By Mark Hallum
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) scored another victory at the polls and is now headed into the general election facing at least one opponent in a district where he claims to have brought a record $65 million in funding and gained support as an advocate of education and seniors.
Vallone faced an old adversary Tuesday in land-use consultant and Flushing resident Paul Graziano, who set the tone of the election season by launching a lawsuit against the incumbent to challenge the legality of his petition signatures. With 100 percent of the unofficial vote counted, Vallone had 54.3 percent and Graziano drew 45.7 percent in District 19, according to WNYC.org.
“This was the largest margin of victory we’ve ever had, so we’re really excited. It really shows a unified district,” Vallone said. “It’s going to be an exciting general election. … We’ve got support even on the Republican side, so we’re expecting a larger turnout.”
Although the allegations were later dropped, Graziano held Vallone’s feet to the fire for the remainder of the election regarding the charges in the criminal complaint.
Vallone started his career in the City Council with a five-way Democratic primary in 2013 – which included Graziano among his opponents – after then-Councilman Dan Halloran decided against running for re-election due to being brought up on corruption charges, for which he is still serving a 10-year sentence.
Vallone describes his time prior to taking office as a stark, chaotic time for his constituents who had no representation in city government.
“We started off a district divided — no funding, no support, no legislation, no elected officials,” Vallone said in an August interview. “We had a Council member in jail, we had a district that was left to fend for itself. You had communities that really had to survive with the strength of their own civic groups.”
Vallone has campaigned on the desire to build on his current four-year record of improving education and funding programs for seniors in northeast Queens, such as state-of-the-art facilities in high schools which give students an edge developing skills, and transportation options for the elderly as an alternative to Access-a-Ride.
Graziano will be on the Reform Party ballot in the general election.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall