2023 elections

Tony Avella, Kristy Marmorato hold onto council primary leads with ranked choice voting

Both races set up competitive city council contests in November

Former City Council Member Tony Avella

Former City Council Member Tony Avella Will Deegan

Only a handful of New York City Council primaries were left undecided last Tuesday night, but preliminary ranked choice voting results released by the city Board of Elections on Wednesday show Democrat Tony Avella and Republican Kristy Marmorato on top of their respective tight races.

Both Avella and Marmorato held slim leads on election night. The preliminary ranked choice voting tabulations added to their totals by distributing the votes of people who ranked them second on their ballot after ranking a last-place (now eliminated) candidate first. 

This run of RCV includes all the in-person votes, but only includes absentee ballots that were received by 3 p.m. on the day before primary day. More absentee ballots have trickled in since then, but the races are not close enough that they’re expected to change the result. The BOE plans to run another round of RCV, including more mail-in ballots, on Tuesday, July 11. 

That means results are not yet final, but there aren’t many ballots left outstanding to swing the races in favor of the second-place candidates. 

District 19, Democratic primary

Republican City Council Member Vickie Paladino will almost certainly face a rematch with former Council Member Tony Avella in November’s general election for this northeastern Queens district. Avella led assistant district attorney Christopher Bae on election night by just 124 first place votes, according to preliminary results. The ranked choice tallies released on Wednesday put Avella over the 50% mark, with Avella leading Bae 51% to 49%. Bae picked up slightly more votes from people who made the other candidate, historic preservationist Paul Graziano, their top choice, but Avella’s vote lead held steady, and he’s now ahead by 123 votes. 

District 13, Republican primary

City Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, who easily soared to victory in her East Bronx Democratic primary, will face x-ray technician Marmorato in November’s general election. With the Bronx GOP-backed Republican cinching 52% of the vote, Wednesday’s ranked choice tallies solidified Marmorato’s victory against former Bronx Community Board 10 member George Havranek. While Havranek picked up 61 votes to Marmorato’s 46 from the ballots cast for business owner Hasime Samantha Zherka, it wasn’t enough to tip the scales his way, leaving Marmorato with a 56-vote lead.

Other Republican primaries

Two other races that were too close to call on election night seem likely to hold. City Council Member Kalman Yeger expanded his lead from 20 to 25 votes over media personality Heshy Tischler, after some more absentee ballots were factored in on Wednesday in the District 44 Republican primary. In the low-turnout primary around Borough Park in Brooklyn, that’s good enough for a 51% to 48% lead. Yeger, a registered Democrat, already has the Democratic and Conservative Party lines in November, while Tischler will be on the general election ballot on a third party line. 

And in the neighboring District 43, an open seat centered on the growing Asian population in Sunset Park and Bensonhurst, Ying Tan expanded her lead over Vito LaBella in the Republican primary from 28 to 33 votes. With just 829 votes counted so far, that’s good enough for a 51% to 47% lead for Tan.