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Queens Chronicle

A council race goes to the wire

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Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2009 12:00 am

The race for the 31st District City Council seat held by Tom White Jr. is going down to the wire.

Just six votes separated White from his top challenger, real estate broker Lynn Nunes, when the polls closed at 9 p.m. Tuesday night, according to preliminary Board of Elections results. White was ahead of Nunes with 1,849 votes compared to the challenger’s 1,843. The other candidates were far behind: Allan Jennings garnered 942 votes, while Ruben Wills had 537, Robert Hogan had 379 and Stephen Jones had 265.

But it’s not a recount situation between White and Nunes —at least not yet. That’s because absentee ballots have yet to be counted, which is why as far as Nunes is concerned, it’s still “anyone’s race.”

White’s office did not return a call for comment by press time. Nunes was optimistic about his chances of defeating the incumbent when reached Wednesday morning.

“We still have to count the absentees — it’s anyone’s race,” he said. “We’re a tenth of a percent away. We’ve got our own Padavan-Gennaro thing going on here.”

Last year the race between state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and his challenger, Councilman James Gennaro (Fresh Meadows) was so close that it took months to determine that Padavan had retained his seat. The numbers in the White-Nunes contest are far closer.

“Six votes is essentially tied,” Nunes said. “New York 1 called it a tie. If one household comes out, it could change the outcome of this election.

“A lot of people feel disenfranchised, think their vote doesn’t count,” he continued. “But I want to use this race as an example. Your vote could put someone into office or take someone out of office.”

Nunes had not yet found out from the city Board of Elections how long it will take to tabulate the absentee ballots. Unless either side forces a recount, a definite possibility in a race so close, the board will certify the primary results then and declare a winner. Whoever comes out on top is all but guaranteed to be the district’s next councilman, as there is no Republican challenger in the district.

“I’m feeling great, I’m optimistic, I’m hopeful, I’m saying my prayers,” Nunes said.

Nunes said that if elected, his first move — after taking a weekend off — will be to hold community meetings to see which issues are topmost in the minds of residents.

White ran on a platform of continuing to serve the district in a variety of ways, focusing on issues relating to seniors, substance abuse, economic development and more.

“I take great satisfaction in the fact that I have improved the quality of life in my district,” he said just before the primary. “I think my involvement has made a difference and I believe my record shows that.”

Other City Council primaries in the southeastern Queens region resulted in far less drama and far more certainty.

Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) retained the Democratic nomination for the 27th District, handily defeating challenger Clyde Vanel by 5,393 votes to 3,242 [see separate story].

And Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) trounced a large field of challengers, drawing 3,071 votes compared to 1,662 for Jacques Leandre, 1,078 for Michael Duncan, 930 for Marquez Claxton, 475 for Frederick Lewis and 439 for Lou Grays.

Sanders will face Republican nominee Scherie Murray on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Welcome to the discussion.