Nolan holds early lead in western Queens Assembly race as challenger faces issues from Board of Elections


After the June 23 Democratic primary, longtime incumbent Catherine Nolan holds an early lead in the race for New York State Assembly District 37, over two challengers Mary Jobaida and Danielle Brecker.

Nolan has 52 percent of the vote (or 4,314), while Jobaida holds almost 33 percent (2,711 votes) and Brecker holds about 15 percent (1,196 votes), with almost 96 percent of scanners reported, according to the city’s Board of Elections.

But District 37 — which encompasses parts of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Ridgewood, and Maspeth — was among the localities with the most absentee ballots distributed (more than 13,000) and returned (more than 3,000) as of Wednesday, June 24, according to the Board of Elections records.

Nolan, who’s represented Assembly District 37 for 36 years, has not addressed the early votes on social media and did not responded to QNS’ multiple requests for comment.

Like many primaries across Queens, AD 37’s race was a competitive one. After 10 years without a primary challenger, Nolan faced two this time around.

Jobaida, a first-time challenger and long time resident of Long Island City, garnered substantial attention and support in her bid for Assembly due to her progressive platform — and for being one of several Bangladeshi-American candidates to run for public office.

Some of her main running issues were affordable housing, climate justice, healthcare for all, and criminal justice reform. She also made it a point to call for term limits for state assembly members.

“As a mother of three who has been raising a family in this district for over 15 years, not once have I seen a true, democratic process when I’ve gone to vote for a state assembly member from my party,” Jobaida told QNS when she announced her candidacy a year ago.

Apart from the challenges that campaigning during a pandemic has brought up for first-time candidates, Jobaida has faced challenges from the BOE.

In May, the BOE almost kicked her off the ballot over what they deemed was a difference between her legal and professional name. She wasn’t the only Queens candidate to deal with the same issue, but a judge ruled to get them both back on the ballot shortly after, according to the Queens Daily Eagle.

But the most recent issue comes in the form of election results. The state’s BOE site listing the unofficial results has left out Jobaida’s name and her votes.

It also rounds out the vote between Nolan and Brecker — leaving Nolan to appear to have 68 percent of the vote.

A screenshot of Board of Elections results page

It also points to more inconsistencies between the separate results pages, such as total voter turnout.

The issue has not been addressed in over a week.

Jobaida said she didn’t realize that was the case, as she was watching the city’s website that does list her name and votes, until people kept messaging her about it.

A screenshot of New York City’s Board of Elections results page

“The state BOE should let candidates know they’re facing issues so they can be aware,” she said. “It’s so shocking. And it just adds to how difficult it is to carry this grassroots campaign, being a mother of three and low-income person. It’s more work for us.”

The BOE did not respond to QNS’ questions about the issue.

Jobaida said she’s currently recruiting volunteers to be present for the absentee ballot count. “I’m still hopeful. I haven’t given up,” she said.

The BOE was expected to begin counting absentee ballots by June 30, but according to Politico, they will begin counting absentee ballots after July 6.

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