By Connor Adams Sheets
Republican Eric Ulrich successfully defended his City Council seat from Democratic challenger Frank Gulluscio Tuesday night, winning 58.11 percent of the ballots cast, or 10,167 votes, while Democrat Frank Gulluscio got 41.89 percent, of, or 7,330 votes.
The race between Ulrich, 24, and Gulluscio, 60, pitted young against old, and new ideas vs. experience, in a district made up largely of people with deep roots in their neighborhoods.
Voters could choose to return a fresh voice of discord to the Council in Ulrich, who became only the third Republican in the entire Council Feb. 24 when he was voted into office in the special election to fill the spot Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) vacated after winning a state Senate seat in November 2008.
The young candidate from Ozone Park ran on the strength of his proven ability to “bring real results” to District 32 residents and to only make promises he could keep, he said repeatedly during the campaign. As he and his supporters canvassed District 32, which includes Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Hamilton Beach, Lindenwood, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, Broad Channel, Rockaway, Belle Harbor and Breezy Point, they highlighted his success in his seven months in office with graffiti removal and securing funding for local libraries.
Or they could go with Gulluscio, who has a lifetime worth of experience but has not served on the Council. He was taken off the Feb. 24 ballot after petition challenges and was running in his first standard Council race as was Ulrich.
Gulluscio, who won the Democratic primary, has served the district for more than 30 years in roles that include schoolteacher, activist, district leader and aide to Addabbo when he was a councilman.
His campaign, which focused on his lifetime of experience, was boosted by the backing of several key players of the area’s formidable Democratic political machine, which includes the powerful local Addabbo family dynasty, members of the Congress, the state Assembly and others.
Both men cited transportation, quality of life and public safety as the issues they considered most important and made a case that they would work to make government more open and accessible to their potential constituents, so the election came down to a referendum on party alliance and experience.
The election brought to the end a campaign that was fought hard on the ground with extensive canvassing and allegations of dishonesty hurled by both campaigns.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.