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Polling sites back in LeFrak City to delight of voters

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Robert Holden, the civic leader running for City Council as a Republican in the Maspeth-Middle Village neighborhood, casts his ballot at Maspeth High School.
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Council member Elizabeth Crowley and her son, Owen, cast ballots at PS 113 around the corner from her home in Glendale.
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In the most contentious race of the election, Council member Elizabeth Crowley (in purple) and her chief rival, Robert Holden (c), greeting voters outside PS 49.
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Democratic City Council candidate Mike Scala gets his ballot at PS 146 in Howard Beach.
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Voters get this sticker when leaving the polling station.
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Early on Election Day, turnout in Bellerose is significant.
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All 14 City Council seats in Queens are up for re-election today, as is Mayor De Blasio. A controversial referendum to call a state Constitutional Convention is on the ballot as well.
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In Lefrak City, the huge housing complex in Elmhurst, a poll worker handles voters questions at one of the polling spots that was closed by election officials, then re-opened under court order.

Polling sites back in LeFrak City to delight of voters

LeFrak City voters were thrilled to have their polling sites back in The Continental Room Tuesday, where they have voted for more than 50 years. Last week, an appellate court judge denied an appeal for a stay on a lower court ruling the week before and ordered the city Board of Election to return four of LeFrak’s City’s precincts in time for Election Day.

“I could actually here people cheering in different parts of the complex when they heard the news that we were getting them back,” said Robert Grant, a LeFrak City resident since 1974, said. “People roll out of bed and vote in their pajamas. They’re very comfortable doing that because they’re home.”

Before the Primary election in September, the BOE decided to move the five election districts to other locations because The Continental Room was not compliant with federal handicapped-accessible laws. LeFrak City was seen as a hotbed of support for controversial candidate Hiram Monserrate in his primary race against state Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) to replace retiring City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst). Moya won with 56 perent of the vote to Monserrate’s 44 percent.

“It was very disruptive. We lost half of our voters because people didn’t want to walk nearly a mile to vote at the new locations,” Grant said. “”I’m sure Mr. Monserrate will file a lawsuit because I’m sure he feels he lost the primary because of that. Folks claim Mr. Monserrate did a lot for LeFrak residents when he was in the state Senate and City Council. He promised a lot, though I can’t say he came through on everything.”

He added, “Mr. Moya wasn’t as well-known as Mr. Monserrate.”

Nearly 350 people had voted in The Continental Room by midday.

“It’s the same as it always was before they moved it,” Precinct Coordinator L. Biggs said.

Grant agreed saying everyone was happy to have the polling site back in the basement community room, even if it is not ADA compliant.

“The place isn’t perfect. It’s too small and in major elections it gets very crowded in here and the lines stretch down the block,” Grant said. “But the people are pleased the sites are back and they hope they stay.”

--- Bill Parry

Voters confused over where to cast their ballots at PS 80 in Rochdale Village

Hundreds of voters turned out in the gray morning and early afternoon to vote at PS 80 in Rochdale Village. Mostly middle-aged adults made up the 1,094 voters at the school, according to poll workers. About 20 people came as early as 6 a.m. to vote. However, there was confusion among voters as to where their voting site was because of construction at another local school, PS 354, which was previously called PS 30. Inspector Inez Lewis said there was construction at PS 354 and many voters assumed they had to go to PS 80 as an alternative.

Lewis believes the confusion could have been prevented if more voters had remembered to hold on to their voter card.

“The people need to be told to bring those cards, because they don’t know where to go,” Lewis said.

--- Naeisha Rose

Springfield Gds. cabbie opposes Constitutional Convention

Ibrahim Bhuiyan, 33, a cab driver who lives in Springfield Gardens is voting No on a Constitutional Convention to change New York state’s charter.

He has spent time weighing the pros and cons, but does not believe the possible progress that could be made with a convention is worth the $300 million price tag, which will be levied on taxpayers if it goes through.

“We don’t know what it’s going to do,” Bhuiyan said. “They say it’s going to do this, this and this, but when the law passes nobody cares about those things.”

The cab driver also fears that if the convention is held, it might not even go far enough in its promises for better education and women rights.

“It doesn’t make sense to spend all this money if there are little changes and they don’t go all the way,” Bhuiyan said.

He would rather have the roads in Springfield Gardens fixed before another snowstorm arrives and more crossing lights installed near his block because he frequently sees little children struggle to cross the street near the preschool by him on 175th Street and 137th Avenue.

“ I would rather we go through the slower [legislative] process than for it to cost us a lot of money.”

