By Tom Momberg
Eastern Queens voters have ultimately chosen Democrat Barry Grodenchik to be their next City Council representative following long and competitive primary and general election races in this off-year contest.
With about 99 percent of the poll stations reporting in the district, Grodenchik had 55 percent of the vote with 5,898. GOP candidate Joe Concannon got 38.1 percent of the vote with 4,080 — more than he did the last time he ran for the seat. And Working Families Party candidate Rebecca Lynch got 6.9 percent with 742 votes.
The district runs from Bayside Hills, Oakland Gardens and parts of Queens Village, east to the county line.
Grodenchik will be stepping up in the next few weeks to replace Mark Weprin, who resigned in May when he was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be his legislative liaison between his office, the state Assembly and the City Council. Grodenchik will resume Weprin’s four-year term, which ends in 2017.
Between Weprin and his brother, now state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows), they controlled the City Council seat for 14 years. Now, their immediate successor, Grodenchik, whom Mark Weprin had endorsed, said he will immediately back up constituent services for Council District 23 as he looks to open a new district office.
Grodenchik, who defeated five opponents in the September Democratic primary, has had the support of the county Democratic political machine throughout the election process.
What it came down to in the general election, as both Grodenchik and his GOP opponent Joe Concannon alluded to, was whose campaign was able to pull the greatest number of voters out to the polls. That ended up being, by a pretty significant margin, Grodenchik.
Because she filed petitions to run on both Democratic and Working Families Party lines, former mayoral aide to Bill de Blasio, Lynch was still on the general election ballot after losing in the primary. But she did not secure a significant enough number of votes to throw the election in the GOP’s favor.
“To be clear, I haven’t campaigned since the primary–very much looking forward to congratulating the winner tonight,” Lynch tweeted on Election Day.
Historically, turnout for Council District 23 elections has been much higher, but this was an off-year election.
The Democratic primary turnout for the seat in 2009 was just under 8,500. The primary this past September brought out just over 7,000 voters.
About 24,700 votes were cast for the Council seat in the 2009 general election, and about 20,000 in 2013 — both of which were held at the same time as a city mayoral election.
Grodenchik, also a former state assemblyman who represented Flushing, has not made a list full of unrealistic campaign promises, but instead said as he moves into City Council, he will focus on what he sees as the greatest needs facing eastern Queens: education, parks, transportation and constituent services.
Concannon launched his bid for the City Council seat shortly after Mark Weprin resigned and has aggressively campaigned on the premise that the City Council and de Blasio’s administration have been running city in the wrong direction — criticizing policy changes such as the NYPD’s use of force tactics and the creation of a bail fund for non-violent offenders.
Concannon, an Air Force veteran, retired NYPD captain and digital security entrepreneur, also ran against Mark Weprin in 2013 for the same Council seat. He secured just under 3,200 votes, which against Weprin’s 16,800 votes was a greater marginal loss than in this election.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb