With the recent vacancy of the Queens borough presidency, an intense competition is expected to see who will fill the seat. However, a somewhat interesting coincidence arose when it came to party affiliation.
Due to former Borough President Melinda Katz leaving her seat after being elected Queens District Attorney, candidates were allowed to come up with their own party affiliation for the ballot as it’s an open election with no primary so no candidate will carry the Democratic or Republican Party line.
So, candidates were allowed to exercise their creative sides. Instead of Democrat and Republican, you have party names such as “I Like Maio” and “Red Dragon.”
This, however, may not help smaller candidates as three clear front-runners have already emerged. City Council Members Donovan Richards (D-Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens) and Costa Constantinides (D- Astoria, East Elmhurst, Long Island City, and Woodside) and former Council Member Elizabeth Crowley are the favorites going into the election.
Donovan, who has yet to receive public matching funds, has raised $198,649, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and has a strong voting base and the support of Queens County Democratic Party Chair U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks.
Richards, who is running on the Community Unity line, also has the support of several of the city’s public sector largest unions including DC 37, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and most recently 32BJ.
“In his time on the City Council, Donovan Richards has been a fierce advocate for working people in New York City. He championed and helped to pass the fair work weak laws to raise standards and improve jobs for fast-food workers. Richards has tirelessly advocated for airport worker rights, joining 32BJ in the fight for airport jobs with dignity and respect,” said Kyle Bragg, President of 32BJ SEIU.
“Donovan Richards has also brought thousands of units of affordable housing and good, family-sustaining jobs to his district in South East Queens. In addition, he has been a strong leader in the movement for real criminal justice reforms and has fought to stop the cycle of incarceration that has devastated Black and brown communities in our city,” he added.
Constantinides, of the “Transform Queens Party,” is running on a progressive platform of protecting Queens from the devastating impacts of climate change while creating tens of thousands of good-paying jobs. “Queens kick-started the Green New Deal, and we should lead the way going forward,” it states on his website.
Constantinides has already received backing from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party including from State Sens. Jessica Ramos (D- Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Astoria, Woodside) and Michael Gianaris (D- Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven).
According to the CFB, Constantinides has raised $227,711 and has already received $476,697 in $8-to$1 public financing matching money.
Crowley is running as the “It’s Our Time Party” candidate. She is running a platform of getting Queens its fair share.
“Elizabeth Crowley stands for bold solutions that address some of Queens’ greatest needs and for our borough to finally get the resources that it deserves. That’s why Elizabeth is building the necessary support for more public transportation options, for policies that will make Queens carbon neutral and more storm resilient,” according to her campaign website.
Crowley has raised $452,090 in contributions and has already received $497,795 in public taxpayer matching funds, according to the CFB.
Crowley’s endorsements thus far have come from the Electrical Workers’ Union and the Transportation Workers’ Union. She herself was a part of a trade union, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.
To qualify for the matching funds program, candidates must meet rules set by the board.
The special election is set for March 24. The winner of the election will fill out the rest of the term until the next election cycle begins, and will have to run again in 2021.