--- Naeisha Rose

Voting strong in Bellerose over mayoral race, Constitutional Convention

The turnout at PS 186 in Bellerose, where Republican candidate Joe Concannon faced City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), was strong and steady, the poll site coordinator Deborah Dolelocal said. The count had reached about 650 voters by 1 p.m., a welcome contrast to the Democratic primary when the site saw a total of 400 for the entire day.

Curtis Wahra said the main issue bringing him to the polls was his opposition to the mayor. He does not approve of Bill de Blasio’s policies and was strongly against what he viewed as disregard for the police, citing the time the incumbent went to Germany in the wake of the assassination of an NYPD officer instead of attending the funeral.

Joe Gavin said the Constitutional Convention brought him because out he believed it put people’s pensions on the firing line.

“People work all their lives and we’re going to give them access to the pensions? No way,” Gavin said after voting against de Blasio for re-election.

--- Mark Hallum

Contentious race between Crowley and Holden for City Council spurs voting

Voters are streaming to the polls to vote in a bitter race between City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) and civic leader Robert Holden to represent District 30, which covers Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood and Woodhaven.

Holden, the longtime leader of the Juniper Valley Civic Association, arrived at Maspeth High School to vote with his 93-year-old morher Anne, and he was relieved that the grueling campaign has come to a close.

“It’s been too long and it’s great that it’s ending. It was grueling, nasty and dirty and I was very diappointed in my opponent attacking me the way she ran,” Holden said. “It shows the machine is not going to let go of power without going into the gutter.”

Crowley defeated Holden by 25 points during the Democratic primary, but he was given a place in the Republican Party line last month, something she has called a bait and switch. Crowley voted at PS 113 in Glendale and headed over to PS 49 in Middle Village.

“I like to focus on the issues and that’s what I’ve been doing. That is what I’m focused on — not ugly, dirty fear-mongering,” Crowley said. “I’m getting a great response even in this more conservative part of the district. People know my record and they’re grateful for the work I’ve done in they council and they want me to go back for four more years.”

--- Bill Parry

The elderly arrive on stretchers to vote in Queens Village

Between 6 a.m. and noon Tuesday about 750 people came in the bitter cold in Queens Village to vote at PS 34. There were many elderly voters, arriving on stretchers or brandishing canes, as well as 30-something parents with their kids, people heading to work and workers coming off the twilight shift.

Around 10 diehard voters were lined up at 5:50 a.m., according to poll booth coordinator Mari-Yan Pringle. There were only a handful of 20-years-olds who voted in the first hours, according to the veteran poll booth coordinator with 11 years on the job. The number of voters started to increase between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Pringle expects the flow of voters to increase by 6 p.m .when more young adults and working adults leave work.

“The elderly often come early to avoid the cold and dark,” Pringle said.

--- Naeisha Rose

Voter turnout surprisingly strong in Howard Beach for the Ulrich/Scala race.

Voters were turning out in decent numbers at PS 146 in Howard Beach for the race pitting Democratic challenger Michael Scala against Republican City Councilman Eric Ulrich. Poll workers said voter turnout has been steady with more people showing up as the day progressed.

Joe Catapano, a Howard Beach resident, said turnout so far has been amazing compared to the primaries, which he said were awful. Catapano said he believes the turnout might be due to residents’ disappointment with Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Trump.

“It’s brought out people who usually wouldn’t vote,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like it, but it’s actually very encouraging. People are worried so they’re voting.”

One couple cast their vote for incumbent Ulrich, who they said has been very approachable and helpful. Their main concern was crime in the neighborhood, which they think has increased. They were confident the Republican candidate would have a second term.

Democratic candidate Michael Scala showed up at noon and cast his vote. He said he feels good about winning and that finally getting to Election Day has been a relief after all the hard work he put into his campaign.

“Win or lose we’re proud of the work we’ve done,” he said. “God willing we win tonight. We have a lot we want to accomplish and I’m confident the voters realize that it’s time for a change.”

--- Gina Martinez

Baysiders vote on Constitutional Convention proposition

David Masconi voted at PS 46 in Bayside the interest of getting his say in on the Constitutional Convention. The former government employee said it was a precarious issue worth reviewing and voting on.

The Oakland Gardens resident would not hint at his political leanings, but said he believed there were serious candidates on both sides of the aisle as well as the mayoral race worth turning out for.

By 11 a.m. the poll site had seen about 280 voters, according to the coordinator, and residents ambled in at a steady rate.

The major issue driving Linda Herman to the polls at PS 46 was the Constitutional Convention. As a former teacher, the threat that pensions could be endangered bothered her enough that she voted against it.

“You know, I just don’t see the purpose,” she said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio deserved a second term, she said, although she was not strongly for or against his Republican challenger, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis.

--- Mark Hallum

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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