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Queens Republicans Likely to Gain a Second Council Seat After Fear of Losing Borough Representation

Republicans Joann Ariola (left) and Vickie Paladino (right) won their respective Council races, pending official tallies (Photos courtesy of each campaign)

Nov. 3, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Queens Republicans had plenty to celebrate last night — much like Republicans across the nation.

The Republican party was in jeopardy of being without representation in the World’s Borough but will likely take two seats.

The GOP were able to hold onto their previously lone council seat and will likely pick up another in a surprise upset Tuesday night.

Republicans held onto the District 32 seat — currently held by term-limited Republican Eric Ulrich — and are on track to flip the District 19 seat, which is currently represented by term-limited Democrat Paul Vallone, after votes were tallied Tuesday night.

Democrats across the city had banded together in an effort to flip the District 32 seat. They rallied behind Felicia Singh, an Ozone Park resident and educator, in an attempt to turn the borough completely blue.

Despite their campaigning, Singh was comprehensively beaten by Republican Joann Ariola, chair of the Queens Republican Party.

Ariola took 67.48 percent of the vote, while Singh garnered 31.31 percent, according to unofficial Election Night results — with 99 percent of scanners reported.

The district represents Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Rockaway Park, Roxbury, South Ozone Park, West Hamilton Beach and Woodhaven.

Its residents are split politically largely along geographic boundaries.

The northern portion of the district, Ozone Park and surrounding neighborhoods, have large immigrant communities — including Latino, Indo-Caribbean and Punjabi populations — and mostly voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

The southern part of the district comprised of Broad Channel, Belle Harbor, Howard Beach, Rockaway Park and Breezy Point is majority white and voted heavily for former President Donald Trump.

The D-32 seat will continue to be represented by a Republican, despite the number of registered Democrats in the district being approximately three times that of registered Republicans.

Across the borough, the District 19 race was expected, by many, to be won by Democrat Tony Avella, who represented the district in the council from 2002 to 2009. Instead, the seat will likely be taken by Republican Vickie Paladino — effectively flipping it from blue to red.

Paladino brought in 49.72 percent of the vote, while Avella earned 42.95 percent in the tight race. A third conservative candidate, John-Alexander Sakelos took 7.08 percent.

Paladino leads Avella by 1,653 in-person votes. However, 2,208 absentee ballots — 1,610 of which were returned by registered Democrats — still need to be tallied. Some registered Democrats, however, may wind up voting for Paladino.

The D-19 seat has been represented by a Republican before. Republican Daniel Halloran held the seat from 2009 to 2013, before Vallone — the Democratic incumbent — was elected in 2013.

The district covers the neighborhoods of Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck, Malba and Whitestone. Many residents, particularly in Whitestone and College Point, voted for Trump in 2020.

Paladino, a civic leader and small business owner from Whitestone, made headlines when she led an unmasked conga line at the Whitestone Republican Club party last December.

Meanwhile, Avella is also not without controversy.

He held the same council seat until 2009 when he went on to serve in the State Senate. While in the senate, Avella joined the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) — a controversial break-away group that formed an alliance with Senate Republicans — which put him out of favor with the Democratic party. John Liu defeated him in 2018.

In another Queens council race, a Democratic incumbent who ran on the Democratic, Republican and Conservative party lines in his race picked up the most votes on the Republican line.

District 30 Council Member Robert Holden ran unopposed and listed his name on all three party lines.

Holden got the majority of his votes on the Republican line — with 53.59 percent compared to 38.24 percent as a Democrat.

It’s not the first time he has technically won as a Republican despite being a registered — albeit moderate — Democrat.

Holden ran on the Republican party line in 2017 to take the seat representing Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Woodhaven and Woodside from then-incumbent Elizabeth Crowley, a Democrat. Prior to his 2017 general election win, he had lost the Democratic primary to Crowley.

During this year’s primary, Holden held off progressive challenger Juan Ardila.

While Ridgewood leans left, the rest of the district tends to be more moderate. Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth residents largely voted for Trump in 2020.

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