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Avella on the verge of winning primary race for northeast Queens City Council seat after ranked-choice voting recount

Jul. 5, 2023 By Ethan Marshall

Tony Avella has declared victory for the Democratic nomination for the District 19 City Council seat after the city’s Board of Elections released unofficial results of its ranked-choice voting recount for the June 27 primary race, which has the former longtime politician leading by 123 votes.

The latest ballot, publicly released on July 5, shows Avella ahead of Christopher Bae with 2,865 votes (51.1%). Bae has 2,742 votes (48.9%), according to the unofficial results. There were also 402 inactive ballots reported. This round showed Bae close the gap in next choice ballots, as he received 556 to Avella’s 500. Still, Bae wasn’t able to close the gap enough.

“Firstly, I want to thank my primary opponents for running an incredible campaign,” Avella said. “Running for office isn’t easy, and it requires a lot of sacrifice. I salute them for stepping up and making their voices heard. I am deeply grateful to the voters of District 19 for their show of support and the trust placed in me and my candidacy.”

Once the ranked-choice voting process is complete — and all absentee ballots are counted — the BOE will certify the results and declare a winner, who will go on to face off against incumbent Councilwoman Vickie Paladino in the general election, scheduled to take place Nov. 7.

“While the results today are not what we hoped for, I want to thank the voters of the 19th Council District,” Bae said. “This was always an uphill battle. Knocking on over 51k doors strengthens our democracy during a time when many are doing just the opposite. I remain committed to fighting for a safer and stronger Queens.”

Avella has a long track record of experience in Queens politics. He served as the District 19 city councilman from 2002 to 2009 and was a state senator from 2011 to 2019.

“People love our neighborhoods because of the quality of life,” Avella said. “It’s a great place for seniors and a great place to raise a family. We need a Councilmember who prioritizes serving the community and fixing problems, not someone who promotes hateful rhetoric, attacks their colleagues and embarrasses our district in City Hall.”

Bae is a former prosecutor for the Queens District Attorney’s Office. In that role, he prosecuted violent felony offenses, securing convictions related to shootings, loaded firearms, stabbings, robberies and burglaries. His mother has a deep background in education, having worked as an educator for children with special needs. Bae also credits her participation as a union member with teaching him about the importance of organized labor.

Paul Graziano also appeared on the ballot and placed third. Graziano has founded or advised multiple civic and homeowner associations within District 19 and assisted in making Fort Totten into a public park and historic district rather than high-density luxury condominium towers.

District 19 covers much of northeast Queens, including Whitestone, College Point, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston and parts of north Flushing.

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