Pheffer Amato, Sullivan locked in closely contested race for southern Queens Assembly seat

Incumbent Stacey Pheffer Amato (l.) and Republican challenger Thomas Sullivan were locked in a closely contested race too close to call Tuesday night.

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato was locked in a closely contested race with Republican candidate Thomas Sullivan, of Breezy Point, in her re-election bid to represent Assembly District 23, with both candidates holding tight leads at various points late Tuesday night, according unofficial results from the city’s Board of Elections.

As of Wednesday morning Sullivan held a slight lead with 50.37% of the vote (15,246 votes), with 94.31% of scanners reported. Amato had 49.56% of the vote (15,000 votes). The race will likely be decided by absentee ballots. Results will not be official until all ballots are counted and certified by the Board of Elections.

The district includes most of the Rockaways — where she Pheffer Amato was born and raised — and the south Queens neighborhoods of Ozone Park, Lindenwood, Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel. Pheffer Amato has represented District 23 since 2017.

Sullivan, a self-proclaimed political outsider, is a small business owner in the financial industry, and a married father of four, ran on a law and order platform based on his perspective as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.

“I am a political outsider with 27 years of experience in the financial service industry, and 28 years serving (and counting) our country in the United States Army Reserve with combat tours in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” Sullivan said on his campaign website. “I was a small business owner for 10 years, now helping keep an 82-year-old family business going for another generation. My basic belief is before you want to represent your community you should have walked in their shoes in some capacity.”

During the campaign, Sullivan’s main argument was that his opponent was not tough enough on crime.

Pheffer Amato responded last month by penning a formal letter to NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, making an official request for more police officers to be assigned to the 100th, 101st and 106th precincts in her district.

“I have personally seen the strain our police officers are currently going through and believe all three precincts are understaffed,” she wrote, adding that she had heard from her constituents throughout south Queens, not just at the local precinct council meetings, speak of the need for a stronger police presence to ensure safety in their communities. “The work the members of the NYPD do is beyond commendable and every single one of them deserves our praise and extreme gratitude,” Pheffer Amato said. “I am proud to support the NYPD and will continue to be a friend and advocate for them in every way.”

In keeping with the public safety theme, on Nov. 1, she presented three large checks totaling $1,500,000 in state funding to the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department, the Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department, and the Point Breeze Volunteer Fire Department as those communities commemorated the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.

“This is capital funding that can be used to further the good work these fire departments do in Roxbury, Broad Channel and Breezy Point, whether by expanding the building, buying needed equipment or lifesaving apparatuses,” she said. “In this community, we take care of each other, and as your assemblywoman I am working to ensure that our fire departments and the good work they do continues.”

Amato campaigned on other issues such as improved infrastructure to handle the additional 30,000 people that will come with development on the peninsula, improved transit options and more investment in resiliency projects to improve protections against coastal storms.