A Personal Perspective
BY MARCIA MOXAM COMRIE
As far as elections go, this week’s general election turned out really well for the Democratic Party across the city, state and beyond. Here in Queens, we were delighted to see that all—but there was one surprise.
After two terms in office, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley appeared to have lost to a newcomer to politics. We were aware that she was in a serious race, but most expected her to win.
Instead, the Middle Village Democrat ended up in a nail-biter with faux Republican rival Robert Holden, a CUNY professor and Juniper Park Civic president, who as of this writing is ahead of Crowley by more than 130 votes.
In a citywide or statewide election, 130 votes are very easily overcome. On the local level—such as City Council—the numbers tend to continue favoring the person on top during a recount. Meanwhile, Holden is claiming victory and Crowley is refusing to concede. The recount next week will decide.
This is not Crowley’s first time to lose the 30th Council District seat. Back in 2001 when the late Republican Councilman Tom Ognibene was being forced out due to term limits, Crowley ran and lost to Ognibene’s then-chief of staff, Dennis Gallagher, also a Republican.
Approximately five years later, the seat became available again and, this time, Crowley won over Republican Anthony Como. Elizabeth was the third member of her immediate family to serve in the council, having been preceded by her father, Walter, and then her mother, Mary, who succeeded him when he died.
Ms. Crowley seems to have served well in the council for the past eight years. However, with a seeming knack for rubbing colleagues the wrong way, Crowley got on the wrong side of Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Howard Beach), who ended up supporting her rival and causing some legal woes for her as well.
But that’s not all. Some of her decisions for her district were unpopular and played a role in her loss.
Crowley supported the mayor’s bid to close Rikers Island and set up more local holding facilities, one of which was slated for her district. She was also on the wrong side of a homeless shelter issue and Holden and his civic association successfully fought against it.
There is a difference between being a good legislator and a good politician. Not everyone knows how to walk that fine line. You have to know how to take the temperature. The legislator may get a bill passed or stop the closure of an important community resource. But the politician knows to collaborate, share credit and be tactful.
Being politically savvy is an important survival tool. You don’t run for a congressional seat against the county’s choice when you know you can’t possibly win. You especially don’t do it when your cousin with the same last name is the county chairman and already the congressional representative for a neighboring district.
Thankfully, here in Southeast Queens, the incumbents have both won reelection and Adrienne Adams, the party’s candidate, has won for the first time.
She, like I. Daneek Miller and Donovan Richards, now have an opportunity to start or continue serving the people of their respective districts. Miller and Richards have proven themselves and we expect no less from Adams. She’s a bright lady with civic credentials that she will bring to bear in this new and expanded role.
Equally important were the seats that Democrats won or held onto, and Proposition 1 was soundly defeated. There will be no Constitutional Convention and we won’t have to worry about this debate again for another 20 years.
All in all, it was a good day.