By Bill Parry
After a yearlong battle with the city Board of Elections, LeFrak City voters were thrilled to have their polling sites back in a community room at the sprawling residential complex in Corona that is home to more than 14,000 people.
The Continental Room was buzzing with activity on Election Day after an appellate court judge denied a BOE appeal last week for a stay on a lower court ruling the week before and ordered the Board of Elections to return four of LeFrak’s City’s precincts in time for Tuesday’s voting.
“I could actually hear people cheering in different parts of the complex when they heard the news that we were getting them back,” said Robert Grant, a LeFrak City resident since 1974. “People roll out of bed and vote in their pajamas. They’re very comfortable doing that because they’re home.”
Before the primary election in September, the BOE decided to move the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 25th Election Districts to 13 in Elmhurst and the High School for Arts and Business because The Continental Room was not compliant with federal handicapped-accessible laws.
LeFrak City was seen as a hotbed of support for controversial candidate Hiram Monserrate in his primary race against state Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) to replace retiring City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst). Moya won with 56 percent of the vote to Monserrate’s 44 percent.
“It was very disruptive. We lost half of our voters because people didn’t want to walk nearly a mile to vote at the new locations,” Grant said. “I’m sure Mr. Monserrate will file a lawsuit because I’m sure he feels he lost the primary because of that. Folks claim Mr. Monserrate did a lot for LeFrak residents when he was in the state Senate and City Council. He promised a lot, though I can’t say he came through on everything.”
He added, “Mr. Moya wasn’t as well-known as Mr. Monserrate.”
Monserrate, who was elected to the City Council and state Senate, served time for corruption.
Four of the election districts were returned to LeFrak City after the stay was rejected. Election District 17 remained at the High School for the Arts and Businesses..
“It’s the same as it always was before they moved it,” Precinct Coordinator L. Biggs said.
Grant agreed saying everyone was happy to have the polling site back in the basement community room, even if it is not ADA compliant.
“The place isn’t perfect. It’s too small and in major elections it gets very crowded in here and the lines stretch down the block,” Grant said. “But the people are pleased the sites are back and they hope they stay.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr