We congratulate all the winners of Tuesday’s primaries. Many are de facto winners of the general election because they have no opponent in the other party, which underscores the importance of primaries.
Not every race went the way we had hoped, as regular readers of this page know. But winners and losers alike fought hard, and, for the most part, over substantive issues.
Here in Queens, we especially look forward to the race between Melinda Katz, the Democratic nominee for borough president, and Tony Arcabascio, her Republican challenger. The borough faces some significant challenges — as does the rest of the city, but this isn’t the Bronx Chronicle you’re reading. The next BP needs to address them.
New schools are being built, but not fast enough, it seems, as Queens still has the most overcrowded ones in the city. Development, in Western Queens in particular but also elsewhere, continues apace, and the borough president must ensure that the proper infrastructure, especially schools, is in place to handle new residents.
The soccer stadium plan for Flushing Meadows Corona Park has been defeated by public opposition, but the next borough president must work to protect our crown jewel because if history is any guide, someone will propose some other monstrosity there in the future.
And it would be great if, as the 50th Anniversary of the park’s second World’s Fair approaches, the next borough president took the lead in finally making a serious effort to restore and repurpose the State Pavilion, whose decay is an embarrassment to the entire city. As of now, that role is being taken on by a teacher and amateur filmmaker from Long Island. He needs partners in government, and the Queens borough president should be first in line.
Katz — who’ll almost certainly win — has considerable governmental experience, while Arcabascio comes from the private sector. It’ll be interesting to contrast their respective platforms over the next two months until Election Day.
At least we already know that it’ll be Katz vs. Arcabascio in November. Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew who will be the Democratic nominee for mayor, taking on Republican Joe Lhota? Unfortunately we don’t, because Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is hovering right around 40 percent as ballots continue to be tallied, and that’s the magic number for a runoff. A fraction below 40 percent, and he’ll face former Comptroller Bill Thompson on Oct. 1. A fraction above 40 percent, and the nomination is de Blasio’s. To save money, time and angst, maybe the city should seriously consider instant runoff voting, which works well elsewhere.
Of course, that means the Board of Elections would have to implement it, and given its history of problems, that might take a while. On Tuesday there were voters who were told there were no primaries in their districts, even though there were citywide races in both major parties. The board had to drag out the old lever voting machines because it knew it couldn’t tally the votes fast enough on the new optical scanners. Of course, some of the machines didn’t work. Can we at least pick a system and fix it?
The primaries had some interesting elements. All three candidates trying to make a comeback after sex scandals cost them their last offices — Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and Vito Lopez — were defeated. Weiner won a larger share of the Catholic vote than the Jewish vote. De Blasio beat Thompson in Harlem and Christine Quinn in Chelsea, her home district. More such tidbits will no doubt be revealed in coming days.
Whether you voted Tuesday or not, be sure to do so in November. Our system doesn’t work right without you.