The 38-year Weprin legacy in the state Assembly will reach a 39th year after former City Councilman David Weprin soundly defeated Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich in a special election Tuesday, according to preliminary results from the city Board of Elections.
The special election was held to fill the vacancy left by current City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), David’s brother.
Mark Weprin held the seat for 15 years %u2013ndash; from 1994 to 2009. Prior to that, former Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, the brothers’ father,occupied the post from 1971 to 1994.
With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, David Weprin received 61.9 percent of the vote to Friedrich’s 38.1 percent, according to Board of Elections spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez-Rivera.
“I won because I didn’t run away from my family history of public service,” David Weprin said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “My father taught us it [politics] was a noble profession.”
Neither Friedrich nor his campaign spokesman could immediately be reached for comment.
As of 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, David Weprin said he had not received a congratulatory call from Friedrich.
About 7,000 votes were cast in the special election.
Turnout in special elections is markedly lower than general contests, but one of the bright spots in terms of turnout was at PS 115 in Floral Park, where poll worker Bruno DeFranceschi said between 80 and 100 voters cast ballots before 10:30 a.m.
“That’s not too bad for an off-election like this,” DeFrancecschi said.
Voters interviewed at PS 115 said they voted for Friedrich for the way he ran in the race.
“I think he put a lot into his campaign,” said Floral Park resident Mike McMahon. “He did make a personal call to the house. I think he deserves a crack” at the state Assembly.
Another PS 115 voter who asked not to be named but cast a ballot for Friedrich said the candidate’s personal touch won him their vote.
“He came to our house. He’s a nice guy. I like the guy who would care to talk to us,” the voter said.
A Floral Park resident who only wanted to be identified by her first name, Helen, also voted for Friedrich.
“He lives in the area. He’s very concerned about our area and I would like to see a change of the Weprins,” Helen said. “I also don’t like dynasties.”
At MS 172 in Floral Park, 46 voters had cast ballots as of 12:30 p.m., according to poll workers.
A voter who asked not to be identified said he cast a ballot for David Weprin.
“I always vote for the Democrat,” he said.
Turnout was light at Christ Lutheran Church on 73rd Avenue in Fresh Meadows, where a Republican inspector said 47 people had voted as of noon.
Fresh Meadows resident Muriel Schimmel said she voted for Weprin.
“His whole family devotes themselves to the neighborhood,” she said. “I was happy to come out and vote for him.”
At Hillcrest Jewish Center on Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows, 30 voters cast ballots by noon, Republican inspector John Morena said.
Fresh Meadows resident Anita White said she had been a longtime supporter of David Weprin.
“I thought he stood for the right issues,” she said.
The election was held five days after a controversial mailer sent by the Weprin campaign reached mailboxes in the 24th Assembly District.
The mailer accused Friedrich of opposing hate crime legislation and featured a photo of two police officers standing behind a crime scene with a spray-painted swastika in the middle of the picture.
A contentious debate between the candidates was held Feb. 1 at the Queens High School of Teaching in Glen Oaks.
Friedrich criticized David Weprin for voting for tax increases, while Weprin defended his votes, saying they came when the city was in financial dire straits following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile,David Weprin targeted Friedrich for being a registered Democrat and running for the Assembly on the Republican line.
Anna Gustafson contributed reporting.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2010 Community News Group
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