Former councilwoman Melinda Katz pulled out a win in Tuesday night’s Democratic primary for Queens borough president.
Unofficial results from the Board of Elections show her ahead of Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) by 10 percentage points — 44 percent to 34 percent.
Real estate developer Everly Brown received about 13 percent of the vote and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who officially dropped out of the election last month though the BOE said it was too late to take his name off the ballot, received 9 percent.
“It’s a very hard-fought victory,” said Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels and Katz’s partner. “She had a lot of adversaries. You’re talking about as much competition as if it was the mayoral field. So Queens benefited from that. She out-gutted them and naturally against an institution: the Vallone name.”
Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) and former Assemblyman and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik ran for the position earlier in the election season.
“A lot of people would be voting for Peter Vallone Jr., but thinking of his father too, so she had that to overcome,” Sliwa said. “Tremendous show.”
“It’s wonderful we’re all together,” Borough President Helen Marshall, who has served the maximum amount of time allowed in the position, said at Katz’s election party at the Flying Pig in Forest Hills. “Everybody in this room loves Queens. And many here have different positions, no matter what it is, we’re all together, and that’s so important. We’re all Democrats.”
In Astoria at Studio Square a full crowd in support of Vallone watched as the precincts began reporting results. Some suggested that Avella remaining on the ballot took some of the Vallone vote because of their Italian ties and though their viewpoints differ they both practice a less mainstream tactic, both described as mavericks who speak their minds.
At about 10:30 p.m. people began to say “This isn’t looking good.”
At 11:10 p.m. the councilman arrived at his party after calling Katz to concede. His father, former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., introduced his son.
“He never denied his principles,” Vallone Sr. said. “Here’s one of the great winners of all time.”
Vallone Jr. took the stage thanking his family, staff, friends and street team.
“We took on the world,” Vallone said, referencing Katz’s Democratic Party endorsement and strong backing from other politicians, “and scared the heck out of the them.
“We started this campaign as a strong, independent voice for Queens and we’re not going to stop that,” he said.
The councilman has represented Astoria for 12 years, the maximum allowed time with term limits. He is the chairman of the Public Safety Committee.
Costa Constantinides, the deputy chief of staff for Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), beat two Democratic candidates in the primary for Vallone’s City Council seat. He will face Republican Daniel Peterson and several third-party candidates in November.
Katz will face Republican Tony Arcabascio in November.