Amato re-elected to southern Queens Assembly seat nearly two months after election day following final recount

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato wins re-election over Republican challenger Thomas Sullivan after final ballots were counted Wednesday. (QNS/File)

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato has won re-election in District 23 nearly two months after voters went to the polls. A final manual recount of the ballots Wednesday determined that Amato had beaten her Republican challenger Thomas Sullivan by just 15 votes.

Sullivan led by 246 votes on election night but watched as his lead dwindled after Amato sued to have 94 ballots that had been rejected by the Board of Elections included in the recount.

On Dec. 6, Queens Supreme Court Judge Joseph Risi ruled in Amato’s favor and ordered the New York City Board of Elections to count the 94 absentee ballots and four affidavit ballots that the board had mistakenly declared invalid. Amato took the lead by a single vote of the nearly 32,000 that were cast.

Amato won another decision to have an additional nine rejected ballots included in the count. In total, 110 rejected ballots were included in the final recount that was completed Wednesday afternoon.

“I know this has been a long and difficult process for everyone involved,” Pheffer Amato said. “The wheels of our American democracy do not
always turn as quickly as we’d like, but preserving the integrity of our elections, ensuring the accuracy of the count, and defending the right of every voter’s voice to be heard is more important than expediency.”

Amato has represented District 23 since 2017 which includes the south Queens neighborhoods of Howard Beach, Ozone Park and the western end of the Rockaway peninsula.

“I want to thank all of my supporters, my family and friends, and my constituents for their patience throughout this process, and I am humbled and honored to once again be selected by the voters to represent this wonderful district,” Pheffer Amato said. “We have important work to do to fight for our community and stand up for our working families. This election is over, and I look forward to continuing this work for my constituents.”

Sullivan, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and married father of four from Breezy Point, said he was disappointed in the outcome.

“I’m very, very disappointed in the election process and certainly disappointed in the judicial process, but I am not defeated,” Sullivan told QNS. “My campaign will be back to make sure people have a choice going forward. I’m very, very proud of the campaign we ran. I met a lot of truly great people and I’m truly appreciative of their support. We certainly surprised not only the Democratic Party but the Republican Party, too. We surely did that.”