By Phil Corso
Paul Vallone emerged as the winner of a crowded and sometimes contentious Democratic primary in the race to replace outgoing City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone).
Vallone, the Queens Democratic Party’s pick for the northeast Queens 19th Council District seat, captured 31.1 percent of the vote around 11:30 p.m. with 99 percent of the vote counted, according to Associated Press. He beat out four others, including former spokesman for Empire State Development Austin Shafran with 29.5 percent, Flushing urban planning consultant Paul Graziano with 17.6 percent; former state Assemblyman John Duane with 11.5 percent and former Halloran chief-of-staff Chrissy Voskerichian with 10.3 percent.
Vallone was all smiles Tuesday night at his election party, held at Vivaldi’s in Bayside.
“We did it everybody. This is how we do it as a family. It was about family unity and a Democratic Party that stands together,” Vallone said. “It’s not over. This is a land that we know has Council members from the other party. As a unified Democratic Party, we are going to take back our Council seat everybody.”
He also said his campaign made a last-minute push at the end of the day when he heard it was really close with Shafran.
Vallone was the first to declare a run for the seat back in January and more candidates continued to throw their hats into the race as the months progressed. The Council campaign got much hotter in early April, when the incumbent Halloran was arrested and indicted on charges accusing him of using corruption and bribery to get Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) into the mayoral race as a Republican.
The ensuing months consisted of several heated public forums revolving around quality-of-life issues and restoring integrity to the district left bruised in the wake of the scandal.
His victory set up another battle in which Vallone will go up against Republican challenger Dennis Saffran from Douglaston for the 19th District seat in the general election Nov. 5.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.