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Incumbent Stavisky, newcomer Ron Kim defeat Republican challengers


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/PHOTOS BY ALEXA ALTMAN

Political veteran State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky welcomed in a new generation of local leadership when she and first-time candidate Ron Kim celebrated their general election wins of Senate District 16 and Assembly District 40, respectively.

Stavisky, the first woman from Queens to be elected to the State Senate, defeated Republican opponent J.D. Kim with 76 percent of the vote and garnered 40,355 votes according to unofficial results, retaining her seat in Senate District 16 for what will be her seventh term.

“I’m always nervous,” said Stavisky before the results poured in on Tuesday, November 6. “And I think that’s a good thing because you can’t take voters for granted. Every election is different and I’m optimistic but the voters have spoken.”

Celebrating alongside Kim, who swept a victory from Philip Gim with 67 percent of the vote, Stavisky applauded the political newcomer’s “remarkable job” and indicated his key to success as continuing along his current trajectory.

“It’s very difficult when you run for office for the first time but [Kim] instinctively knew what to do, he knew what positions to take — it’s a lot different when you’re a candidate. It’s one thing to study political science and be familiar with the issues and it’s quite different when you’re a candidate.”

Kim, who was endorsed by Assemblymember Grace Meng, whose seat he will be taking, outraised Gim by a more than 2 to 1 margin.

During Kim’s victory speech, he thanked his staff, volunteers and family. Kim named New York City Comptroller John Liu as his “mentor” and “advisor,” saying that had it not been for Liu, he would have not won this election.

“When an elected official makes an endorsement it’s usually a photo op and a piece of advice,” said Kim. “But John was there every single night — he was so dedicated. I learned so much about what it is to run a campaign the right way and do it the clean way and just pure hard work.”

He then thanked Stavisky for her guidance, saying the Senator stood with him from the beginning of his campaign and their successes were the result of a combined effort.

“We ran as a team and we won as a team,” said Kim.

Board of Elections bounces hopefuls from ballot


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Three northeast Queens assembly hopefuls had their election dreams squashed after the city’s Board of Elections (BOE) tossed them off the primary ballot.

Democrat John Scandalios, who was vying to replace Assemblymember Grace Meng in the Flushing-based 40th District, had an insufficient number of signatures and was bumped off the September 13 primary ballot, according to results of the BOE’s July 31 ballot challenge hearings.

William Garifal Jr. — one of two Republican runners in the 25th Assembly race — and Lauren Whalen-Nelson, who had hoped to take on current Assemblymember Ed Braunstein in the 26th District, also got the boot due to lack of valid petitions.

Each contender had until July 12 to circulate at least 500 required designating petitions, according to the BOE.

Democrats Ron Kim, Ethel Chen, Myungsuk Lee, Yen Chou and Martha Flores-Vasquez and Republicans Phil Gim and Sunny Hahn will battle it out next month in the 40th District, as will Democrats Jerry Iannece and Nily Rozic in the 25th District. With Garifal’s expulsion, Republican candidate Abe Fuchs in the 25th District will sail through to November’s general election.

State Senator Tony Avella will also not see a challenger until November, when he will face off with Republican contender Joseph Concannon in the 11th District. But State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky in the 16th District can expect a primary fight from Democratic opponent John Messer. Both had enough signatures to make it through until September, despite allegations from Messer’s camp saying Stavisky submitted fraudulent signatures. The winner will take on Republican candidate J.D. Kim.

Braunstein is looking at an uncontested re-election if the Queens County Republican Party declines to file an appeal on behalf of Whalen-Nelson. GOP chair Phil Ragusa said the County was considering the move but was not yet sure.

“We don’t want to disenfranchise the voters of the 26th Assembly district,” Ragusa said. “In an election, you should have both parties represented.”

Whalen-Nelson was seeking to run as a substitute for Tim Furey, a candidate who originally planned on taking on the incumbent but later declined the line, Ragusa said.

Furey, who had unsuccessfully tried to unseat Assemblymember David Weprin in the 24th District in 2010, was not the first this year to bow out of the 26th District race despite being backed by the Queens GOP.

The GOP originally pushed to pit Ralph Cefalo against Braunstein, but the Malba resident ultimately chose not to enter the race, citing personal matters, Ragusa said back in June.

But the County chair said declinations were nothing new.

“There’s a time to decline. This isn’t the first time this happened. It’s how Joe Crowley became the congressman. It’s done all the time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Scandalios lambasted the “forces against him” — opponent Yen Chou, the Queens County Democratic Party and the BOE — for throwing him off the ballot.

The former comic book store owner said the BOE gave him “false information” while he fought objections from the Queens Democrats and “corrupt data” by BOE clerks.

Scandalios can appear on the ballot in the general election if he runs on another line and gathers 1,500 signatures from within the district by August 26, according to the BOE.

“Eventually, I will be elected,” Scandalios said.

Race for Lancman’s seat heats up as he declines district leader nom


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A defeated congressional hopeful abandoned his run for re-election as party district leader, giving his county-backed opponent an uncontested free ride to the September election.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman filed declinations with the Board of Elections on July 16 to pull his candidacy in the Democratic Leadership 25th District Part A race as male district leader.

The move allows Queens County Democratic Party pick Yuen Yee Kui of Flushing to run without an opponent. By bowing out, Lancman — a decade-long district leader — will also avoid the second battle in a year with a county candidate.

Lancman defied the county in the 6th Congressional District when he chose to run against party-pick Assemblymember Grace Meng, who won with nearly 53 percent of the vote in the June 26 primary.

He pledged not to run for re-election in his current Assembly seat if his campaign fell short of Capitol Hill, but sources close to him could not specify his next plans. There is, however, speculation he may seek a run for City Council or borough president.

“Rory has other professional and political priorities right now other than running for re-election as a Democratic District Leader,” said Dominic Panakal, Lancman’s chief of staff.

Meanwhile, the race to replace him is heating up as the two Democratic primary hopefuls battle it out over their campaign war chests.

Democrat Nily Rozic of Fresh Meadows, a first-time candidate, boasted she outraised her opponent Jerry Iannece, who is a county-backed Community Board 11 chair with an army of institutional support, with over $60,000 from more than 250 individual donors across the city.

But Iannece, who holds a war chest of a little over $53,000, said the bulk of Rozic’s funds came from family members at the 11th hour and residents who live outside of the district.

According to the state’s Board of Elections financial disclosure report, more than $17,000 came from contributors who appear to be Rozic’s family members. A large majority of donors, the report shows, also live in other districts around the borough, city and some out of state.

“Money doesn’t win an election,” Iannece said. “I didn’t try to play games and show people I have support. At the end of the day, I’m going to have more than enough money to run. I’m more than where I thought I would be.”

A source close to Rozic’s campaign said it is not uncommon for large funds to come from contributors who live outside of the district and that funds from blood relatives hold the same amount in weight as those from outside the family.

“Bottom line is I outraised him,” Rozic said.