Nov. 17, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Republican candidate Vickie Paladino has won the Council District 19 race after absentee ballots were tallied this week.
Paladino, a Whitestone civic leader, narrowly defeated Democrat Tony Avella, who represented the district in the council from 2002 to 2009, once the mailed-in votes were counted.
Her campaign confirmed her victory Tuesday evening.
“After two long days at Board of Elections overseeing the absentee ballot tally, we can confirm that our election night victory will stand, and Vickie Paladino will be the next council member to represent the people of District 19 on the city council,” Paladino’s campaign said in a statement.
However, her election-night lead significantly shrunk once the 2,208 absentee ballots in the mix were tallied.
She initially led Avella by 1,653 in-person votes, according to the NYC Board of Elections. However, once absentee ballots were counted, her lead shrunk to just 387 votes, according to Avella.
Avella acknowledged her victory in a statement.
“I want to thank all of my supporters and volunteers who worked tirelessly on our campaign,” he said. “Although we lost, I am proud of the positive and issued-based campaign we waged.”
He added that he would soon review the results of the election and “what this means for our community.”
“A mere 387 votes was the difference in the outcome despite my opponent conducting negative ads and a Trump-like disinformation campaign,” Avella said.
The BOE has yet to release the new election results with absentee ballots included.
Still, Paladino’s win is significant for the borough and a surprise to many political insiders.
The D-19 seat — which covers the neighborhoods of of Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck, Malba and Whitestone — is currently held by Democrat Paul Vallone.
Paladino has effectively flipped the seat from blue to red at a time when Queens Republicans feared losing all borough representation.
However, the D-19 seat has been represented by a Republican in recent times. Republican Daniel Halloran held the seat from 2009 to 2013, before Vallone was elected in 2013.
Many residents, particularly in Whitestone and College Point, also voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020.
Borough Republicans were also able to fend off a promising Democratic challenger in District 32, which is currently the borough’s only Republican-held seat in the City Council. Republican Joann Ariola, chair of the Queens Republican Party, beat Felicia Singh, an Ozone Park resident and educator.