Former Gennaro legislative head dominates Astoria seat contest

Costa Constantinides celebrated with supporters after he learned he won the race for the 22nd City Council District. Photo by Bianca Fortis
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The Queens Democratic Party rolled up a win in Astoria after its anointed candidate, Costa Constantinides, dominated the primary with more than 50 percent of the vote and will now face-off against three challengers in the November election.

“This is not about me,” he said during his victory party at Raven’s Head pub. “This is about how we are going to meet the challenges ahead.”

The party-backed Constantinides netted 55.8 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary against Gus Prentzas and John Ciafone, who each garnered 22.1 percent, according to the Associated Press, with 96 percent of the precincts reporting.

Constantinides will now go on to face Independence Party candidate Danielle De Stefano, Republican Daniel Peterson and Green Party candidate Lynn Serpe in the November general election, though writer Gerald Kann had also been gathering signatures to get on the ballot to replace Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria).

Ourania Theoharakis said she voted for Constantinides because he was involved in schools.

“I’ve got five grandchild­ren,” she said.

At one point Tuesday, Constantinides was seen in Astoria campaigning with state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), who both endorsed his campaign.

The neighborhood was a tricky place for endorsements, however, showcasing the delicate balance lawmakers must keep between political alliances.

Gianaris and Simotas are both part of the Queens Democratic Party, which backed Constantinides.

But in the race for borough president, where Vallone lost to former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, the two state lawmakers bucked the party’s pick.

The Dems backed Katz, but Gianaris and Simotas supported Vallone, probably because the lawmaker is widely known in their overlapping districts.

Indeed, many voters interviewed by TimesLedger Newspapers Tuesday said they pulled the lever for Vallone in the borough president’s race.

But his popularity did not trickle down to the Council candidate he was most closely associated with before Constantin­ides’ victory.

Vallone did not endorse any Astoria candidates, but he appeared on at least one piece of mail sent out by Prentzas, which was also handed out by the Prentzas team Tuesday. On several street corners near polling sites, Vallone and Prentzas posters could be seen stapled to the same wooden posts, and a campaign worker wore a shirt indicating that Prentzas was the only candidate to endorse Vallone for borough president.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 12:00 am, September 14, 2013
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