By Carlotta Mohamed
John Liu claimed victory in Tuesday night’s midterm election defeating Republican Vickie Paladino, Conservative Simon Minching and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who refused to step down after losing the Democratic primary in September.
Liu thanked his supporters and new colleagues in a packed bar room at Bayside’s Monahan and Fitzgerald — located at 214-17 41st Ave. — as they repeatedly chanted “John Liu!”
“We took the Senate back for a true Democrat,” said Liu, as supporters applauded and cheered. “It’s about this district, it’s about this community, it’s also about the state of New York, and it’s about fighting back against what’s happening in this country!”
Liu’s victory helped Democrats take control of the state Senate for the first time since 2010.
With 96.6 percent of the precincts reporting, Liu secured 53.52 percent of the votes, while Paladino obtained 24.8 percent and Avella trailed behind with 20.75 percent, according to unofficial results from the city Board of Elections. Minching finished with 1.4 percent of the votes.
“I’m grateful and humbled by the confidence the voters have placed in me and I reiterate my pledge that I’ll work every day to represent the public interest,” said Liu. “I thank my rivals in this sometimes contentious election and hope to work with them all going forward, for the greater interest.”
Liu, a former city councilman and city comptroller, will now represent the 11th Senate District in northeast Queens — which covers Bayside, College Point, Auburndale, Beechhurst, Whitestone, Bay Terrace and parts of Flushing, Douglaston, Little Neck and Glen Oaks.
Liu and Avella — a former member of the defunct Independent Democratic Conference member from 2014 to 2018 — previously went head-to-head in the 2014 primary, which Avella won by a narrow margin of 894 votes.
Facing off in their second bout four years later, both candidates ran campaigns promising to continue improving quality-of-life issues, affordable housing, and education for their constituents in the district.
In his victory speech, Liu said he wants to pass legislation to bring dignity to immigrants, make sure workers are treated fairly, and protect a woman’s right to choose in the Reproductive Health Act.
“So many pieces of legislation that have been bottled up for so long in New York state Senate, we’re going to work very hard to pass them come January,” said Liu.
Liu’s diverse sea of supporters said they believe in the former city comptroller’s ability to bring forth change in the community and Albany.
Minsun Kim, president of the Korean American Association of Greater New York, said she is proud of Liu’s accomplishment.
“His efforts to enrich our community since he was a comptroller in New York City. I don’t doubt his dedication to our community and he’s able to improve our quality-of-life in New York State,” said Kim. “John Liu is one of the very few politicians we can trust, so we’re really proud of John.”
Barbara Baruch of Flushing, a retired teacher who taught for 33 years, met Liu while he was running for city council.
“People really love him and I think he’s going to make a lot of changes in the Senate and that’s what we need,” said Baruch. “There’s so many things that need to be addressed, especially the one who’s the president. I think he’s a role model. He’s an example of the American dream.”
State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) said Liu’s victory signals new opportunities in Albany to bring about meaningful change in the community.
“From property tax to relief fixing our broken mass transit system, northeast Queens residents face unique challenges that have gone overlooked for far too long,” said Rozic. “I congratulate John on his election win and look forward to working with him as my colleague in the state Senate.”
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha