By Gina Martinez
City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) has been re-elected to a third term with 66 percent of the 22, 577 votes cast, according to unofficial results from the WNYC website.
With 14,862 votes, the incumbent easily beat his Democratic opponent Michael Scala, who won 7,715 votes, or 34 percent, to represent District 32, which covers parts of Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Rockaway Park, Roxbury, South Ozone Park, West Hamilton Beach and Woodhaven, after a contentious campaign.
On Tuesday morning, voter turnout at Howard Beach’s PS 146 was steady, according to poll workers.
One couple who cast their votes for Ulrich said they thought he had been approachable and helpful in his previous terms. Their main concern was crime in the neighborhood, which they believe has increased. They were confident the Republican candidate would have a second term.
In a victory statement Ulrich said he was deeply humbled by the Election Night results.
“I want to thank the voters for putting their trust and faith in me,” he said. “Representing my constituents at City Hall is one of the greatest honors of my life. Serving my community and protecting our quality of life will always be my top priority,”
Known as a transit activist, Scala has fought for the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road and against implementation of Select Bus Service on Cross Bay Boulevard — deemed unsafe by many.
Scala, an attorney by trade, serves as the first vice president of the Queens Public Transit Committee and during his time with the organization, they have pushed for the return of ferry service in the Rockaways, which was resurrected briefly after Hurricane Sandy to bring relief to commuters going to Manhattan. It was discontinued because the program hit the end of the road with funding.
Ulrich also approached the same issues, proposing a compromise between Queensway advocates and those who want the Rockaway Beach line reactivated. He said service on the long discontinued trestle could be partially reactivated with providing a link between south Queens, Manhattan also a connection to JFK Airport, while the northern section could be used for greenspace.
The campaign got petty. In late October Ulrich criticized Scala for a rap video he made which he called sexist and racist. A YouTube clip of Scala showed him rapping lyrics such as “Rap and me go together like Spanish chicks and strollers” and “But every time these cops talk, I wanna break their jawbone.”
Ulrich, the only Republican elected official from Queens, released a campaign video calling on viewers to denounce racism, sexism, violence and bigotry.
Scala defended the rap video, saying his behavior was the result of growing up with a single mother in south Queens, and that he has “evolved” since his days in the group known as “The Fam.”
Ulrich campaigned for better public transportation and despite initially showing support, he later said he would vote no for the Constitutional Convention.
In October Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Maspeth) endorsed Scala, igniting a feud with Ulrich.
Ulrich tweeted, “I wasn’t planning on getting involved in her race, but I might just have to remind the voters in District 30 how unlucky they are to have her” and blasted her in another tweet, calling her one “of the most incompetent electeds in NYC.”
Ulrich filed an ethics complaint with the Conflicts of Interest Board against Crowley, accusing the councilwoman of allegedly abusing her power and harassing the owner of a restaurant where her son worked. Crowley denied the claims.
Civic leader Bob Holden, who was defeated by Crowley in the Democratic primary but resurfaced on the Republican line in Tuesday’s general election, led by about 100 votes in the final count, making the race too close to call.
Reporter Mark Hallum contributed to this story
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart