By TimesLedger Staff
Voters went to the polls in Queens on a sunny Tuesday to cast their ballots for candidates in seven City Council primary races, the mayorship and the public advocate post.
A spot check by TimesLedger reporters showed low turnout by midday. The polls opened at 6 a.m. and will close at 9 p.m.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials have been urging registered voters to get out to the polls amid concerns that a weak showing at the ballot box could produce some unwanted surprises when the votes are counted.
These are reports filed by the TimesLedger reporters as they checked out some Queens polling places.
LeFrak City voters confused after polling sites moved elsewhere
More than 6,000 LeFrak City voters were forced to use new polling sites Tuesday outside of the complex for the first time in decades after the city Board of Election declared a community space was not compliant with federal accessibility guidlines. Tenant groups filed a lawsuit claiming voter suppression.
Last week, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Andrea Masley ruled that it was too late to move the polling site back to the Continental Room where LeFrak voters have cast their ballots for more than 50 years.
“We’re hoping we get the Continental Room back in time for the general election because there are just too many problems,” LeFrak City Tenants League President Jim Galloway said. “It’s a real mess. I thought the polling places would be larger. They’ve been busy here and at PS 13 where I voted. When people get home from work, this place will by jammed.”
By 3:30 p.m. nearly 370 people had voted at the High School for Arts and Business, anout three-quarter of a mile east of Lefrak City.
“A lot of these folks didn’t even know the site had been moved,” Galloway said. “I was able to guide many seniors including one 92-year-old to LeFrak shuttle vans to get them over here. Thank heavens for the shuttle buses, because three-quarters of a mile is way to long a walk for many of these folks.”
— Reporter Bill Parry
Voters in Bayside uninspired by the Democratic primary
Poll workers had time on their hands at PS 41 in Bayside as voters meandered in periodically with the emptiness of the school’s common area filled by the clamber of students on lunch hour.
Only about 40 residents had turned-out between when the polling site opened at 5 a.m. and 11 a.m.
“It’s very, very, very slow today,” site coordinator, Don Galliano, said. “De Blasio doesn’t offer much out here [in northeast Queens] and Sal Albanese – nobody knows who he is.”
Voter turnout in the 19th Council District where Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) is running for re-election against land-use consultant Paul Graziano was only projected to be at about 8,000 to 9,000 people altogether.
One voter’s opinions was consistent with Galliano’s assessment.
“There aren’t many choices in this election — even the choices for mayor are not very good,” the man who chose remain to anonymous said. “And de Blasio is not a good mayor.”
Jeannine Carroll cast her vote for an incumbent in the City Council, Vallone and for Mayor de Blasio because she believes they have a proven track record of bringing improvements to the city and her community.
— Reporter Mark Hallum
Two out of three candidates in race vie to be first woman representing District 28
Turnout was low at the Thurgood Marshall Magnet School of Multimedia and Communication in Rochdale for the City Council District 28 seat.
Battling it out in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary were Community Board 12 Chairwoman Adrienne Adams, public defender Hettie Powell and public sector worker Richard David.
The district represents Rochdale Village, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park and parts of Jamaica.
Poll workers counted almost 400 votes between the hours of 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the school to fill the seat of convicted Councilman Ruben Wills.
Celeste Tomlinson, a first-time poll worker, said there were mostly seniors at the polling booths during the morning and afternoon hours.
Tomlinson hoped once school was let out for children around 3:30 p.m., more parents would be out to vote. She also expected voter turnout to spike immediately around 5 p.m. as the millenials got out of work.
Adams’s presence and David’s presence were definitely felt at the school. Adams was outside campaigning as David’s representatives rallied at the school.
State Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) was outside the school campaigning for Adams even though District 28 falls outside her jurisdiction.
If Powell or Adams wins, one of the two could possibly be the first woman to represent District 28, according to Adams.
— Naeisha Rose.
Vote counts slim in Miller vs. Rivers primary through early afternoon
Compared to the primaries and the general election for the presidency last year, turnout in the Democratic primary for City Council District 27 in southeast Queens was low during the morning and afternoon, according to poll workers at two sites.
Poll workers at PS 34 in Queens Village recorded 286 votes from between 6 a.m. to noon in race between Councilman I. Daneek Miller, who is up against retired U.S. Marine and former NYPD lieutenant Anthony Rivers.
The situation was the same at the Central Library in Jamaica, where poll workers had only 69 voters stop by between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m.
District 27 represents Cambria Heights, Hollis, Springfield Gardens, St. Albans, Queens Village and parts of Jamaica.
Both poll sites cited redistricting as an issue in District 27. Poll workers had to take affidavits for voters who were no longer listed at their polling site or for those they could not find a replacement site for based on their address.
Poll workers at both sites hoped that once parents came to pick up their children after 3 p.m. or from work after 5 p.m. that there would be a significant jump in turnout.
