Boro lawmakers keep Albany posts
By Rebecca Henely

Despite a contentious redistricting that Queens’ Democratic legislators found to be a transparent power grab by Republicans to control the state Senate, Queens Democratic senators ended up holding onto their districts by large margins in the 2012 elections.

Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), whose district was originally redrawn to put his house in Sen. Jose Peralta’s (D-East Elmhurst) territory, ended up defeating Republican challenger Aurelio Arcabascio with 86 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from NY 1.

Both Gianaris, who was elected in 2010 after serving in the state Assembly for 10 years, and Arcabascio, who works at North Shore-LIJ, made job creation and better health care for the district crucial components of their campaigns. The senator also focused on gun control and environmental protection while Arcabascio touted creating an urban enterprise zone in Maspeth.

Gianaris had criticized the new lines as gerrymandering that divided neighborhoods and an attempt to hold onto power by forcing Democrats to run against each other. He did not face a primary race.

In northeast Queens, Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), handily defeated Republican Joseph Concannon, a retired NYPD officer, with a 73 percent lead, according to NY 1. Avella ran against hydrofracking and political corruption, but Concannon, whose campaign promises included a smaller government and a crackdown on crime, accused Avella of not doing enough.

Former Republican Sen. Frank Padavan, who Avella unseated in 2010, thought of running a rematch before Concannon stepped up to the plate. Concannon referred to the the 38-year legislator often in his campaign.

Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), who has been in office since 1999, won another two years and ended up trouncing Republican lawyer J.D. Kim by 74 percent according to NY 1, even though her house and some perceived Democratic strongholds had been drawn out of the district. Stavisky’s campaign focused on education and immigrant opportunity, while Kim’s campaign centered on less regulation for small businesses and improving the economy.

Stavisky had defeated Oakland Gardens lawyer John Messer in a bitter primary race this September.

Peralta and Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) did not face opponents in their re-election bids this year. City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton), who won the primary election against incumbent Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) in September, did not face an opponent in the general election and will join the Senate at the beginning of next year.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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