Kevin Kim pulls out surprise Council win

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In a surprise upset, Kevin Kim defeated presumed frontrunner Jerry Iannece and four other Democratic opponents in the primary election Tuesday in the race to replace City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside). Kim will now face off against Republican Dan Halloran in November.

Kim, who is deputy director of community affairs for U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), won the Democratic slot for the Nov. 3 election with 30 percent of the vote.

“I’ve been talking about representing everyone in the district and tonight’s results proved that,” said Kim, whose campaign office on Northern Boulevard was flooded Tuesday night with several hundred supporters. “This is an exciting opportunity to work hard on behalf of people who are concerned about public safety, education, public transportation and fighting overdevelo­pment.”

Iannece, the Community Board 11 chairman, took 24 percent of the vote, while Flushing attorney Paul Vallone, son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother of Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), took 22 percent, according to unofficials from the Board of Elections.

Bayside attorney Steve Behar, Avella’s pick for the seat, received 9 percent of the vote, while Tom Cooke, a disabled veteran from Flushing who serves as board chairman of the nonprofit United Spinal Association received 7 percent and Debra Markell, district manager of Long Island City’s Community Board 2, got 5 percent

Kim will now run against Halloran, an attorney who has been endorsed by the Queens County Republican Party, in November.

During his Democratic primary campaign, Kim said the key issues on which he would focus as councilman would be fighting overdevelopment in northeast Queens, alleviating overcrowded classrooms at district schools and creating relationships between the public and private sectors to make community improvements amid the current economic downturn.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bayside residents at the polls were split over the best candidate. Bessy Pissalidis said she cast her vote at Bayside’s PS 41 for Iannece.

“In general terms, I think he’s the best of the candidates because of his experience and the fact that he was endorsed by the teachers [union],” she said.

But Ward Williams voted for Kim at Bayside’s MS 158.

“I like Kim,” he said. “I don’t see what the rest of the guys in the race are doing so much. I don’t vote for the party.”

Poll workers at MS 158 said morning turnout had been low, with less than 10 people having voted before 11 a.m. But poll workers at PS 41 said 80 voters had shown up at the school during that same amount of time.

Avella, first elected to the Council in 2001, was defeated in the Democratic primary for mayor by city Comptroller William Thompson, who captured70 percent of the vote. Avella received 21 percent.

District 19 covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, College Point, Whitestone, East Flushing, Malba, Auburndale, Oakland Gardens and Bay Terrace.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:29 pm, October 10, 2011
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