Thursday, February 26, 2009

Voters Cast Ballots for 3 New York City Council Seats by Trymaine Lee -

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Special elections were held on Tuesday for three City Council seats in Queens and on Staten Island to fill vacancies left by candidates who were elected to other offices in November.

Eric A. Ulrich won in the 32nd Council District in Queens and Julissa Ferreras won in the 21st Council District, also in Queens.

With about 10,000 votes cast in the 49th Council District on Staten Island, Kenneth C. Mitchell was leading Deborah L. Rose by 34 votes, but numerous absentee ballots still remained to be counted. Mr. Mitchell or Ms. Rose will fill the seat formerly held by Michael E. McMahon, who was elected to the House of Representatives.

The winners will serve through the end of the year and will then need to run again in primaries and in the general election to keep their seats.

Mr. McMahon won the seat formerly held by Representative Vito J. Fossella, who did not seek re-election after a drunken driving arrest led to revelations that he fathered a child with a mistress.

There were 395 absentee ballots that remained to be counted in the Mitchell-Rose race, said Valerie Vazquez-Rivera, a Board of Elections spokeswoman. The absentee ballots will not likely be counted for another week, Ms. Vazquez-Rivera said.

Early returns showed Ms. Rose leading, but shortly after midnight Mr. Mitchell had moved ahead.

Ballots were cast in the district using paper ballots after a last-minute ruling added a candidate to the ballot.

Mr. Ulrich, a Republican, won the seat formerly held by Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. in the 32nd Council District. Mr. Addabbo was elected to the State Senate.

Mr. Ulrich, the Republican district leader, outspent each of the other candidates vying for the seat. Ms. Ferreras, a Democrat, won election in the 21st Council District in Queens, replacing her former boss, Hiram Monserrate, who was elected to the State Senate.

Ms. Ferreras, who was Mr. Monserrate’s chief of staff, had her candidacy tainted by questions of financial irregularities at a charity she was involved with and the legal problems of her former boss: Mr. Monserrate was charged in December with domestic violence and weapons possession after he was accused of slashing his girlfriend in the face.

Ms. Ferreras is the first Latina to be an elected official in Queens, according to the Working Families Party, which was behind Ms. Ferreras’ campaign.