By Anthony Giudice and Robert Pozarycki at QNS.com
The wildest City Council race in Queens is finally over.
Eight days after the election, Robert Holden clinched the 30th City Council District seat over two-term incumbent Elizabeth Crowley. His narrow Election Night victory was upheld after the Board of Elections counted all absentee and affidavit ballots on Nov. 15.
It was a stunning defeat for Crowley, the only incumbent Democratic City Council member to lose to a Republican candidate this election cycle. In a statement Thursday morning, Crowley said her nine years working in the City Council were “the most rewarding and fulfilling of my entire life.”
At the conclusion of Wednesday’s count, a source close to the situation reported, Holden had 137 more votes than Crowley. His margin of victory had actually grown by four; after polls were tabulated on Election Night, the Republican challenger had a 133-vote lead over his Democratic rival.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, running for office, but it’s the most gratifying thing,” Holden said of his win in an interview with QNS on Nov. 16. “Right now, it’s the most satisfying thing other than maybe getting Elmhurst Park.”
Holden thanked his team of volunteers for the hard work they put in to help him get elected.
“My volunteers were great. They pushed me and supported me,” he said. “They’re responsible for this, not me. This was David and Goliath. A group of volunteers taking down a nine-year incumbent — this is tremendously satisfying, and I owe it all to my volunteers and my wife.”
Back in September, Crowley had easily defeated Holden, longtime president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, in the Democratic primary. The two had been feuding for many years over myriad civic matters. After his primary defeat, Holden— a registered Democrat for more than four decades— vowed to continue his campaign against Crowley on third-party ballot lines.
Holden’s fortunes turned around when he secured the Republican Party line in late September. Prior to then, the party’s nominee was Joseph Kasper, a lawyer who ran for a judgeship last year and had been virtually nonexistent in the City Council race. Kasper dropped out of the Council race after being a nomination for a judgeship, enabling the Queens County Republican Party to offer its ballot line to Holden, who ultimately accepted.
Undoubtedly attracting the straight ticket voter, Holden secured 8,457 votes on the Republican line, according to the unofficial Election Night results. Those votes, combined with the votes he received on the Conservative, Reform and “Dump de Blasio” lines, put Holden over the top.
In her Nov. 16 statement, Crowley thanked the people of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven and Woodside for their support, and vowed to continue to fight for her constituents during her remaining time in the Council. Her term ends on Dec. 31.
“The results of this election will not change my commitment to public service. I intend to spend the remaining weeks of my term in office working tirelessly on behalf of my constituents,” she said. “Whatever the future holds, I will bring the same passion and dedication to fighting for our community that I brought to my work as Council member.”
Holden has yet to indicate which party he would caucus with in the City Council. Should he caucus with the GOP, he would be only the fourth Republican in the chamber; Queens’ Eric Ulrich and Staten Island’s Joseph Borreli and Steven Matteo are the others. Democrats fill the other 47 seats.
“That’s not who I am. I don’t believe the party label defines you,” he said. “I’m from civics so I’ve worked with both parties, so I hope to do that in the Council. I’m going to do what’s best for my constituents.”
Holden’s term begins on Jan. 1, the same day that Mayor Bill de Blasio begins his second term in office. The relationship between the mayor and new City Council member is already off to an awkward beginning. When asked at a post-election press conference on Nov. 8 about the possibility of working with Holden, de Blasio said that “we don’t share values” and, while he’d try to work with Holden, he predicted that they wouldn’t see “eye-to-eye” on many issues.