Former Councilman James Gennaro is poised to win his old Queens seat in the 24th City Council District special election. Gennaro has commanding lead in the race, receiving more than 60 percent of the vote as of Tuesday night.
The former councilman joined Bobby Cuza on “Inside City Hall” to talk about his election day performance and his priorities for the district.
Gennaro, who served as a City Council member from 2002 until 2013, says he will not declare victory just yet.
“I think it’s important to make sure that all of the ballots are counted,” he said. “I just want the process to play out. I believe in the system. I want all the votes counted and then when all the votes are counted, I’ll be more comfortable claiming victory."
The special election marked the first time the city used ranked-choice voting, a new voting system where constituents rank candidates in order of preference instead of voting for one candidate. Under rank-choice voting, the candidate with the most first-choice votes wins outright. If no candidate gets a majority of first-choice votes, the worst performing candidate gets eliminated and a new counting process begins. The process continues until a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.
In this case, there is likely no need for additional rounds because Gennaro appears to have received the majority of the votes.
When asked about ranked-choice voting, Gennaro said the Board of Elections could have done a better job at educating voters about the new system.
Gennaro, who campaigned as a moderate Democrat, was also asked about his more left-leaning opponents, including Moumita Ahmed, who was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Ahmed is currently second in the race.
“Some of the candidates were selling or pitching philosophy that I don’t think resonated all that well with people who live in the 24th district,” Gennaro said. “This is a district that is kind of in the middle of the political spectrum.”
Gennaro also responded to the notion that people want fresh ideas and new faces in the district.
“Everything should be up to the voters," he said. "All I was doing by presenting myself was to give people a choice and say that I have experience. I’ve worked with people in the community and I offered myself as a choice and people chose me.”
The winner of the special election will succeed Rory Lancman, who held the 24th district seat from 2014 to 2020. He resigned in November of last year to take a position in the Cuomo administration.
The winner of the special election will have to run again this year to win a full four-year term.