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Queens County Democratic Party Endorses Slate of Candidates, Although Not Without Controversy

Congressman Gregory Meeks (house.gov) Chairman of the Queens County Democrats

Feb. 16, 2021 By Christina Santucci

The Queens County Democratic Party endorsed a slate of candidates today for the June primary elections.

The entire slate – consisting of more than a dozen candidates for City Council, as well as comptroller, Queens Borough President and several judgeships — was put up for a single vote and passed.

The list was put together by party leaders—including party chairman Congressman Gregory Meeks—ahead of the meeting.

Some district leaders, however, did not want to vote for a slate. Some wanted to put each race up for a separate vote. A motion to that effect, however, was voted down.

The city council candidates who were part of the slate and got the party endorsement were Austin Shafran for District 19, Sandra Ung for District 20, Ebony Young for District 26 and Lynn Schulman for District 29.

Two council candidates in special elections this month — James Gennaro in District 24 and Selvena Brooks-Powers in District 31 — are also receiving the party’s backing for the Democratic primary on June 22.

Gennaro appears to have won the special election for District 24 held Feb. 2 to replace Rory Lancman, but the city’s Board of Elections has not yet officially declared a winner.

Meanwhile, early voting for the District 31 seat previously held by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards began Saturday, and Election Day is scheduled for Feb. 23.

The party also endorsed incumbent Council Members Francisco Moya and Adrienne Adams, who are both up for re-election, and David Weprin for city comptroller.

Richards got the nod for Queens Borough President. The party did not back a candidate for mayor.

Council Member Paul Vallone — as well as attorneys Michael Goldman, Cassandra Johnson and Andrea Ogle — received the party’s endorsement for Civil Court judgeships.

In a Twitter thread, the Queens Dems noted the historic nature of the judicial candidacies.

If elected, Goldman would be the first openly LGBTQ+ judge and Ogle would be the first Indo-Caribbean judge. Johnson would be one of the first Haitian-American judges in the borough if she joined Judge Dweynie Esther Paul on the bench.

Vallone, who is unable to run again for his current Council seat due to term limits, would follow in the footsteps of his brother and former Astoria Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. if elected. Peter Vallone Jr. now serves as a judge in Queens Supreme Court’s Criminal Term.

Several district leaders said they had not been notified ahead of the meeting as to all the names that appeared on the slate. Some were critical that the meeting was being held on a Tuesday morning–while many people are at work–and said the meeting was not transparent.

“The process & scheduling of this meeting are intended to keep folks out,” Zachariah Boyer, a district leader, tweeted. He said that he found out about some of the candidates by reading a Queens Daily Eagle story the night before.

Boyer introduced the unsuccessful motion to vote on individual candidates during the meeting.

In addition, journalists reported that they were barred from the meeting and were only able to listen in on the meeting through a live audio stream that was set up by district leaders who are part of the New Reformers group.

Previously members of the media have been allowed to attend in-person designating meetings.

District Leader Emilia Decaudin called for future meetings to be live streamed and held in the evenings. “Both of these are critical to making the party accessible,” she tweeted.

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