Voters Guide: What you need to know about the Feb. 2 special election for District 24 City Council seat

File photo/QNS

The first election in Queens in 2021 is fast approaching.

On Tuesday, Feb. 2, voters in Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills and Jamaica will head to the polls to vote in the special election to fill the New York City Council seat in District 24.

Eight candidates are currently seeking the seat, which became vacant after former Councilman Rory Lancman took a job as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new special counsel for ratepayer protection.

The nonpartisan election will also be the first test of the city’s new ranked-choice voting system, which after being overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2019, has come under fire in the months leading up to its implementation.

Despite legal challenges by several Queens electeds, the new system, which allows voters to rank their top five choices instead of choosing just one candidate, will be used in the Feb. 2 special election.

Learn more about ranked-choice voting here

The winner of District 24’s special election will serve until the end of the year, when Lancman’s term is set to end. Voters in the district will also cast ballots for the seat in during the June 22 primary elections and during the November general elections. The winner of the November election will represent the district come January 2022.

Seven of the eight candidates on the ballot for the special election have not previously run for public office.

See the list of candidates running in the City Council special election in District 24 below:

  • Moumita Ahmed: A progressive community activist, Ahmed is campaigning on, among other issues, tenants rights, climate change and shifting money from the NYPD to various social services.
  • Michael Brown: A real estate agent, Brown is campaigning on, among other issues, the development of economic zones, the COVID-19 recovery and providing relief to New York City yellow cab medallion owners and drivers.
  • James Gennaro: A former councilman in District 24, Gennaro is campaigning on, among other issues, centrist government in New York City, revamping governance of public schools and addressing the city’s infrastructure against storms.
  • Neeta Jain: A Democratic district leader, Jain is campaigning on, among other issues, providing affordable healthcare to city residents, providing financial relief to small businesses during the pandemic and pushing for the creation of more affordable housing.
  • Dilip Nath: Nath, the president of the New American Voters Association, is campaigning on, among other issues, increasing public schools funding, providing COVID-19 economic relief and expanding health care for seniors.
  • Mujib Rahman: A community activist, Rahman is campaigning on, among other issues, public safety, increasing funding for the NYPD and expanding school choice.
  • Deepti Sharma: Sharma, a small business advocate, is campaigning on, among other issues, reinvesting in the community, making the district more accessible, making Queens more equitable.
  • Soma Syed: Syed, president of the Queens County Women’s Bar Association, is campaigning on, among other issues, ending increases on property taxes, addressing discrepancies in public education and providing assistance to small businesses.

Early voting for the special election will begin on Jan. 23 and run until Jan. 31. Poll sites and their hours during the early voting period can be found at voting.nyc by entering your address on the “Where to Vote” page.

The absentee ballot request period is currently open and will be until Jan. 26. Voters must mail their ballot with a postmark date prior to Feb. 3 or leave it in a drop box at any poll site or Board of Elections office through the end of Feb. 2. Voters can request an absentee ballot at vote.nyc.

Polls will be open for in-person voting on Tuesday, Feb. 2 from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m.

The election in District 24 won’t be only special election to take place in Queens this February.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, voters in Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens will head to the polls to fill the seat left vacant by Donovan Richards, who was sworn in late last year as Queens borough president.