SE Qns. voters claim term limits last straw

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During the election season, ads featuring mayoral candidate William Thompson and President Barack Obama were hanging all over southeast Queens. Photo by Christina Santucci

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By Ivan Pereira
Thursday, November 12, 2009

Last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg won his controversial bid for a third term by a surprisingly slim margin.

Part of the reason for his win may be that in southeast Queens, his Democratic rival, city Comptroller William Thompson, bested Bloomberg by wide margins in several state Assembly districts, city Board of Elections statistics show.

Some voters who went for Thompson in the predominantly black neighborhoods of Jamaica, St. Albans and Laurelton said their votes had nothing to do with race, political parties or endorsements. Rather, voters say, it was Bloomberg’s decision to extend his stay in office that caused them to seek a change in mayors.

“That bothered me because he didn’t go through the voters,” Thompson voter the Rev. Isidoa Branch Jr. of Jamaica said of the term-limits change.

Although Bloomberg won most of the Queens Assembly districts, he lost to Thompson in six of them, four of which covers southeast Queens: District 37, which covers western Queens; District 35, which covers Elmhurst and Corona; District 29, which covers St. Albans; District 31, which covers Laurelton and the Rockaways; District 32, which covers Jamaica and South Jamaica; and District 33, which covers Queens Village, according to BOE results.

The comptroller’s voter tally was double the amount Bloomberg amassed in the southeast Queens areas, as Thompson received 43,911 votes combined in Districts 29, 31, 32 and 33 compared to the mayor’s 16,102, the BOE said.

Several constituents in southeast Queens expressed their displeasure about the incumbent because they said he had been in office for too long. Some voters, like Jene Blanc of Laurelton, said they thought the mayor was a better leader for the city in the race, but for them eight was enough.

“Bloomberg was supposed to get out after eight years,” Blanc said. “I don’t think [Thompson is] a good candidate, but Bloomberg already had eight years.”

Thompson could have become the mayor’s second black mayor, but his race was not a leading factor into why he won southeast Queens, according to Adjoa Gzifa, chairwoman of Community Board 12.

Gzifa, a Democrat, said the term limits issue was on the minds of many voters, but at the end of the day, they chose who they thought was best based on the candidates’ leadership skills.

“The proof is in the eye of the beholder. If it relates to you and you think [Bloomberg] did a good job, you voted for him,” she said.

During a rally two days before the election at Rochdale Village, Thompson emphasized term limits before a crowd of supporters, which included U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) and state Senate Pro Tempore Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans).

The comptroller told the crowd of 100 that grassroots campaigns would be stronger than Bloomberg’s multimillion-dollar campaign spending.

“We have an opportunity to shock the world,” he said.

Despite Thompson’s support from Queens’ elected officials, Bloomberg had the backing of the Rev. Floyd Flake and Greater Allen Cathedral, the neighborhood’s most influential church.

Flake’s endorsement did not cause too much excitement for the mayor in southeast Queens, according to Gzifa, because most voters had already made up their mind.

“Endorsements don’t mean a hill of beans to people. I don’t think they are influenced by who at the top endorses these people,” she said.

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 8:36 pm and is filed under Breaking News, Politics, Print Articles, TimesLedger. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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