Officials from the city Board of Elections began tallying absentee ballots Wednesday in the race between two-term City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) and her challenger, Robert Holden,who led by 133 votes and declared victory Election Night. Crowley refused to concede, saying she would wait until all of the votes were counted.
Crowley had easily defeated Holden 64 percent to 36 percent in the Democratic primary in September, but Holden was given the Republican Party line by the Queens GOP despite the fact that the civic leader has been a registered Democrat for 44 years. Holden also ran on the Reform, Conservative and Dump de Blasio lines.
BOE officials began opening, inspecting and then recording each of the 455 absentee ballots under the watchful eyes of two attorneys from each campaign. TimesLedger learned from sources close to the proceedings that Holden’s margin held up. The BOE had yet to make an official confirmation.
The Crowley campaign declined to comment ahead of the final result, but Holden had plenty to say during a phone interview with TimesLedger as the ballots were being counted.
“I told my team I don’t want any updates. I just want to know the final result, but I feel confident knowing I have a lead of 133 votes as opposed to trailing by 133 votes,” Holden said. “I just want to know if I’m going to be sitting in the City Council or sitting on some nice beach somewhere. Whatever happens I can’t control. All I know is I did the best I could and I had great volunteers and met really great people during the campaign.”
Holden, 66, the longtime president of the Juniper Park Civic Association and a vociferous Crowley critic, had very little to say about his opponent in the race. He instead reacted to post-election comments abut the race from Mayor Bill de Blasio. Speaking to reporters about Holden last week, de Blasio said “he’s obviously a Republican and we don’t share values and I’ll try to work with him, although I suspect we won’t see eye to eye on most issues.”
Holden agreed the two men don’t share the same values.
“This mayor wants a one party socialist Marxist regime and anyone who thinks differently than him is the enemy,” Holden said. “He judges people based on labels and that is something he should be against. Instead he bad mouths the Republican Party as no good and that’s the type of approach that put this country in such a divisive mess. Did I run on the Republican line? Yeah. Am I a registered Democrat? Yeah, but the bottom line is I’m apolitical. I’m a civic leader and I’m going to work with anyone that can help my community and my constituents.”
Holden took umbrage at a second comment the mayor made about him during that same City Hall press conference.
“I don’t understand Democrats who’d run as a Republican,” de Blasio said. “So if you can run as a Republican in Donald Trump’s America, you just bought the whole label. I don’t know the guy. I’ll try and work with him, but he just signed up for something very troubling in my book.”
“There he goes with the labels. And he doesn’t know me? Then why did he try so hard to get a picture with me when I was honored at the 2012 Queens Civic Congress when he was the public advocate trying to give me a proclamation?” Holden asked. “For him to jump to conclusions about who I am, that’s just wrong.”
Holden added the mayor was wrong to launch the 14.7 mile Select Bus Service route on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards Monday.
“It’s such a disaster. People are sitting in traffic jams for hours. It’s just another bad policy from this administration, and one of the reasons I got so many votes,” Holden said. “He wants to take away our cars, he doesn’t understand Queens at all. The traffic is crippling all over the borough and all we get is more bike lanes and more SBS lanes. The administration is taking away one of our basic rights — the freedom of movement — you can’t just get in your car and go anymore.”
If Holden is declared the winner, he is still unsure whether he will go to the City Council as a Republican or Democrat.
“I’m not even thinking about that,” he said. “It’s the furthest thing on my mind. I will likely caucus with whoever can do the most for my community and my constituents. That’s all I care about.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr
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