, in November.
In one of the borough's most contentious city council races, John Liu of Flushing had a slight edge over another Flushing resident, Ethel Chen, for City Councilwoman Julia Harrison's (D-Flushing) seat, according to preliminary figures provide by New York 1.
And in one of the biggest upsets Jamaica Estates resident Jim Gennaro appeared to have defeated the Queens Democratic machine's choice, Barry Grodenchik of Jamaica Estates, and David Reich of Flushing, based on New York 1's preliminary results.
In the race for Gracie Mansion neither Ferrer nor Green rolled up the required 40 percent of the vote in order to prevent a runoff. Queens' mayoral hopefuls, Comptroller Alan Hevesi of Forest Hills and Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria), trailed the two front- runners and did not muster enough votes to finish in the top two slots.
According to preliminary figures provided by New York 1, Ferrer got 36 percent of the vote, Green received 32 percent of the vote, Vallone grabbed 20 percent of the vote and Hevesi finished last with 12 percent of the vote.
They will face one another in a run-off Oct. 11.
Queens voters headed to the polls in the unprecedented election Tuesday to elect new city officials for the first time since the enactment of the term limits law, passed in 1993 and 1996 voter referendums. The law prevents an elected official from serving for more than two consecutive terms.
The original primary on Sept. 11 was canceled several hours after polls opened because of the terrorist attack on the Twin Tours.
Poll worker Al Cahn at PS 169 in Bay Terrace said the number of voters was slightly ahead of the Sept. 11 voting figures by 10 a.m.
“I'm concerned about people being apprehensive about the tragedy and also the inclement weather,” he said. “If it's light rain, we'll be OK. If it rains in a heavy fashion many people won't show.
“As usual the senior citizens are the ones who show up – rain or shine.”
Some observers estimated the turnout in Tuesday's election could mark a record low for the city with less than 15 percent of eligible voters participating in the primary, but final figures had not been compiled by press time.
Since the attack two weeks ago many New Yorkers have been impressed by how Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has led the city and have expressed a strong desire to have him remain mayor even though he has served the allowable two terms.
Giuliani threw a wrench into the primary Monday when he said he had not made a decision if he would be amenable to accepting an extension to his second term or whether he would try to seek a third term.
The Republican mayor cannot seek re-election under the current term limits law.
“I have had people come in and ask how to do a write-in for Giuliani,” said poll worker Joan Hartin at MS 67 on Marathon Parkway in Little Neck. She said three to four people asked about the write-in vote and what they needed to do.
In the race for borough president, Marshall ran away with the contest, capturing 51 percent of the vote, while Gresser received 34 percent of the vote and Leffler finished a distant third with 15 percent of the vote, according to the preliminary figures reported by New York 1 with 91 percent of the districts reporting.
In some of the more closely fought city council races, there were not many surprises except for the apparent Gennaro win.
In Council District 19 in northeast Queens, Tony Avella appeared to have won the Democratic primary for City Councilman Mike Abel's (R-Bayside) seat. He will face Republican Dennis Saffran in the Nov. 6 election.
In Council District 22, it looked as if Peter Vallone Jr. was poised to replace his father, who had served the Astoria district for 27 years, based on the New York 1 results.
In what might be considered the biggest upset in any of the borough's 14 council races, it appeared that Gennaro had defeated Grodenchik, the chief administration for Borough President Claire Shulman, and Reich, legal counsel for a Brooklyn state senator, in the race to replace City Councilman Morton Povman (D-Forest Hills). Gennaro is the environmental policy adviser to the City Council.
Times Ledger reporter Kathianne Boniello contributed to this story
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.