The battle for one City Council seat in Queens is far from over.
Just 133 votes separate Democratic City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and her Republican challenger, civic leader Robert Holden. Hundreds of paper ballots hang in the balance.
Those paper ballots will be opened next Tuesday at the New York City Board of Elections’ Queens office, but don’t expect the matter to be resolved in a day.
“The paper ballots get counted in every race no matter what, but in this case, it’s so close, it could change the results of the election,” said Sarah Steiner, a lawyer with expertise in election issues. “With such a slim margin, every vote will be evaluated strategically by the lawyers.”
Holden declared victory on Tuesday night but Crowley, who has held the seat since 2009, has refused to concede.
“We have done tremendous work over the last nine years to make our communities a better place to live and raise a family, and I am confident once all of the numbers come in, we will have four more years to build on that success,” she said in a statement released Wednesday morning.
Holden, a Democrat who ran on the Republican line, is well-known in the Middle Village area as president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.
“I’m overjoyed,” Holden said Wednesday, adding that he believes his lead will hold or grow after the paper ballots are counted. “We defeated a nine-year incumbent and a big part of the Queens Democratic machine. Career politicians will hold on for dear life so we kind of expected this.”
Crowley is the cousin of Congressman and Queens Democratic Party boss Joe Crowley.
District 30, which also includes parts of Glendale, Maspeth and Woodhaven, is one of the more Republican-leaning sections of the city.
Holden and Crowley ran a bruising campaign, beginning with the Democratic primary. Holden painted Crowley as an ineffective lawmaker while some of Crowley’s campaign literature depicted Holden as “Angry Bob” with images of Grandpa Simpson from “The Simpsons” television show.
Holden lost to Crowley in the primary and then ran on the Republican, Conservative, Reform and Dump de Blasio lines on Tuesday — receiving 10,221 votes according to unofficial tallies.
Crowley won 10,088 votes on the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality lines.
Steiner said absentee and affidavit ballots will likely be scrutinized by lawyers from both candidates to make sure the signatures are valid and voters properly registered.
If the margin of victory is less than half a percentage point, the Board of Elections will initiate a recount of all votes.