Paul Vallone wins District 19 primary in final vote count, Shafran concedes


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

File photos
File photos

Paul Vallone officially won the City Council District 19 Democratic primary Tuesday, leading candidate Austin Shafran by nearly a couple hundred votes.

Paul Vallone can pop the champagne bottle — again.

Final vote counts officially sealed the win for the Flushing attorney in a hard-fought and close Democratic primary race for City Council.

“I couldn’t be any more excited,” said Vallone, 46. “It was a delayed week, but it was very exciting.”

Vallone declared his victory on primary night last Tuesday, September 10, in a contentious race to replace scandal-scarred Councilmember Dan Halloran in the 19th District.

But the announcement was seemingly premature, as runner-up candidate Austin Shafran trailed by 144 votes and refused to concede.

With nearly 99 percent of precincts reporting, Vallone was leading his four opponents by about 31 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. He had 2,723 votes to Shafran’s 2,579.

Vallone was declared the champion again after voting machines were checked and paper ballots were counted, a process that began late last week, his campaign said. He won by nearly 200 votes, according to preliminary results.

“You had to be strong all the way through,” Vallone said. “I kind of always hoped the paper ballots would reflect what the primary night results did. It ended up even giving us a little boost.”

His campaign manager, Austin Finan, said the gap between the two candidates narrowed to 134 votes last Friday after machines were recanvassed.

Vallone then gained 59 more votes to secure his victory on September 16, when affidavits, absentee and emergency paper ballots were tallied, Finan said.

While a spokesperson for the Board of Elections said the results could not yet be confirmed, Shafran said he would not contest them.

“We gave it a try. We went up against the Vallone name, which is pretty big,” he said. “I’ve had better days, but you come to grips with it a little bit every day.”

“At the end of the day, it’s under 200 votes total between the margin of victory. That’s like two votes per election district,” Shafran continued. “But whether you lost by one or 1,000, it doesn’t really matter in the long run.”

The race also included third place finisher Paul Graziano with 1,539 votes, John Duane with 1,005 votes and Chrissy Voskerichian with 900 votes, according to unofficial results.

Vallone — the son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother to Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. — will face off with Republican Dennis Saffran in the November general election.