Councilman Donovan Richards will likely hire his one-time electoral rival Pesach Osina next week.
“It’s an interesting time, you know, sort of like Barack and Hillary,” Mr. Richards, the winner of an incredibly tight special election in southeast Queens last month, told Politicker on Friday. “We heal quick. You know, I think Pesach would certainly be a great addition to my team. He will help unite the community and he’ll be a great asset. Don’t be surprised if he’s hired next week.”
Donovan Richards declared victory today in the Queens special election to replace his mentor, former Councilman James Sanders, putting to rest fears that the election’s outcome would be unknown for weeks or even months in what had become a racially-charged contest.
With all absentee and affidavit votes counted, Mr. Richards padded his razor-thin 26-vote Election Day margin with another 133 votes, while his main competitor, Pesach Osina, only gathered an additional 80. This brought the unofficial tally to 2,646 for Mr. Richards and 2,567 for Mr. Osina, a wide enough margin to avoid an automatic recount. The results will be certified next week.
Flanked by a coterie of elected officials, Donovan Richards declared victory last night in a wide-open, eight-way Queens City Council special election. Seven miles south, Pesach Osina did the same exact thing.
With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Richards leads Mr. Osina by just 26 votes, easily making the 31st District race too close for observers to call. Vote counting ceased at midnight and will resume today, but at last glance, Mr. Richards had 2,513 votes to Mr. Osina’s 2,487. In addition to a potentially missing memory stick from a ballot scanner, absentee and paper ballots still need to be counted. A recount is also likely, but each candidate acted like the undisputed victors nevertheless.
“I’m calling on the community tonight to put aside their differences. Those who ran in this election, let’s not be bitter against each other,” Mr. Richards said at a bustling lounge in Laurelton, Queens.
An opponent of attorney Jacques Leandre, one of eight candidates running in a Queens City Council special election, again accused him of engaging in “plantation-type politics” on last night’s Road to City Hall when asked about Mr. Leandre’s legal challenge to his petitions to get on the ballot. Michael Duncan made his claim when another candidate in the race, Donovan Richards, asked him how he felt about Mr. Leandre’s challenges in a forum on the show.
“I think Jacques is a very smart brother,” Mr. Duncan answered. “I think Jacques took the time to investigate my petition. I think Jacques realized I had over 1,600 good signatures. So Jacques should not use that same plantation-type politics that have been used on us for centuries.”
One power broker in southeast Queens fears that the next City Council candidate to represent the 31st Council district will be a “young Jewish boy.”
In order to prevent Pesach Osina, an Orthodox Jewish former staffer to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, from winning the election, Bishop Charles Norris, founder of the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church, is urging some of the eight other candidates to step aside. The seat in the majority black district was left open when James Sanders was elected to the State Senate and next week’s special election to replace him has attracted a crowded field.
“The black vote would be split among the six or seven candidates,” Mr. Norris told Politicker yesterday. “Since Jews vote in a bloc, as they usually do—and there’s nothing wrong with that—the young Jewish boy in the Rockaways would win.”
It’s a good day for former Assemblyman Rory Lancman.
Mr. Lancman, a candidate for outgoing Councilman Jim Gennaro’s seat, was first welcomed to the news that his top opponent, Martha Taylor, had dropped out of the race. Giving him a further boost, this afternoon, Mr. Lancman scored the endorsement of the Hotel Trades Council, a small but politically powerful union that successfully worked on behalf of Mr. Lancman’s competitor in a congressional campaign last year.
The February 19 special election to replace Councilman James Sanders continues to heat up, and one of the candidates, Donovan Richards, scored the influential endorsement of the labor-backed Working Families Party.
“A district that’s still badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy needs a champion for working families like Donovan Richards,” said Bill Lipton, the WFP’s deputy director in a statement, referencing the extensive devastation that occurred along the southeastern Queens coastline. “Donovan has fought gun violence and protected libraries, schools and hospitals from cuts and closure. He’ll be a tremendous addition to the City Council.”
Winds of Change
A candidate for City Council in a Sandy-ravaged Far Rockaway district is running on a hurricane-themed party line. Selvena Brooks is filing petitions to get on the ballot under the name of the “Rebuild Now” party.
“I’m only going to put money into evidence-based projects,” Earnest Flowers, the chairman of the fairly powerful Elmer H. Blackburne Democratic Club in southeast Queens, told The Politicker when he announced his City Council campaign yesterday evening, explaining his plans if he’s successful. “Everything has to be evidence-based.”
Mr. Flowers’s interest in the seat, currently held by term-limited Councilman James Sanders, had already been established when he registered a campaign committee, but now his campaign is swinging into full gear with a campaign website and a relatively unique campaign platform.