Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS
Deputy Borough President Sharon Lee (l.) and Borough President Melinda Katz briefed reporters on progress and issues throughout Queens.

As Borough President Melinda Katz prepares to vacate her current seat pending a November victory in the Queens district attorney race, the public may be curious as what is next for the office of the county’s top executive.

Here’s a look into to what you can expect from the process of leadership change in your borough in the coming months and who you can expect to make a claim for key elected offices.

Is Melinda Katz set to become the next Queens DA and succeed the late Richard Brown?

More than likely, the answer is yes.

With superiority of Democratic voters across Queens and only one Republican elected official in the borough, it would seem logical that Katz would take the lead in the general election too after beating Tiffany Cabán by margin of only 55 votes. Cabán’s near victory marked a new chapter in the growing progressive movement in Queens in which the victory of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was almost recreated on a larger scale.

Will Republican Daniel Kogan prevail over Katz? The Queens County Republican Party seems to think he stands a chance and told QNS in June they would not consider using Kogan as a placeholder to be replaced by Gregory Lasak or another figure.

But Kogan has told the The City and the New York Post that he does not plan on running an aggressive campaign for DA with the knowledge the Republicans lack the advantage borough-wide in terms of votes.

If Katz wins, what happens with the borough president’s office?

If the November general election goes as many expect it to go, Katz will be the next DA. In order take that office come Jan. 1, 2020, she’ll have to resign the borough presidency.

Her office, in the interim, would be left under the care of Deputy Borough President Sharon Lee until a special election is held for Katz’s replacement. Mayor Bill de Blasio calls for a special election which he is required to do within 45 days of a vacancy. This means voters can expect to go to the polls not only in the special election, which would be open to Democrats and Republicans.

The situation would be similar to what happened earlier this year with the public advocate’s office. Letitia James, who was elected from the office to state Attorney General last November, resigned on New Year’s Eve 2018. De Blasio ordered a special election for Feb. 26 to fill the public advocate vacancy, which was won by Jumaane Williams. (While the public advocate’s office was vacant, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson stepped in as the acting public advocate.)

The special election winner would only earn the right to be borough president for the remainder of 2020; they would need to run again and win in November 2020 for the right to serve the remainder of Katz’s current term, which ends in 2021.

Who’s running to potentially replace Katz as borough president?

Just like the DA race, the potential special election for Queens borough presidents is already shaping up to be a crowded field of Democrats.

With the majority of City Council members term limited out in 2021, those who have already thrown their hat into the race are familiar faces. Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer has been eyeing the seat for some time, while Councilman Costa Constantinides has also expressed interest. Former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who lost her seat to Robert Holden in 2017, has also announced her intention to run.

Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman has also filed paperwork with the Board of Elections as of Aug. 7 and was a keen supporter of the Queens County Democratic Party’s backing of Katz throughout the Queens DA primary recount process.

Other rumored hopefuls are Councilmen Donovan Richards and Paul Vallone. Councilman Eric Ulrich, the borough’s only elected Republican, is also rumored at potentially seeking the borough presidency.

Who has the edge thus far in the borough president’s race?

At this stage, the advantage lies with the candidate who has already been devoting time to raising money and support.

Crowley launched an exploratory committee in in 2018 and spent that time raising money. In March, she announced at a meeting for the JFK Club that she believed Queens does not get its fair share from the city in terms of funding and government services.

Van Bramer has been widening his visibility outside his Sunnyside council district by allying himself with the progressive movement, vocalizing opposition against Amazon’s HQ2 proposal for Long Island City and being common sight alongside Tiffany Cabán in her run for DA which saw her rise as a national figure. He formally announced his intention to run in April.

Hyndman may see the advantages of backing from the Democratic Party after supporting Katz in the DA race. As the recount process showed New Yorkers, the Democratic establishment still wields considerable power over the political process in the borough having provided legal backing throughout the six-week post-primary contest.

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