NEW YORK — It looks like James Gennaro is headed back to the City Council — and a true test run of the city's ranked-choice voting system will have to wait.

The former Queens Councilman, who served District 24 for three terms, was headed to victory Tuesday night in a special election to replace former Councilman Rory Lancman, who departed for a role in the Cuomo administration.

What You Need To Know

  • James Gennaro is the likely winner of a special election in Queens City Council District 24

  • Gennaro previously served as Council member for the district from 2002-2013

  • The election was the city's first test of ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference

  • Because Gennaro led with more than 50% of the vote, the ranked-choice system will likely not be activated

The election was New York's first foray into ranked-choice voting, a system where voters rank candidates in order of preference, rather than voting for a single candidate. But the system is used to determine a winner only when no candidate captures a majority of the vote.

An example of what a ranked-choice ballot could look like.


Gennaro was all but assured to meet that threshold, having received about 60% of the in-person vote as of late Tuesday night.

Gennaro easily out-paced the rest of the eight-person field. Six of his opponents were of South Asian descent, raising the possibility of the city's first South Asian Council member. But all six fell short.


Gennaro presented himself as the common-sense moderate in the field and sought to draw a contrast with Moumita Ahmed, a far more progressive candidate who won an endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Ahmed was second in the field, with about 16% of the vote as of late Tuesday night.

The election night count doesn't include at least 600 absentee ballots that were submitted.

Gennaro served as Council member from 2002 until 2013, and subsequently took a job in the Cuomo administration at the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The winner of the special election will serve out the remainder of Lancman's term, through the end of 2021, but will have to run again this year to win a full four-year term.

Council District 24 includes, among others, the neighborhoods of Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Hillcrest, Briarwood, and Jamaica Estates.



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