Queens voters hold on to incumbents

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In what was widely expected to be a “throw the bums out” election year, Queens residents resoundingly decided they love their bums.

Every incumbent facing a primary opponent in the borough went through an anti-incumbent wave unscathed.

In the race to replace Assemblyman Ann Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside), who is retiring, establishment candidate Edward Braunstein – a former aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – bested Whitestone attorney Elio Forcina, Bayside attorney Steve Behar and former Assemblyman John Duane.

Former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate came up short in his attempt to capture a state Assembly seat, losing to community activist Francisco Moya, 67 percent to 33 percent.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) held on to her seat with no problem, easily defeating retired cancer researcher and former Holly Civic Association President Isaac Sasson and Oakland Gardens attorney John Messer, 45 percent to 34 percent to 20 percent.

In a surprise, Tea Party candidate and Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino roundly defeated former Long Island congressman Rick Lazio in the Republican primary for governor, 63 percent to 37 percent.

In one of the most contentious races in the borough, state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) easily held on to her seat, beating South Ozone Park real estate business owner Lynn Nunes, 70 percent to 30 percent.

Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven) trounced Community Education Council 24 President Nick Comaianni, 77 percent to 23 percent.

His colleague, Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona) had no trouble hanging on to his seat, beating retired police officer Anthony Miranda, 63 percent to 37 percent.

Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) beat Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich in a rematch of a special election from February, 70 percent to 30 percent.

Also coasting to victory were Assembly members Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village).

Both House members from Queens who had primary opponents – U.S. Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) and Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) – were victorious in their contests.

Maloney will face Republican David Brumberg, who won a three-way primary, in the general election while Ackerman will be opposed in November by Republican Dr. James Milano, who defeated Great Neck attorney Liz Berney.

In the five-way Democratic primary for state attorney general, state Sen. Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan) defeated Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, 34 percent to 31 percent. No other candidate in the crowded field had more than 16 percent.

While incumbents and establishment candidates had no struggles, the same could not be said for voters, who had difficulty figuring out new paper ballot and electronic marking devices to cast their votes.

At PS 91 in Glendale, one elderly voter struggled for at least 30 minutes. It was unclear whether he eventually got his votes to be recorded.

Joseph Mammarino, a poll coordinator at PS 88 in Ridgewood, said the start of the day did not go off without a hitch.

“It was a little bit of chaos in the morning, being brand new,” he said of the machines. “But the Board of Elections helped us out. It’s running beautifully right now. Everybody knows what to do.”

But Theresa Renz, the other poll coordinator at PS 88, said some voters had a hard time.

“A lot of people coming, they don’t know what to do,” she said.

Joanna Chiaramonte, a poll coordinator at PS 91, said “a lot of people” did not like the new machines, complaining that the print was too small on the paper ballot.

Even though magnifying glasses were provided, Chiaramonte said, most voters decided not to use them.

It was not just the new machines that caused problems in Queens.

State Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village), who was involved in a primary with Clyde Vanel, said Andrew Jackson HS did not have enough poll workers and she was working on finding volunteers to step in.

A Bellerose voter looking to cast a ballot for Clark said he was unable to because someone else had already signed his name when he went to vote at St. Gregory the Great Church.

In Jackson Heights, poll coordinator Maria Faro said some voting machines were without lights in the morning at Renaissance Charter School, making it difficult for voters to read the candidates’ names on the ballot.

Turnout across the borough was light.

“It’s kind of slow. It’s not too busy right now. It might pick up when the evening comes around,” said Leola Wayne, poll coordinator at The Taiwan Center in Flushing.

Wayne said the poll site had Korean, Chinese and Spanish interpreters.

“And so far I haven’t heard anyone complain or anything and everyone’s been able to understand,” she said. “Poll workers have been very good at helping people to understand.”

The TimesLedger reporting staff contributed to this article.

Updated 6:20 pm, October 10, 2011
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