Slow Special Election Day in Far Rockaway, Queens

Slow turnout and drizzly weather at the 41st Street Houses polling location in Far Rockaway, NY (Photo by Madeline Renbarger)














Update Wednesday, February 24th at 10:15AM: As of Wednesday morning, no candidate has received more than 50% of the vote, making it the first city race to go into ranked-choice voting. Selvena Brooks-Powers leads with 38% of the vote currently, while Pesach Osina is in second place with 35% of the vote. The election will not go into the next count until all of the absentee and military ballots come in, so official results will likely not be confirmed for a few more days. 

Turnout for the special election to fill the now-Queens Borough President Donovan Richards seat in the City Council was low at most polling places on Tuesday, probably due to the increasing use of mail-in ballots and the less-than-ideal weather.

Still, some residents of City Council District 31 in Far Rockaway, Queens trekked through the leftover snow, slush, and drizzle to cast their votes at the 41st St Houses community center in Far Rockaway.

“If you don’t vote, then you can’t complain about the outcome,” said poll worker and 41st Street Houses resident Hesali Montgomery, 49. “It’s good that people are still coming through the bad weather.”

There were nine candidates on the ballot and it marked the second go round of ranked choice voting in Queens.  Voters can rank up to five candidates on their ballots from most to least preferred.

The new system got mixed reviews.  Some residents appreciated it. “I like the fact that you can choose,” said Timothy Grimes, 22, who said he picked Shawn Rux, his former middle school principal, as his first choice. “He’s a great part of this community.  It was so cool when I saw Mr. Rux’s name on the ballot!”

Voters in the District 31 Special election wait inside with minimal lines at the 41st Street Houses Polling Location in Far Rockaway, NY (Photo by Madeline Renbarger_

Others like Heidi Woolever, 49, felt differently.  “I don’t know if I did it right-it was still pretty confusing, but at least I came out and tried!” Woolever has lived in Far Rockaway for six years and expressed her first-choice preference for candidate Manny Silvia. “I really only came out for him, so for me ranked choice didn’t matter as much.”

With so many mail-in ballots yet to be tallied, the election result is not expected to be confirmed for several days.

To read our past interviews with several District 31 candidates, click here for more Politics and Policy coverage.