Melinda Katz wins borough president primary

Melinda Katz won the Democratic primary for Queens borough president.
THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Former legislator Melinda Katz won the Democratic primary for Queens borough president Tuesday, according to unofficial results.

Katz, who served on the Assembly and City Council, bested her former colleague, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., by nearly 12,000 votes, with 99 percent of precincts reporting as of late September 10, according to tallies.

Unofficial vote counts show Katz with 48,975 votes over Vallone’s 37,132.

“There was wonder and awe to how this was going to work,” said Katz, surrounded by friends and family members at her Forest Hills victory party. “No one had more wonder and awe as to how this was going to work than me.”

Many expected the race to be down to the wire, as internal polls had the two candidates neck and neck, sources said.

More than 10,000 votes went to State Senator Tony Avella, who was on the ballot but out of the race, according to unofficial tallies.

The seat opened up this year after it was held since 2001 by incumbent Helen Marshall.

Marshall, the borough’s first black president, is leaving due to term limits.

The lure of being the borough’s 19th president drew six big name Democrats at one point.

Announced hopefuls State Senator Jose Peralta, Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik and Councilmember Leroy Comrie had all dropped by July and endorsed Katz.

The field then whittled down to two on August 14 when Avella unexpectedly axed his campaign.

Katz, who is backed by the Queens Democratic Party, took shots at Vallone nearing the final weeks of the campaign, depicting him in mailers as conservative and “anti-equality, anti-choice, anti-woman.”

Vallone angrily shot back on his Facebook page, saying she lied about his positions.

When he conceded on primary night around 11 p.m., Vallone said he was proud of leading an honest campaign and putting up a good fight.

“We stood against everyone,” said Vallone, who is term-limited from the City Council. “We took on the world, and we scared the hell out of them.”

The Astoria lawmaker will finish up his tenure as chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee for the remainder of the year.

He was backed by multiple police unions and gained the last minute endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers, the New York Post and multiple local papers.

It was not enough to beat out Katz, who served as director of community boards for former Borough President Claire Schulman and as chair of the Land Use Committee in the City Council.

Katz vacated her Council seat in 2009 for an unsuccessful bid for City Comptroller.

She still faces a November general election against Republican Tony Arcabascio, a longshot candidate running in an overwhelmingly Democratic borough.

With additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen