By Naeisha Rose
State Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-Queens Village) rode the Democratic blue wave to victory as he beat out his challenger, community leader Oster Bryan, for his re-election bid to continue representing southeast Queens.
With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Vanel compiled 68.3 percent of the votes, while Bryan tallied 17.7 percent, according to unofficial results from the city’s Board of Elections. In total, 16,029 votes were cast with 10,959 for Vanel and 2,794 for Bryan.
“Today was a major victory,” said Vanel at his victory party, located at the Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club at 197-09 Linden Blvd. “It was about y’all. In New York state, we showed how strong Democrats are. It’s very important for Democrats to get back on top.”
Vanel, who currently represents District 33 — which covers St. Albans, Hollis, Bellerose, parts of Floral Park and Queens Village — will now go on to face Republican opponent Lalita Etwaroo, a 2016 graduate of John Jay College who has a master’s degree in Public Administration and was an intern for state Assemblyman Robert Castelli (R-Westchester), in the Nov. 6 general election.
Bryan, who is also a teacher at the Long Island Business Institute in Flushing, campaigned to build up the black community by bringing hospitals back to the district, improving schools and creating and supporting small local businesses in the area.
“The beautiful thing about politics is it’s not about liking one another, it’s not about getting along, it’s not about being friends, it is about bringing issues to the table, and we are both supposed to walk away upset.” said Bryan in an interview with the TimesLedger editorial staff. “These are adversarial relationships and that is okay.”
Bryan is also very proud about how he ran his campaign.
“We don’t treat politics or political involvement like a basketball or football game,” said Bryan. “It’s about making sure you put your issues on the table and making sure they remain there regardless of what happens. We got 2,800 votes in a Democratic primary and we did no fund-raising. Our only issue was fighting for the black community.”
He hopes that the issues he laid out during his campaign will be picked up by Vanel.
“The struggle doesn’t end here,” said Bryan. “I hope that he connects more with the community. You should put the community first before the Queens Democratic machine. You should put the people before the Democratic Party.”
Vanel campaigned to better educate students, create more jobs, tackle quality-of-life issues and retain and attract small business and new technology to southeast Queens.
“New York is a good place to have block-chain technology oriented businesses,” said Vanel during an interview with TimesLedger editorial staff.
Vanel is also focused on local issues important to his constituents such as housing, benefit programs, school choices and preserving the SHSAT.
“African-Americans and other minorities have the ability to do well on such exams, but I believe if I can get into a fight and you put me in a ring with somebody with one hand tied behind my back, even if I’m strong I will have a tough time winning,” said Vanel. “So if you prepare communities that historically haven’t done well on these exams then that is one of the ways you help them get into these specialized schools.”
Earlier this year he sponsored SHSAT practice exams for students in his district, which would have cost their families up to $2,000.
“We are a powerful group and our votes mean a lot,” said Vanel. “We need to start this blue wave right here from Queens.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose