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Borough president race is tight and turbulent

While many races in Queens found winners on Primary Day last month, a number of competitions were too close to call after tallying first round votes.
Three weeks after the fact, ranked-choice and mail-in ballots have been counted, offering a clearer view of who won some of the more contested races in the borough.
The race for Queens Borough President was the highest profile race to go down to the wire. Current Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and ex-councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley had previously ran against each other in a special election for the position last year, and their rivalry escalated to new heights as ballots were counted this past week.
On primary day, Richards barely led with 41.7 percent of first choice votes while Crowley closely trailed with 40.4 percent. After all the ballots had been counted, Richards still led by a slim 50.3 to 49.7 percent margin.
The borough president declared victory at this point, but ruffled many feathers when he tweeted “We beat your racist a**,” implying that Crowley had previously said he only won because of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.
Crowley responded with her own statement: “I’m extremely disappointed by the slanderous and untruthful remarks made by one of my opponents. Politics and campaigning can be tough, and I understand that some may take legitimate policy disagreements personally on the trail. “However, I’ve always believed that leadership is about taking the high road and representing the people, not Trump-like bullying on Twitter and making unfounded accusations with no evidence whatsoever.”
Crowley is yet to concede from the race and is instead waiting for the Board of Elections to “cure” (a process by which voters can fix improperly completed ballots) votes.

Democratic borough president hopefuls debate

A crowded field of Democratic candidates are vying to replace Eric Adams as borough president of Brooklyn.
On May 18, six candidates – Robert Cornegy, Kim Council, Khari Edwards, Mathieu Eugene, Antonio Reynoso, and Jo Anne Simon – exchanged jabs and discussed policy during a televised debate.
Topics included affordable housing, the city’s economy in the wake of COVID-19, and the controversial Industry City rezoning.
Polls currently place current councilmen Cornegy and Reynoso at the front of the pack. The two sparred during the debate, with Cornegy questioning Reynoso over his lack of support for the doomed Industry City rezoning in Sunset Park.
“Months later, there has been no alternative plan for job creation in that area, no alternative for putting people on a pathway to any opportunity in that area,” Cornegy said. “I’m curious as to how you count that as a win when nothing else has been created?”
Reynoso defended his stance on the issue, citing the opposition leveraged against the rezoning by Sunset Park’s current councilman Carlos Menchaca and the local community board.
“The community board voted against the Sunset Park rezoning, every single elected official that represents that district voted against it, and I think that given their experience and their time in their community they know what’s best,” Reynoso explained.
Reynoso went on to emphasize the importance of listening to community feedback on all land-use issues.
Edwards, who serves as Brookdale Hospital vice president and coordinator of the East Brooklyn Call to Action Campaign, used his speaking time to address the high rate of displacement and gentrification in the borough.
He particularly criticized Cornegy for allowing so much development in his district, which includes Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
Council, a community activist and legal librarian, cited her experience bringing affordable housing and health clinics to Bedford-Stuyvesant. During the debate she suggested the creation of a mobile Borough Hall that would “flip the switch on top-down governance.”
Eugene, who represents Flatbush in the City Council, focused primarily on the issues of education and gun violence, calling for action to address the recent spike in violent crimes.
Simon, who currently serves in the state Assembly, also focused on gun safety. She called for the creation of new red-flag laws and cooperation with state and federal governments.

Rally celebrates guilty verdict in Floyd murder

Floyd in Minneapolis, Borough President Donovan Richards held an event praising the guilty verdict, but added there was “little cause for celebration.”
“While we breathe a sigh of relief, this fight is not over,” Richards told a small gathering at Borough Hall, pledging to “see this fight for accountability through.”
Richards, the first Black man to hold the post of Queens borough president, read the names of victims of police violence in New York City, including Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner and Sean Bell.
He reflected on how the decision to convict Chauvin of murder could easily have gone the other way.
“We’ve always felt that our lives did not matter,” he said. “Every time one of us lost our lives and there was no justice served, we felt devalued.”
Richards urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and said that the Black Lives Matter movement should not be seen as a threat to the police or other communities.
“This is not an indictment of an entire department,” he said. “We want the bad apples held accountable.”
He was joined by District Attorney Melinda Katz, Councilwoman Adrienne Adams, State Senator John Liu, Assembly members Jenifer Rajkumar, Khaleel Anderson and David Weprin, and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
Katz said she hoped that last week’s verdict was a step toward positive and systemic change, adding that with police accountability comes community trust and “a safer environment for everyone.”
Liu said that when he heard the verdict for the first time he felt elated, but that joy quickly turned to sadness because he realized the work was “not over, with a lot to do.”
Although Van Bramer, who is challenging Richards in the June Democratic Primary, has called for defunding the police, the controversial measure was not mentioned at last week’s event.
Richards told this paper afterwards that defunding the police “means a lot of different things” to people.
“Everybody gets caught on that word,” he said. “I believe we should make sure equitable resources are going into many communities to make sure they are safer.”
Anderson said to truly tackle the issue of systemic racism in the police force there needs to be “clear lines of engagement and accountability” within the police department.
“Not fluff,” he said, “but people losing their jobs.”

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