Clark wins re-election to 14th term in Assembly
By Rich Bockmann

Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) assured herself a 14th term as a state legislator Thursday when she fended off a challenge from Cambria Heights resident Clyde Vanel in the Democratic Party primary.

According to CBS News with 58 percent of the votes counted, Clark had 64 percent with Vanel pulling in 36 percent.

Clark said throughout the day she had a good feeling about the race due to her track record serving in the state senate

She thought that the prospects looked good based on her experience serving the district in the state senate

”I thought it would give me an edge,” she said.

With humility, she added she thought she deserved her reputation as an institution in the community.

“I feel very confident that I’ve earned it,” she said.

Clark, who was first elected to the 33rd Assembly district in 1986, appeared to benefit from the name recognition that comes along with having represented an area for so long that one becomes an institution. Her district, which includes all or parts of the neighborhoods of Bellerose, Queens Village and Cambria Heights, Hollis and St. Albans, remained largely intact after redistricting earlier this year.

At several polling sites in Queens Village and Cambria Heights two things seemed apparent. Voters were favoring Clark due to her contributions to the district over the years and recent changes to polling locations were causing confusion.

At the Grace Lutheran Day School on Springfield Boulevard in Queens Village, 18-year old Frances Adams cast her first vote ever for Clark.

“Barbara Clark really tries to help teens, like with getting jobs,” she said standing next to her mother, who said she has voted for Clark for years.

June Whitten, who said she has voted for the assemblywoman in the past five or six elections, said she was aware of Vanel from literature he sent to the house and a phone call she received but she felt it was wiser to keep someone in office who had experience.

“I’m just learning now about what [Vanel] wants to do,” she said. “To make changes now doesn’t seem like a good idea. I think we should keep an older person in office.”

With about 50 votes by 1 p.m., the Lutheran school was one of the quieter polling places in the district.

The real battle ground was to the south in Cambria Heights, with PS/MS 147 and Andrew Jackson High School on either side of Springfield Boulevard along 116th Ave.

By 2:30 p.m., the two schools had combined for about 400 votes and both candidates explained that the two schools had to accommodate more election districts this year due to PS 176 on 235th St. in Cambria Heights being closed due to inadequate wheel-chair accessibility.

At Andrew Jackson, Clark called the situation “totally chaotic” and, perhaps looking ahead, said it did not bode well for the general election in November.

Over at PS/MS 147, Vanel refuted the idea that voter confusion favored his opponent.

“It favors no one,” he said. “It’s not good for me, it’s not good for her and it’s not good for the process. It’s not good for anyone.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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