Dems hold on to Assembly seats in boro

By Rebecca Henely

Despite a reported anti-incumbent, anti-Democrat mood across the nation, all the seated Democrats won another term in the state Assembly races in western Queens this year, according to unofficial election results from NY1.

Assembly members Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth), Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood), Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven) and Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach) beat their Republican rivals Tuesday. Community activist Francisco Moya also stepped into the Elmhurst-Corona Assembly district seat and lawyer Aravella Simotas was unopposed on the Democratic ticket to fill the seat vacated by Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria).

Hevesi, who has been in the Assembly’s Forest Hills seat since 2005, squeaked ahead in a tight race with 54 percent of the vote, beating out law school graduate Alex Powietrzynski, who earned 40 percent of the vote and Independent Joseph Tiraco, who earned a little less than 6 percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. The young Republican had called for Hevesi to step down in light of the controversy surrounding Hevesi’s father Alan, who had once held Andrew’s Assembly seat and pleaded guilty recently to corruption in his role as state comptroller.

Andrew Hevesi pushed his record on environmental legislation and touted his support for reform in Albany. Powietrzynski focused on job creation, lowering taxes, Metropolitan Transportation Authority reform and crime reduction.

In a contentious race, Markey, an assemblywoman for Maspeth since 1998, won with 60 percent of the vote over Maspeth businessman and Community Board 5 member Tony Nunziato, with 89 percent of precincts reporting.

Nunziato had accused Markey of not being a presence in the community in the run-up to the election, and they had clashed at a news conference over a plan to reroute trucks in the community. In his campaign, Nunziato focused on job creation, capping government spending, cutting taxes, fiscal responsibility and school vouchers. Markey’s campaign had emphasized her record and working to improve quality of life and creating a viable commercial district.

In nearby Ridgewood, 26-year Nolan defeated actor and bartender John Kevin Wilson by a wide margin with 85 percent of the vote, with 92 percent of precincts reporting. Miller, who won his Woodhaven Assembly district seat in a special election in 2009, netted his first full term and defeated Republican Donna Marie Caltabiano, executive director of the Forest Park Senior Center, with 69 percent of the vote when 93 percent of the precincts were counted. In Rockaway Beach, Pheffer, who has been in office since 1987, beat opponent Dr. Harold Paez, an administrator at a Brooklyn hospital, with 68 percent of the vote in a race where 64 percent of precincts had reported.

In addition, Moya took the vacant 39th Assembly District seat, which covers Elmhurst, Corona and part of Jackson Heights. The seat had been left vacant after previous holder Jose Peralta won the East Elmhurst seat in a special election for the state Senate. Moya initially had a Republican opponent in community activist Humberto Suarezmotta, but he was thrown off the ballot for failing to hand in a cover sheet with his signatures.

Simotas, meanwhile, stepped into Gianaris’ 36th Assembly District seat, which includes Astoria, Long Island City, Ravenswood and Queensbridge, as Gianaris left to run for outgoing state Sen. George Onorato’s (D-Astoria) seat.

Assemblymen Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona) and Michael DenDekker (D-Jackson Heights), who had no opponents, also won another term this year.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.