By Rich Bockmann
State Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) pulled in more than 63 percent of the vote last week in her Democratic primary victory over Cambria Heights resident Clyde Vanel, according to the city’s preliminary results.
Clark, a 13-term incumbent, captured 2,988 votes to Vanel’s 1,725, the unofficial results compiled by the city Board of Elections indicated.
As she waited for the votes to be tallied last Thursday night at Thomasina Catering Hall in St. Albans, Clark said she believed she had earned a 14th term based on her track record serving the district.
”I thought it would give me an edge,” she said.
With humility, she added she thought she deserved her reputation as an institution in the community.
“I feel very confident that I’ve earned it,” she said.
Vanel, a lawyer and former restaurateur, had run on a platform focused on creating jobs by cutting bureaucratic red tape for businesses and had criticized Clark for not doing enough to revitalize the economy.
Clark, however, said turning the economy around was easier said than done.
“You can’t sell people on job creation just like that. That’s not how it happens,” she said. “It’s not that simple.”
Vanel had put his money where his mouth was during the campaign, financing his election bid with loans and taking out a four-year lease on his Cambria Heights campaign office. During the campaign he said he would use the office as a community center and continue to do so after the election.
Clark, who was first elected to the 33rd Assembly District in 1986, appeared to benefit from the name recognition that comes along with having represented an area for so long that one becomes an institution. Her district, which includes all or parts of the neighborhoods of Bellerose, Queens Village, Cambria Heights, Hollis and St. Albans, remained largely intact after redistricting earlier this year.
The real battle ground appeared to be in Cambria Heights, with PS/MS 147 and Andrew Jackson High School on either side of Springfield Boulevard along 116th Avenue.
By 2:30 p.m., the two schools had a combined total of about 400 votes. Both candidates explained that the two schools had to accommodate more election districts this year because PS 176 on 235th Street in Cambria Heights was closed to voters due to inadequate wheelchair accessibility.
At Andrew Jackson HS, Clark called the voter-confusion situation “totally chaotic” and perhaps looking ahead, said it did not bode well for the general election in November.
Over at PS/MS 147, Vanel refuted the idea that voter confusion favored his opponent.
“It favors no one,” he said. “It’s not good for me, it’s not good for her and it’s not good for the process. It’s not good for anyone.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.