Green Party primary a tie for Harrison seat

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The only Green Party City Council primary in the city resulted in a tie vote, leaving both third party candidates for City Councilwoman Julia Harrison’s (D-Flushing) seat at the mercy of the Queens County Green Party next week, one of the candidates said this week.

In the closely watched Democratic primary for the council seat, front-runner John Liu appeared to have squeaked by Democratic district leader Ethel Chen and the rest of the field on a mere 200 votes, according to unofficial results compiled by the Associated Press.

The contest to succeed Harrison has the best chance of producing New York’s first Asian-American council member and the first Asian-American elected official in the state.

The Board of Election will not have the final results tabulated until Thursday

While fewer than 100 Green Party voters are registered in the Flushing district, candidates Evergreen Chou and Paul Graziano were tied 17-17 in the 20th Council District, Graziano said. Chou could not be reached for comment as of presstime Tuesday, but one of his campaign workers confirmed the tie decision.

The 20th Council District includes Flushing and Queensboro Hill as well as parts of the communities of Fresh Meadows, Auburndale, Linden Hill, Murray Hill and Whitestone.

The now divided Green Party primary vote will most likely go to the Queens County Green Party, Graziano said, for a decision.

Graziano said both he and Chou pulled 17 votes each. Graziano candidate blamed irregularities with the Board of Election’s paper ballots on the low voter totals.

“At least 10 to 15 people were turned away at the polls,” Graziano said of those Green Party voters who tried to take part in the primary.

After the tied vote, Graziano said, there were only three options: a candidate could concede, a run-off could be held, or the contest could go to the Queens’ County Greens.

Graziano said both he and Chou preferred the county organization’s decision, which should come in a vote by that organization Oct. 9.

According to unofficial returns from the Associated Press on the Sept. 25 Democratic primary, Liu had 31 percent of the vote and Democratic District Leader Ethel Chen captured 29 percent. Former city official Terence Park and activist Richard Jannaccio brought up the rear with each getting about 20 percent of the vote.

Liu, seen as the front-runner early on in the race, got the Democratic Party nod in May despite Chen’s years as a Democratic district leader. Unofficial results from the Associated Press showed the lead held by Liu over Chen was a narrow 200 votes.

Though originally slated for Sept. 11, the Primary Day elections were canceled after the World Trade Center attacks. Rescheduled for Sept. 25, candidates agreed not to campaign in the two-week interim, leaving campaigns in limbo.

Harrison, a 15-year veteran of the City Council, was barred from running again due to term limits but announced earlier this year she was retiring from her seat regardless.

The race for Harrison’s seat is also interesting because while most races in Queens, a heavily Democratic borough, were decided after the Sept. 25 primary narrowed the Democratic field, there will still be at least four candidates on the ballot for the 20th Council District.

The Democratic winner will face off against Republican Ryan Walsh, a Green Party candidate, and Independent Martha Flores-Vazquez, who was knocked off the Democratic Party line earlier this year when her petitions were challenged.

In a district where the Hispanic population is a large group that comes out to vote, Flores-Vazquez’ presence on the ballot in November could be a threat to the other candidates.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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