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Incumbents cruise to victory in western Queens Democratic primaries

Julie Won and Tiffany Cabán(Photos: NYC Council)

Incumbents Julie Won (l.) and Tiffany Cabán (r.) look set to retain their western Queens city council seats after scoring wide-margin victories in Tuesday’s Democratic primary (Photos: NYC Council)

June 28, 2023 By Michael Dorgan

Incumbents Julie Won and Tiffany Cabán look set to retain their western Queens city council seats after scoring wide-margin victories in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

The progressives, who were both seeking second terms coming into this election, easily brushed aside their only respective challengers.

Won, who faced a serious fight from Hailie Kim in the District 26 race, secured 61.08% of the vote with 98.97%of scanners reporting as of Wednesday morning. The 26th Council district covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and a portion of Astoria.

Cabán, meanwhile, trounced Charles Castro for a landslide win, having recorded 85.3% of the vote with 95.51% of scanners reporting. The 22nd Council district covers Astoria as well as sections of East Elmhurst, Woodside and Jackson Heights.

The results of both contests came as little surprise with the incumbents seen as hot favorites prior to the election.

In the District 26 race, Hailie Kim was hoping to pull off a long-shot win against Won. The race pitted two immigrants from South Korea against each other and was a drastic change to the 2021 contest where a crowded field of 15 candidates were on the ballot. Kim, an educator at CUNY-Hunter College, finished eighth in the 2021 primary.

Won’s campaign focused largely on her record since taking office in 2021, and she touted how she secured millions of dollars in city funding and resources for schools, parks, and community organizations in her district. Won said she has helped tackle the housing crisis by approving more than 1,600 units of affordable housing in her first year in office, while she also gave the green light for more than 1,400 affordable units to go up at the Innovation QNS site.

Part of Kim’s campaign was poking holes in Won’s record, including the incumbent’s vote for last year’s city budget which saw cuts to education. Kim also campaigned to increase education funding from 3-K to CUNY, fight for deeply affordable social housing, and press for lower property taxes for working-class families.

Kim conceded via Twitter at around 10:15 p.m. on Tuesday, while Won posted on the social media platform about 50 minutes later.

“I am so incredibly grateful to all the people of District 26 that continue to gift me again and again,” Won wrote. “We have accomplished so much together, and there is so much left to do. For tonight, we’ll pause here but know that the fight, for our schools, for our housing, is not over. Tomorrow we continue!”

In District 22, Cabán cruised to victory over Castro, a former New York City police sergeant.

Cabán retweeted a post by the Queens branch of the Democratic Socialists of America at around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday. The tweet contains a photograph of Cabán celebrating with her supporters, including Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas and state Senator Kristen Gonzalez.

“86%! That’s a Mandate!” the post reads. “A mandate for socialism, a mandate for abolition, a mandate for social housing, a mandate for secure jobs, a mandate for immigrant rights, a mandate for care NOT cuts!”

Cabán retweeted the post thanking her supporters and volunteers.

“Deep gratitude to everyone who knocked, called and voted!” Cabán wrote. “This is your victory! All the attacks, hate, threats, insults, and fearmongering couldn’t change the fact: District 22 believes that care and community, not cuffs and cages, keep us safe. Now let’s keep it moving.”

The race was a low-key one, with Cabán’s victory seen as a foregone conclusion. Castro was virtually invisible on social media.

Cabán vowed to maintain her staunch commitment to defunding and disbanding the NYPD, permanently closing Rikers Island, halting the construction of new jails, and embedding restorative practices into all city agencies.

She also supports the use of renewable energy sources to achieve a carbon-neutral New York City by 2030, opposing any projects that expand the city’s fossil fuel infrastructure, and for more open streets. She has also called for low-wage workers and those from communities of color to be prioritized when it comes to new renewable energy jobs.

Castro campaigned heavily on public safety, pushing for increased funding of the NYPD and keeping Rikers Island open — the opposite of what Cabán advocated for.

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