Diocesan News

‘Common Sense’ Candidates Claim Local City Council Seats

Republican Glenn Youngkin addresses the crowd celebrating his election in Chantilly, Va., early Nov. 3, 2021. He defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the governor’s race. (Photo: CNS/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

‘The State of NY Wanted Change’

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — New York State Conservative Party Chairman Jerry Kassar called Tuesday, Nov. 2 “a very, very good day,” with a plethora of Republican-Conservative wins throughout the state, including many victors who will take office for the first time.

Locally, Republican and Conservative candidates claimed four City Council wins in the five boroughs — with the possibility of a fifth win, as of Nov. 9.

There’s no doubt it was an uphill battle within the five boroughs — which all lean heavily Democratic, except for Staten Island. Possibly because of disillusionment with the current Democrat mayor, Bill di Blasio, voters chose to elect a number of Republicans who promised a “common sense” approach to local government.

“I think the election showed that the state of New York and the people of the city of New York wanted change, and they got change,” Kassar told The Tablet.

They achieved that goal “by electing good, solid Republican Conservatives statewide that represent a very different take on government than [U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez] and the progressives in the New York legislature, who have very often ignored how New Yorkers feel on issues to push their own agenda,” he said.

The local elections may have also been affected by a turning tide in national elections, most notably in Virginia, where Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe to become the first elected Republican governor in the commonwealth since 2009. Additionally, Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy narrowly defeated Republican former state lawmaker Jack Ciattarelli. But, as of Nov. 9, Ciattarelli was awaiting the absentee ballots count and not conceding.

Among the GOP candidates to win city council seats in Brooklyn and Queens are Vickie Paladino, Inna Vernikov and Joann Ariola. As of Nov. 9, Republican-Conservative candidate Brian Fox was leading progressive Democratic incumbent Justin Brannan by just 255 votes with 98% of the votes tallied, but with absentee and military ballots yet to be counted.

Additionally, Republican Dan Carr won in Staten Island’s 50th City Council District by defeating veteran Democratic politician Sal Albanese to take over the seat held by term-limited Councilmember Steven Matteo. District 51 Republican-Conservative incumbent Joseph Borelli easily retained his seat against Democrat Olivia Drabczyk, and longtime GOP mainstay Vito Fossella emerged as the new Staten Island borough president.

The red wave surged over Long Island as well, with  the GOP emerging victorious in a number of elections across Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who had been the only female elected official in New York City after defeating Democrat Max Rose in 2020, and who previously served in the State Assembly from 2011 to 2020, viewed the surge in GOP wins as a mandate against the Biden administration.

“New Yorkers in the counties across our state and Americans across the country sent a clear message to Democrats that they have gone too far,” Malliotakis told The Tablet.

“They are tired of President Biden’s economic crisis that has caused inflation and increased the cost of living, his open borders that are leading to a rise in human and drug trafficking and Democrats’ Defund the Police agenda that has made us less safe,” Malliotakis said. “Tuesday’s big wins set the stage for Republicans to take back the House next year and restore balance to our federal government.”

Inna Vernikov, a 37-year-old lawyer, has supported former President Trump and was endorsed by Donald Trump Jr.  She ultimately defeated Steve Saperstein, a former Republican who switched party affiliations in 2018 after losing a race for the New York State Assembly. Vernikov won the seat that ex-Councilman Chaim Deutsch lost last year after being convicted of tax fraud. She is a pro-life Republican-Conservative who will represent Brooklyn’s 48th Council District, whose population includes largely Russian Orthodox Jewish immigrants. The district covers areas including Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Midwood.

Vickey Paladino, another Trump supporter, declared victory over Democrat Tony Avella to win the Queens District 19 City Council seat, which includes Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck and Whitestone. While Paladino claimed victory on Tuesday night, Avella, who served in the City Council in 2002-2009 before moving on to the State Senate, was trailing Paladino by 1,729 votes as of this writing. Awaiting the absentee ballot count, she had yet to concede defeat.

Also emerging victorious in Queens was Joann Ariola, who won the District 32 City Council seat, which covers the beachfront communities of Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach and Howard Beach.

She handily defeated Democratic-Progressive Felicia Singh, who was backed by Ocasio-Cortez. Ariola is a strong supporter of the NYPD, while Singh advocated defunding the police. Ariola claimed that her win proves that her backers are focused on better education, less crime in the streets, and support for small businesses. She believes that the progressive socialist movement has hurt the city’s quality of life and views her win as proof that her district opposes it. Ariola succeeds term-limited Republican Eric Ulrich.

Yet another seat that the GOP was hoping to flip is the 43rd District City Council seat, currently held by Justin Brannan. If Brian Fox emerges victorious in the district that includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and Gravesend, he will be the first Republican-Conservative to hold the seat since former state Senator Marty Golden held it in 2003.

Golden, who was the city councilmember for the 43rd District from 1998 to 2002 before serving as a Brooklyn state senator from 2003 to 2018, was pleased with the election results.

The former police officer said it all boiled down to safety: “I think people are fed up with the crime in the streets and just want to be able to live in a safe city.”