First-time candidate Nily Rozic of the 25th Assembly District is one step closer to Albany after overtaking her Queens County Democratic Party-backed opponent by close to 500 votes last week, according to unofficial results.
“This campaign reveals the true believers, the true Democrats, the true feminists, the true progressives, the true reformers and really the true believers in the American dream,” Rozic said. “We really did big things tonight.”
The Fresh Meadows Assembly hopeful reigned triumphant by 56 percent over her rival, Community Board 11 Chair Jerry Iannece, who brought in 496 fewer votes. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Rozic raked in 2,245 votes to Iannece’s 1,749, unofficial results showed.
Rozic served as the chief of staff to Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh before setting forth with her dreams to reach the Capitol. At her late night victory party, held at the Sly Fox Inn on Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows, she called her former boss a “brilliant political mentor.”
“I respect you deeply, more than you probably know. I really mean it when I say I struck gold when I strolled into your office on St. Mark’s Place eight years ago,” Rozic said to Kavanagh, who was in attendance. “I’ll see you in Albany.”
Kavanagh told The Courier the voters of the district made a “resounding choice” in choosing Rozic.
“She’s really somebody who’s proven herself to be someone who cares about the right issues and really cares about her community,” he said. “It’s a great night for this community and certainly a great night for somebody who’s going to be a great leader at the state level.”
Rozic went into the primary touting major endorsements, including those from the New York Times, New York Daily News, Emily’s List, League of Conservation Voters and the Working Families Party.
Iannece, an attorney and longtime community activist from Bayside, had the backing of the Queens County Democratic Party and several of the borough’s elected officials, but his ties with the county may have worked against him in the end, according to Rozic.
“The 25th Assembly District wants someone who’s independent, someone who offers a different perspective and is a fresh voice for our neighborhood,” Rozic said.
But Iannece disagreed, saying the victor won the battle based on “sleazy tactics” and dirty campaigning.
“She went out with wolf packs, bashing me at doors and poll sites, calling me anti-Semitic, handing out literature with fake endorsements from Grace Meng, suppressing my vote in Bayside Hills, calling me a political hack,” Iannece said. “I spent 25 years doing the right thing and this 26 year old, who’s done nothing, comes and bashes me and seizes the day.”
Iannece admitted to getting into a verbal fight with Rozic at a poll site over a mailer she distributed that linked her with Assemblymember Grace Meng, a popular figure in the Asian community.
Meng had endorsed Iannece over Rozic, but the palm card compares the two “strong” women as being both endorsed by the New York Times.
“It was like Pearl Harbor the way we were being attacked at the polls,” Iannece said, adding that he was also being depicted as a “machine” candidate. “I didn’t expect someone to do that vile stuff to another person. How badly do you want to win to do that stuff? That was wrong. I didn’t do that to her. But it worked. People bought that.”
Iannece — who had previously, but unsuccessfully, run for City Council in 2001 and 2009 — said it was highly unlikely for him to seek public office in the future and even to continue his role as a community board chair.
“I haven’t made my mind up yet. It’s still fresh. I’m still very emotional,” he said. “Right now, I’m thinking of packing it in with everything. I’m a little disgusted and discouraged. It’s just the wrong message.”
Rozic will take on Republican community activist Abe Fuchs in the November general election.
The newly-redrawn district mostly encompasses Fresh Meadows and parts of Utopia, Oakland Gardens and Bayside. The seat is currently held by Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who decided not to seek re-election after his failed Congressional primary run in June against Meng.