Holden heads to City Council after defeating Crowley by 137 votes

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley concedes defeat to political newcomer Robert Holden, whose lead grew by four votes after absentee ballots and paper votes were counted Wednesday.
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One of the more incendiary political races in recent borough history came to a quiet close Thursday as two-term incumbent City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) conceded defeat to bitter rival Robert Holden. The political newcomer was declared the winner in District 30 by a slim margin of 137 votes after absentee ballots and paper votes were counted by the city Board of Election Wednesday.

“The last nine years have been some of the most rewarding and fulfilling of my entire life,” Crowley said in a statement. “I want to thank the communities of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven and Woodside for both believing in me and working together to make our communities better. It’s been a true honor.”

She did not mention Holden by name. The two had attacked each other often during the grueling campaign, most notably on Crowley’s support of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to close Rikers Island and replace it with community jails. Holden also accused Crowley of not doing enough when the city tried to convert the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express into a homeless shelter while Holden led nightly protests for months.

Crowley easily defeated Holden in the Democratic primary in September, but the Queens GOP gave him their Republican party line, which he ran on along with the Conservative, Reform and Dump de Blasio lines. The longtime president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, and frequent Crowley critic, declared victory on Election Night when Holden captured 10,221 votes to Crowley’s 10,088, but the councilwoman chose to fight, hoping a count of the absentee ballots and paper votes would pull her into the lead.

It did not, and now Holden, 66, is the councilman-elect.

“It sounds good to me. I still can’t believe it, I’m slapping myself,” Holden said in a phone interview at midday Thursday. “I’m getting phone calls from everyone. It’s been an insane morning. But I’ll tell you what — it feels good because I’m the victor, but it’s a real whirlwind.”

The BOE will certify Council District 30’s final result along with the rest of the city’s races Nov. 28.

“The results of this election will not change my commitment to public service,” Crowley continued. “I intend to spend the remaining weeks of my term in office working tirelessly on behalf of my constituents. Whatever the future holds, I will bring the same passion and dedication to fighting for our community that I brought to my work as a Council member.”

With Crowley in Holden’s rearview mirror on the road to City Hall, a different target of his criticism will soon be in close proximity, Mayor Bill de Blasio

In post-election comments to reporters, de Blasio said of Holden that “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 is 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 or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Updated 5:31 pm, November 16, 2017
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