On this leafy street in northeast Queens, asking questions about who should be New York City’s next mayor invariably turn to the current mayor—and that’s about it.
Several residents say that all they know is that they’re happy that Mayor Michael Bloomberg won’t be running City Hall next year. Even though more than two-thirds of Bayside voters cast their ballots for Bloomberg in both 2005 and 2009, the incumbent seems to have worn out his welcome in the neighborhood after he overturned term limits and won a third term.
“I don’t want to have anything more to do with politics!” one middle-aged man huffed when asked about the mayor and his potential successors, and then slammed his door shut.
The eroding support for Bloomberg isn’t the only shift. The residents of this stretch of 215th Street, with its grassy front lawns, driveways and tidy two- and three-story homes, are now represented by Democrats in every state and federal office. Last fall twice as many voters in the Assembly district that includes Bayside voted for President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. The area’s only Republican representative is Dan Halloran, one of the few GOP members in the City Council.
The area wasn’t always so heavily Democrat. Leo Gorynski, a self-employed 54-year-old who has lived on the street for 25 years, recalled that in the early 1990s Frank Padavan was his state senator and Doug Prescott was his assemblyman, both of them Republicans. Padavan, who took office in 1972, lost to former City Councilman Tony Avella, a progressive Democrat, in 2010.
“This neighborhood changed,” Gorynski said. “It used to be Padavan and Prescott.”
Gorynski and his neighbors enjoy a solidly middle-class or upper-middle-class lifestyle, and the street has a suburban feel. The stretch of homes is accessible by bus and the Long Island Rail Road, but it’s four miles beyond the last MTA subway station.
In the 2009 City Council race for Avella’s old seat, Halloran narrowly beat Democrat Kevin Kim, who would have been the first Korean-American on the Council. That race, which was marked by racial politics, also reflected the diversity of Bayside and neighboring Bayside Hills, where whites make up under half of the population, according to 2010 census figures. About 12 percent of the population is Hispanic, 3 percent is black and 37 percent is Asian.
A previous version of this post said that whites make up only a third of the population, and over a quarter of the population is Hispanic, 23 percent is black and 13 percent is Asian. In fact, just under half of the population is white, 37 percent is Asian, 12 percent is Hispanic and 3 percent is black.
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