Quinn fends off two challengers to take the primary

by Albert Amateau

In citywide Democratic primaries, Bill Thompson won solidly over Tony Avella for mayor, Bill de Blasio and Mark Green finished first and second forcing a runoff for public advocate, John Liu and David Yassky made the runoff for comptroller. Cy Vance won fairly comfortably for Manhattan district attorney over Leslie Crocker Snyder and Richard Aborn.

Meanwhile, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn held off a strong challenge from Yetta Kurland, winning re-election to another term in the Third District.

East Village Councilmember Rosie Mendez romped with 82 percent of the vote against Juan Pagan.

In the Third District race, after the votes had come in, at her victory party at Mustang Harry’s on Seventh Ave. at 30th St., Quinn acknowledged the race had been competitive.

“It was a bit more of a West Side of Manhattan, you know, a take-off-the-gloves campaign than any of us expected,” she said. The campaign’s lesson was, Quinn said: “[That] putting progress in front of politics matters — and civility is actually something important. … I don’t want to get to a place where we fight just for the sake of fighting.”

Quinn told a reporter that the race got more “negative” and “personal” than she expected, but was not surprised that Kurland and Maria Passannante-Derr were able to mount strong races.

Quinn won with 6,868 votes (52 percent), versus Kurland’s 4,108 votes (31 percent) and Derr’s 2,117 votes (16 percent), according to the not yet official returns.

Kurland said, “We won on so many levels. Eight months ago — 12 months ago — people told us we couldn’t do it; it was an impossibility, and we would just get 1 percent of the vote, that you don’t go against incumbents, that you can’t question authority when it becomes dysfunctional. People were afraid to stand up to Christine Quinn, and we showed the entire district, and we showed the entire city, that the numbers show that this district is not happy with their leadership.

“This is just the beginning,” Kurland vowed. “From now on, we will be a phantom government in this district. Every time there is development that happens without affordable housing, there’s deals that are made that succumb to big business and developers and to money, we will be here, we will be watching. We are organized, we have power — this is just the beginning.”

Passannante-Derr and her supporters gathered at P.J. Charlton, Phil Mouquinho’s restaurant at Greenwich and Charlton Sts. Mouquinho, a former Community Board 2 member and a leading foe of the city’s plan for a three-district Department of Sanitation garage in Hudson Square at the west end of Spring St., said that right after Passannante-Derr had left the party, some of her supporters got an idea:

“Some of the people here were discussing what a run by Yetta would do if she ran on an independent ticket with support from Maria’s people” in the November general election, he said.

Tallying up the numbers, Mouquinho said for Quinn to win by a total of only roughly 650 votes over Kurland and Passannante-Derr combined — out of more than 13,000 votes cast — clearly showed weakness on the speaker’s part.

“Here we have an incumbent who is speaker who won with 52 percent of the vote,” he said. “You’re saying the speaker won by [only] 650 votes? Come on, a speaker with all the support of Mayor Bloomberg? Six hundred fifty votes — incumbent speaker with all that power.”

In Chelsea, a steady stream of voters visited the Selis Manor polling station on W. 23rd St. to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary.

Michael Todd Meyers, 45, of W. 24th St., voted for Quinn because he saw the City Council speaker’s alignment with Mayor Bloomberg as a positive thing.

“She seems pretty on point, seems to know the issues,” said Meyers, who did not vote for either of the mayoral candidates and plans to support Bloomberg. “If it’s not broke don’t fix it,” he added of his choice, “especially in this economy.”

Another voter, a 39-year-old W. 21st St. resident who declined to give his name, conversely viewed Quinn’s ties to the mayor as a weakness and instead pulled the lever for Kurland.

“The term-limits thing really upsets me, and I really believe Quinn lost her way,” he said, acknowledging he thought Quinn would eventually emerge the victor. “She’s one of Bloomberg’s little pawns.”

However, Edward Hlastrova, 87, who has lived in the same W. 21st St. building since 1966, voted “Quinn for sure” on Tuesday morning.

“She’s very good, she’s very serious, she gets things done,” Hlastrova said, admitting he didn’t hear much about the two other candidates, but didn’t like Passannante-Derr’s “personal attacks” against the speaker during the campaign. “Quinn to me is the most qualified.”

With additional reporting

and Paul Schindler.