By Mark Hallum
Northeast Queens voters handed victories with wide margins to two councilmen who faced rivals from the Republican and Reform parties.
Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) defeated his Republican challenger, former NYPD captain Joe Concannon, by 65 percent to 33 percent of the vote, according to WNYC. Meanwhile, Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) won out for the third time against Paul Graziano, an opponent in the September primary and the 2013 Democratic primary. Graziano, who ran in the general election on the Reform Party Line, came in third place with 17 percent of the vote after Konstantinos Poulidis, a student at Queens College, who got 24 percent.
At his victory party, Grodenchik said, “My priorities for the next four years will be making two things happen: One is that we get closer and closer to 100 percent fair student funding in our local schools … and the other thing is with my colleagues [to work on property tax reform] especially for coops and condos.”
He added, “I have become maybe the leading proponent for more money for food pantries in the city of New York, something that I didn’t campaign on and that I didn’t plan on, but that’s just the way life works.”
Grodenchik was joined by Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), former Councilman Mark Weprin and Retired District Manager for Community Board 11 Susan Seinfeld, at his victory party at Santoor Grill in Glen Oaks.
Grodenchik campaigned on his hope to continue working on the issues of public transportation and patient oversight at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center by adhering to the philosophy that the “best politics is good government.”
Concannon offered a different solution for the problems at Creedmoor and campaigned on ways to improve city services. The former police captain openly opposed the de Blasio administration and frequently criticized Grodenchik, who he vocally called out as a “clone” of the incumbent mayor.
Vallone campaigned on seeking a second term to build on his current four-year record of improving education and funding programs for seniors in northeast Queens. He has touted his efforts that include bringing state-of-the-art facilities to high schools, which give students an edge in developing skills and transportation options for the elderly as an alternative to Access-a-Ride.
Graziano set the tone of the election season in Vallone’s district by launching a lawsuit against the incumbent to challenge the legality of his petition signatures. He later dropped the charges but held his opponent’s feet to the fire until the end of the general election with other allegations.
He later accused Vallone of ethics violations regarding his alleged use of campaign funds to provide free taxi service to seniors heading to the polls on Primary Day.
Vallone started his career in the City Council with a five-way Democratic primary victory 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.
In Council District 24 in northeast Queens City Councilman Rory Lancman took 88 percent of the vote and defeated Republican Mohammad Rahman.
Muhammad Rahman, a former supervisor in the city Department of Social Services, criticized Lancman’s efforts in September to fund non-profits and youth programs in south Asian communities in the district, despite his office receiving over $710,000 in 2017 to be allocated for that purpose.
But Lancman responded by explaining $282,490 had made it to the Bangladeshi community in Jamaica Hills with $49,000 in funds from the non-profit India Homegoing to the Desi Senior Center at Jamaica Muslim Center this year.
“Not only am I the incumbent candidate,” Lancman said. “Before that I was in the state Assembly, before that the community board for 16 years. It’s not simple being able to work for city government for constituents’ benefit, competing for resources with 50 other Council members. You would have to make a really compelling case you could do that better than I have.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall