Queens voters turn out in force for June 25 primary, elect new representatives and judges

Larinda Hooks was one of the borough’s newly elected Assemblymembers following a democratic primary victory on Tuesday.
Photo courtesy of @jessicaramosqns

For the June 25 primary election, thousands of Queens voters showed up to cast their ballots for new representatives in Albany and a less-known but important judicial position.

In two of the three closely watched State Assembly races, two newcomers were elected, and one longtime incumbent, who is the only one set to face a competitive race in November, was voted in.

Queens voters also picked Queens County Supreme Court Judge Cassandra Johnson to oversee the Surrogate Court, which determines matters of wills and estates. New York City Civil Court Judge Wendy Li, who did not secure the endorsements of the Queens Democratic Party, followed closely with 45% of the votes. 

As of 6 p.m. on primary election day, over 42,000 voters checked in at polling stations across the borough. That is significantly more than in The Bronx and Manhattan and slightly less than the turnout in Brooklyn.

By Wednesday morning, the unofficial election night results from the city’s Board of Elections show that 99% of the votes were in for most of the races. 

District  37

With almost double the turnout of the borough’s other two contested state assembly races, District 37 proved to be one that turned out voters. 

Claire Valdez, a Texas native, secured a strong victory with 58% of the votes. The union organizer and democratic socialist ran on a staunch leftist platform that appealed to voters in the district who reside in Maspeth, Ridgewood, Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City.

“Tonight we proved that a different kind of political vision is possible in Queens. We put tenant power on the ballot, we put stronger labor protections on the ballot, we put a ceasefire on the ballot and we put democratic socialism on the ballot,” wrote Valdez on Tuesday evening. “And we won. See you in Albany.” 

Her primary opponent, Johanna Carmona, a lifelong Sunnyside resident and experienced lawyer, came in second with 32% of the vote. Despite the loss, she secured dozens of endorsements, including prominent ones from the Queens County Democratic Party and elected officials during her campaign.

“I’m so proud of this campaign. I am so proud of every single person who volunteered and supported it. We ran this campaign with dignity and respect,” said Carmona, who went on to wish Valdez “all the best” in representing the district. 

Over 6,600 turned out to the race, which unseated incumbent Juan Ardila, whose term was spoiled with scandals less than a year in due to sexual assault allegations. Despite overwhelming calls to resign, he carried on with the term and decided to run for reelection. 

But he was not considered a serious contender, and just 650 people voted for him. He did not participate in the two in-person debates that he was invited to weeks before Election Day.

District 40 

Longtime incumbent Ron Kim secured 54% of the vote against Andy Yi Chen, who came in second with 40% of just over 3,000 votes. In the Republican primary, Philip Wang ran unopposed.

Kim and Wang will go head to head in November in what is expected to be a competitive race to represent a diverse district that has shifted towards Republican stances in recent years. While Wang has no political experience, he has served the community as a small business owner in the healthcare field for over two decades. 

In his victory message, Kim noted that he is fighting for values such as affordability for the middle class, quality education for children, resources for older New Yorkers and support for first responders. He has held the seat representing Flushing and Linden Hill for 12 years and currently chairs the Aging Committee. 

“This campaign was about bringing people together and building coalitions, and we achieved that in spades. I am so grateful to represent this amazing community,” said Kim, adding that he commends the other candidates for having the courage to run for office. 

Dao Yin, a longtime community activist in the area, secured just 6% of the vote. 

District 35

Larinda C. Hooks secured 59% of the vote, with Hiram Monserrate coming in second with 41%. Approximately 3,400 people from neighborhoods such as Elmhurst and Corona voted in the race. 

The Working Families Party, which put their support behind Hooks and the New York Immigrant Coalition, congratulated her on the victory. District 35 State Senator Jessica Ramos, who was one of many to endorse Hooks, thanked voters for “giving me the best partner to work with in Albany” after the results came in. 

This marked Monserrate’s sixth attempt at securing political office again after being expelled from the state senate in 2010 for assault and later serving prison time for fraud. 

In a hard-fought 2024 primary, we didn’t achieve the victory we yearned, but the voters made their choice and that must be respected. I congratulate Larinda Hooks and wish her well,” Monserrate, who did win reelection for Democratic District Leader on Tuesday.