While the borough may not know definitively who the next Queens borough president is for days or weeks, City Councilman Donovan Richards held an early lead in the race Tuesday evening.
Richards, a Democrat from southeast Queens, received about 68 percent of the vote, or about 363,327 votes as of 11:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, with around 92 percent of scanners reported. His Republican opponent, Joann Ariola, had 161,067 votes and third party candidate Dao Yin held 10,919 votes.
The final count likely won’t be known for at least a week, as absentee ballots won’t be tallied until the following week.
The city councilman declared victory during his election party at Pa-Nash Eurosoul, a restaurant in Rosedale.
“This election was all about who we are as a borough,” Richards said. “While there were those who sought to divide us, those who said lets build walls in Queens, here in Queens County, we let them know that we build bridges.”
Richards also spoke about the challenges the borough currently faces and will likely face in the future, many of which were caused by COVID-19.
“As unemployment soars, support to food pantries and small business will be essential to ensuring no one in the borough goes hungry,” Richards said. “We have a lot of work to do and I look forward to getting to work.”
Richards, a popular politician in a safely Democrat borough, was largely expected to perform well in the Queens borough president’s race. The city councilman beat out four challengers during June’s Democratic primary for the seat, receiving a little more than 65,000 votes, or about 33 percent of the vote. Former City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley finished second in the race with approximately 52,000 votes.
Ariola, who serves as the chairwoman of the Queens County Republican Party, centered her campaign around an anti-crime sentiment. She announced her bid for the seat in April, after the Republican primary for the seat had been cancelled due to COVID-19.
The Queens borough president race has seen a fair share of twists and turns after the seat became vacated when former Borough President Melinda Katz was elected to Queens district attorney in 2019. A non-partisan special election to replace Katz was scheduled to take place on March 24, but was cancelled as the COVID-19 crisis began to take hold of the city.
Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee has been serving since Katz vacated the office in January.
Queens will head to the polls and vote again for borough president in 2021, when Katz’s term was originally set to end.
This story first appeared on our sister publication qns.com.