— Naeisha Rose
Crowley vs. Holden race fails to draw big voter turnout
The primary race between City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and her challenger, civic leader Robert Holden, failed to generate a flood of voters to at least a couple of polling sites in District 30.
At Maspeth High School just over a hundred had voted by 1:30 p.m., including Holden.
“It’s really surprising the turnout is so low. It almost seems like no one knew there was a primary today,” Precinct Coordinator Theresa Riley said. “Maybe things will pick up later on. We’ll have to see.”
Meanwhile, at PS 88 Seneca in Ridgewood, the scene was much the same. Only 130 people had cast their ballots before 2 p.m. Poll worker Anthony Chang said, “It’s been very light so far.”
James Richards, a Ridgewood resident, was shocked by the small number.
“Around here people take voting very seriously. Normally there are long lines and today there was nothing,” he said. “And I thought this was supposed to be the hot race. Go figure.”
— Reporter Bill Parry
Civil rights leader John Lewis backs Moya in race against Monserrate
State Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) had a bounce in his step as he walked down 104th Street from his Corona home Tuesday morning with his father Edgar and mother Maria. He stopped and greeted dozens of cheering supporters at the corner of 48th Avenue at St. Leo’s Church. before heading in to St. Leo’s Church to cast his ballot in his primary race against Hiram Monserrate, the former City Councilman who is running to reclaim his old seat after convictions for assault and corruption.
“I feel great and the receptions was wonderful,” Moya said before heading inside to cast his ballot in the Democratic primary convictions for assault and corruption. Moya had some added confidence that Sunday night’s robocalls from civil rights leader, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), to 5,000 voters in East Elmhurst and Corona might have been a game-changer.
“Look, I think the knockout punch was the combinations we have thrown at a candidate that doesn’t deserve to be in public service,” Moya said. “Honest and integrity matter and people have recognized that throughout the political world. It’s the commitment to insuring that we protect this community and keep this criminal out of office.”
Monserrate, who voted at the First Baptist Church in East Elmhurst, had no comment on the Lewis robocalls. In the calls, Lewis said during his decades on the front lines in the fight for civil rights, one thing he has always known is not to take anything for granted.
“I’ve fought too long and too hard to allow anyone to take us back,” Lewis said. “We’re going forward, and we’ll need someone with the strength of character and the moral fortitude it will take to win. I’m confidant that Francisco is that person.”
Lewis had made several trips to District 21 with U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), according to Moya, and it was Crowley “who made a call to his folks and he came on board.” Moya also agreed that Crowley, the chairman of the Queens County Democratic organization, had put his thumb on the scale to help Moya defeat Monserrate in the primary race.
“To have a legend, a civil rights leader like John Lewis come out and support my candidacy really is a testament to what we’ve been able to accomplish in my campaign and what I’ve fought for my entire career, fighting for immigration rights, civil rights and criminal justice reform.”
— Reporter Bill Parry
Turnout slows in Lancman-Rahman race after an early spurt
It was a quiet mid-morning at Fresh Meadow’s PS 154, located at 75-02 162nd St., where the names of City Councilman Rory Lancman and Mohammad Rahman were on the ballot. The gymnasium was full of poll workers but not many voters by 10:30 a.m.. But according to poll workers at around 9 a.m., there were lines of voters but it slowed down. Poll workers said they expect that around 5 p.m will be the busiest period because that is when people get out of work. Lancman cast his vote at the elementary school at around noon.
— Reporter Gina Martinez
Voting patterns fluctuated in Koo vs. Tan primary battle
It was a similar scene at Flushing’s Taiwan Center, located at 137-44 Northern Blvd., where Councilman Peter Koo is facing a challenge from fellow Democrat Alison Tan.
At around noon things were slowing down, with only a handful of voters in the auditorium. According to a poll worker, it was fairly busy from around 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. and he expects it to get busy again at 5 p.m.
Tan supporters were standing outside the center with signs in support of their candidate and a poll worker had to tell them to leave. The supporters crossed the street still holding up a sign backing Tan.
— Reporter Gina Martinez
Voter in Whitestone wants rotation of elected officials
The gymnasium at PS 193 in Whitestone was quiet as poll workers waited patiently for voters. Although slow, about 180 residents had been to the polls to cast their vote for mayor and City Council by midday.
“I would say it’s generally very quiet on primaries,” poll site coordinator Peter Perrino said. “I would say we are about average for turnout. But I usually don’t pay attention to the count until about 5 p.m.”
Jeanne Hall said she while she was happy with the work of Public Advocate Letitia James for the work she has done to hold landlords accountable, she believed an overall rotation of elected officials was in order in City Hall and the Council.
“Maybe change it up a little and see if we can do a little better with someone other than Vallone,” Hall said.
Councilman Paul Vallone is shooting for a second term against land-use consultant Paul Graziano in the 19th Council District.
— Reporter Mark Hallum