Feb. 1, 2021 By Allie Griffin
The special election for 24th City Council District in Queens will go on as planned Tuesday despite the massive snow storm bringing the city to a near halt.
“With thousands of New Yorkers having already cast their ballots during early voting, tomorrow’s special election in Queens is still on!” said Jose Bayona, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office. “Polls open at 6 a.m. and our plows are making extra rounds near polling sites tonight.”
The snowstorm has been wreaking havoc on the city just as one candidate received a major endorsement today and recent public filings reveal an influx of real estate money in the race.
Progressive activist Moumita Ahmed earned the backing of former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders Monday for the 24th District seat, which covers Kew Gardens Hills, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Pomonok, Jamaica Hills and Briarwood.
“I’m endorsing Moumita Ahmed because she understands that working class New Yorkers from diverse backgrounds built this city, and that we need leaders on the City Council who will always put them before the interests of the wealthy and the powerful,” Sanders said in a statement.
Ahmed — who volunteered for the Sanders campaign and has a tattoo of the Vermont senator’s face — said she was honored to have the senator’s endorsement.
“We are so humbled and proud to have @BernieSanders join our working-class coalition as we battle the billionaire real estate developers trying to derail our campaign for housing justice,” she wrote on Twitter. “His support will definitely help us tomorrow as our organizers work to turn out immigrant voters — who have suffered so much during this pandemic — during this blizzard.”
In her tweet, Ahmed alluded to the mailers sent to District 24 homes attacking her. The ads were paid for by Common Sense NYC — a new independent expenditure committee that has taken a $1 million donation from billionaire real estate developer Stephen Ross.
Public filings reported over the past week show that Common Sense NYC has spent more than $206,000 on the special election.
The committee spent $81,817 on four mailers and one print ad attacking Ahmed, according to the NYC Campaign Finance Board.
The pamphlets denounce Ahmed’s progressive policies — such as her plan to cut the NYPD budget — and past tweets on the Israel Palestine conflict.
Meanwhile, Common Sense NYC also spent $107,326.51 on three mailers, three radio ads, two print ads, a phone call campaign and sweatshirts supporting candidate James Gennaro, who previously held the D-24 Council seat for three terms until 2013.
Common Sense NYC also paid $17,695 for a mailer supporting another candidate in the race, attorney and President of the Queens County Women’s Bar Association Soma Syed.
The winner of the nonpartisan special election will finish Lancman’s term that is set to end on Dec. 31, 2021. Lancman resigned from the City Council on Nov. 4 to take a position within Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration.
Other candidates in the running include small business owner and community organizer Deepti Sharma; New York’s first Indian-American female Democratic District Leader Neeta Jain; healthcare executive Dilip Nath, who previously ran for the seat; “conservative” Democrat Mujib Rahman and real estate broker Michael Earl Brown.
The special election is the first test of the city’s new ranked-choice voting ballot.