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Lynn Schulman and Aleda Gagarin in Tight Race for Forest Hills Seat

Lynn Schulman and Aleda Gagarin (via respective campaigns)

June 23, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Lynn Schulman and Aleda Gagarin are in a tight race for the Council District 29 seat, early election results show.

Schulman and Gagarin are leading the seven other candidates in the race to represent Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill, but the race is too close to call.

The race is historic as the two frontrunners are both queer women in what some consider to be a more conservative district than others in the city.

Schulman, an activist and attorney who previously served on Queens Community Board 6, has a narrow lead with 22.07 percent of in-person, first-choice votes. Gagarin, a non-profit leader, activist and the preferred progressive candidate, follows with 20.6 percent, according to the Board of Elections (BOE) unofficial results.

Coming in third is David Aronov, who secured 13.39 percent of first-choice votes.

Donghui Zang generated 11.40 percent of the vote, while the remaining candidates — Avi Cyperstein, Edwin Wong, Douglas Shapiro, Eliseo Labayen and Sheryl Fetik — earned 10 percent or less, with 95.58 percent of BOE scanners reported.

The percentages are only based on voters’ first-choice picks from in-person voting on Election Day and during early voting.

Neither Schulman or Gagarin earned more than 50 percent of the first-choice votes, so the city’s new ranked-choice voting system will be used to determine the winner.

The candidate with the least amount of first-choice votes — Fetik in this case — will be eliminated and people who chose her for their top choice will have their second choice counted. This process will continue until one candidate receives a majority of votes or more than 50 percent.

That means the race could easily go to either Schulman or Gagarin once voters’ second, third, fourth and fifth choice votes are counted. Absentee and affidavit ballots — which have yet to be tallied — could also impact the outcome.

“Now the wait begins. Thank you to all who came out and voted,” Gagarin wrote on Twitter. “We’re hopeful that when all the votes are counted our people powered movement will prevail.”

District residents may not know the official winner of D-29 race for weeks.

The BOE will release the results of the ranked choice tabulation in one week — on Tuesday, June 29 — and will continue to update the results each week as absentee ballots come in, until the board certifies the results.

The BOE is not expected to certify the results of the elections until the week of July 12 or later to allow time for absentee ballots to come in.

The winner of the primary election will also need to win the November general election to become the district’s council member. That person will replace term-limited Council Member Karen Koslowitz.

(New York City Board of Elections)

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