31st CD votes Feb. 23 in special election 1

Candidates in Tuesday’s special election in the 31st Council District include, top row, Latoya Benjamin, left, Selvena Brooks-Powers, Latanya Collins and the Rev. Sherwyn James; second row, Nicole Lee, left, Nancy Martinez, Pesach Osina, Shawn Rux and Manny Silva. Polling places throughout the district are open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.

Voters in the 31st City Council District will go to the polls this coming Tuesday, Feb. 23, in a special election to fill the vacancy created when Donovan Richards was sworn in as borough president in December.

Nine candidates are vying for the office. The winner will have to run again in the general election in November, and possibly would face a primary in June.

This year voters will have the opportunity to list their preferred candidates by ranked choice, allowing them to select up to five candidates in the voter’s order of preference.

The district incudes all or parts of Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens. The polls will be open for in-person voting from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The candidates include:

• Latoya Benjamin, director of economic development for state Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park);

• Selvena Brooks-Powers, minority- and-women-owned business enterprise coordinator for the reconstruction of John F. Kennedy International Airport;

• educator Latanya Collins;

• the Rev. Sherwyn James, a Bethel African Methodist Episcopal minister;

• businesswoman Nicole Lee;

• healthcare entrepreneur Nancy Martinez;

• Pesach Osina, Queens borough director with the city Comptroller’s Office;

• Shawn Rux, assistant superintendent of School District 29 in Queens; and

• Manny Silva, who most recently served as Richards’ chief of staff on the City Council.

While the election is technically nonpartisan, Brooks-Powers has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau), who also is chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, as well as by Richards.

Osina has run before, finishing a close second to Richards back in 2013.

Among the issues debated in the campaign have been the need to make sure affordable housing is actually affordable to residents of the district.

Several candidates have mentioned the need to expand medical care in the Rockaways, where there is only one hospital and no trauma care facilities.

Several of the hopefuls favor cutting the NYPD’s budget to fund an array of social services.

All want to improve educational programming.

Few had specifics beyond cutting NYPD funding to deal with multibillion-dollar deficits projected in the city’s budget over the next few fiscal years.

Information on the location of polling sites is available online from the New York City Board of Elections website at bit.ly/37oY8dB.

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