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Selvena Brooks-Powers Wins Special Election for Council District 31 Seat

Selvena Brooks-Powers (selvena.com)

March 18, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Selvena Brooks-Powers announced today that she has won the special election for Council District 31.

Brooks-Powers said that she had crossed the 50 percent threshold to become the winner of the election after the city Board of Elections (BOE) counted and tallied votes Thursday, in accordance with the new ranked-choice voting system.

She led the race on election night, Feb. 23, with about 38 percent of the vote — short of the more than 50 percent needed to win in the first round of ranked-choice voting.

Under ranked-choice voting, voters can rank candidates one through five in order of preference. The votes tallied on election night are first-choice votes. If a candidate wins a majority of first-choice votes, he or she wins the election.

If no one wins a majority — as in the District 31 election — then the candidate with the least votes is knocked out. People who selected the last-placed candidate as their top choice will then have their votes tallied for whomever they picked as their second choice.

The process continues until one candidate receives the majority of votes.

In this case, Brooks-Powers was able to earn the majority of votes after BOE officials completed the count of the reallocated votes on Thursday.

She received more than 51 percent of votes after nine rounds of the reallocation process.

“I am honored to be elected by the residents of the 31st City Council District in Southeast Queens,” she said in a statement. “I stand on the shoulders of the leaders that have come before me, but especially that of Juanita Watkins, the first woman of color to serve a NYC Council district and the only woman to have ever served the 31st District — almost 20 years ago.”

She wished the best for the nine other candidates in the race and thanked her family, friends, mentors and community leaders for supporting her campaign.

Brooks-Powers also said the 31st District — which covers Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens — has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“We are in the midst of a tremendously challenging time, and the 31st District has been one of the hardest hit,” she said. “I understand the gravity of the next few months and am ready to hit the ground running to begin immediately delivering for the district.”

Brooks-Powers earned the endorsement of her predecessor now Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. Richards left the council seat open when he was elected borough president — which then triggered the special election to replace him.

He congratulated Brooks-Powers Thursday.

“All of the ballots are counted and the people have spoken: congrats Council Member-elect Selvena Brooks-Powers!” Richards tweeted. “I am confident CM-elect Brooks-Powers will build on the work my office and I started and chart a new course for the future of the 31st District. She will make SEQ proud.”

Candidate Pesach Osina came in second after the final tally Thursday with about 36 percent of the votes. The other candidates — Manny Silva, Nancy Martinez, Shawn Rux, Latanya Collins, Sherwyn James, Latoya Benjamin and Nicole Lee — were gradually knocked out of the race during nine rounds of counting.

The BOE has not yet released the certified results for the election.

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