According to the city’s Board of Elections, with nearly 99 percent of precincts reporting, Gennaro received nearly 60 percent of the vote in the first round of the election, which was the first race to use the new ranked-choice voting system.
Although there are still some 600 absentee ballots left to be counted, should Gennaro maintain more than 50 percent of the vote, he will be the winner of the special election without going to a second round.
On the night of the election, Gennaro issued a statement thanking his supporters and volunteers, as well as the fellow candidates for engaging in a “substantive campaign on the issues.”
“I feel humbled that the early returns show that our campaign is likely to prevail in this election,” he said. “I am of course compelled to respect the process of the counting of all the ballots. I eagerly await those final results.”
Progressive activist Moumita Ahmed, who was endorsed by the New York Working Families Party, Senator Bernie Sanders and a slate of other progressive elected officials and organizations, received nearly 16 percent of the vote, placing second.
Soma Syed, president of the Queens County Women’s Bar Association, finished third with 8.5 percent, followed by small business owner Deepti Sharma at 5 percent, and New American Voters Association president Dilip Nath with 4.4 percent.
Gennaro won all of the neighborhoods that make up District 24, which includes Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates and Briarwood.
The former councilman did especially well in Assembly District 27, which includes Kew Gardens Hills. He won that part of the district with 2,198 votes, making up the majority of his 3,379 votes.
Ahmed performed the best in Assembly District 24, which runs from Briarwood to Jamaica Estates and Holliswood. But even in that area, Gennaro won the district by 167 votes.
On Twitter that night, Ahmed wrote that she was “incredibly proud of the team we built” and the energy of her campaign.
“We are a people-powered grassroots campaign that has been speaking to voters in District 24 all day about taking power away from billionaires and instead investing in everyday people in our community,” she wrote.
The progressive activist was the target of negative mailer ads by the independent expenditure committee Common Sense NYC, which poured in more than $95,000 to oppose Ahmed. The group also spent more than $108,000 to support Gennaro in the race.
Gennaro served in the City Council from 2002 to 2013, including 10 years as chair of the Environmental Protection Committee. In 2014, he was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo as deputy commissioner for New York City sustainability and resiliency at the state Department of Environmental Conservation. He stepped down from that role to run for office again.
He said he will seek to build on the past environmental legislative work he accomplished more than a decade ago, including ensuring that New York City reduces greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, a law that was passed by Councilman Costa Constantinides, Gennaro’s former deputy chief of staff.
By winning the special election, Gennaro will serve in the City Council until the end of 2021. The election was triggered when former Councilman Rory Lancman resigned to take a position in the Cuomo administration as Special Counsel for Ratepayer Protection.
In June, there will be a primary election for the full four-year term. Gennaro has already filed for re-election, along with candidates Stanley Arden, Joshua Maynard and Mohammed Uddin.