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Queens Chronicle

Shafran ends race; loses by 193 votes

Frontrunner Paul Vallone will face Republican in November election

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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:43 am, Thu Sep 26, 2013.

Austin Shafran, who came in second last week among five Democratic candidates running for the District 19 City Council seat, announced Wednesday he is not going to contest the primary results.

“We’re very proud of the campaign we ran to improve the quality of life for our community. I’m honored by the support we received and will continue to be a strong voice and relentless advocate for working families across the city,” Shafran said.

The tally on paper and absentee ballots was completed on Monday. The unofficial count from the Board of Elections has Shafran losing to frontrunner Paul Vallone by 193 votes. Vallone actually distanced himself further from Shafran following last week’s primary, when he was leading by only 144 votes.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Vallone said the primary win was something “we always hoped for and I’m very excited.”

The highly contentious race pitted Vallone, who was endorsed by the county Democrats, against Shafran, Paul Graziano, John Duane and Chrissy Voskerichian. The four accused Vallone of allowing a New York real estate group to send out erroneous mailers about them, although Duane was not mentioned in the fliers.

The group, Jobs for New York, spent an estimated $500,000 on Vallone’s campaign, including close to $50,000 on the spurious fliers.

Vallone said he focuses on issues and does not work with outside groups such as Jobs for NY. “We can’t control what they do, but I’m never for overdevelopment. I want to preserve the quality of life.”

Shafran, who was a first-time candidate, previously worked for the governor as a spokesman for the Empire State Economic Development agency. He said Wednesday he will regroup and look for a new job.

“It was a longshot that I would win, but we wanted to wait and see until everything was counted,” Shafran said. “It was hard to make up the difference with only 500 ballots ruled valid.”

The large number of candidates that split the vote and the amount of money spent on Vallone’s campaign hurt Shafran’s campaign, he noted.

Vallone’s father, Peter Vallone, at one time served as Council speaker, and his brother, Peter Vallone Jr., is a sitting councilman from Astoria. Peter Vallone Jr. is term-limited out of office and ran unsuccessfully for borough president against fellow Democrat Melinda Katz.

Paul Vallone will face Republican Dennis Saffran in the November election. The seat is being vacated by Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), who decided not to run for re-election following his arrest on federal bribery charges. He faces trial next year.

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