Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) scored a decisive victory on Tuesday as she earned her first full term representing District 30 at City Hall.
For the second time in a year, Crowley defied nearly two decades of Republican dominance as she handily defeated former councilman Tom Ognibene with 59.4 percent of the vote.
In announcing the win, the Democrat heaped thanks on her supporters gathered at the Woodhaven House in Middle Village.
“I wouldn’t be standing here today as the current and future councilmember if it wasn’t for everyone in this room,” Crowley said to the boisterous crowd.
Crowley’s win came as her critics became increasingly desperate — circulating phony fliers appealing to the mostly middle-class white community’s worst instincts.
One document, which falsely claimed to be from Crowley’s campaign, depicted Gov. David Paterson making a bizarre appeal to black voters.
“Fellow Black Americans: on November 3, 2009, please vote for Elizabeth Crowley,” the flier read. “She will make sure that we get our New York City Services.”
While Ognibene brought political philosophy to the front of his campaign — promising to fight for lower taxes and smaller government and frequently touts his newfound friendship with Mayor Mike Bloomberg — Crowley largely avoided partisan issues by sticking to the center and highlighting her brief but fruitful tenure as a breadwinner for the district.
Crowley took credit for finalizing the long-awaited rezoning of Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale — a process she said was stalled after the Dennis Gallagher sex scandal.
“A study was started over eight years ago and almost completed four years ago, but it sat on desks without moving forward at the Department of City Planning,” Crowley said. “Part of that was due to poor leadership.”
The new zoning law downsized building regulations on nearly 300 residential blocks across the three neighborhoods — a critical effort to preserve the character of these middle-class communities, according to Crowley.
“In record amount of time we were able to pass legislation to rezone more than 300 blocks,” she said. “The need for this rezoning was so evident in the overdevelopment that was putting our community in a situation that affected our quality of life and compromised the continuity and the very aesthetic that make up the low-density communities that I represent.”
True to her roots in architecture and urban planning — Crowley believes that doing more to remove aesthetic blights will help her district weather the recession. She pointed to recent efforts to reclaim a deteriorating Ridgewood newsstand and convert it into a green space as a small but important step toward making the community more attractive to businesses and consumers alike.
“I think it’s an investment, a partnership — making sure they have a vital business improvement district. It’s the businesses and the city working together to make sure they maximize resources,” Crowley said. “Whatever it takes to improve a district so that people would want to come to spend their money there.”
Crowley also boasted of efforts to remove truck traffic on Grand Avenue — a source of frustration for many area residents. She said that work is already underway to reinforce an alternate route that would limit commercial traffic on the congested street.
“DOT has pretty much promised me,” Crowley said. “They just need to strengthen one small street near Maurice Avenue.”
Crowley was first elected in January, defeating former councilman Anthony Como, serving for the final year of Gallagher’s original term.