In Forest Hills, a middle-class Queens neighborhood with a large population of émigré Jews from the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, turnout for the primary Tuesday was light. Few members of the Russian-speaking community take part in elections, especially primaries like this week’s, when they see few issues that seem to directly to affect their interests. But they are likely to vote in greater numbers in November’s general election, said a Russian-speaking poll-watcher who has close connections to the immigrant community.
An octogenarian woman from Uzbekistan, asked at PS 175Q for whom she was voting, answered “Vallone.” City Council member Peter Vallone Jr. is a Democrat running for borough president.
“He seems like an honest man,” the woman said, pulling from her purse a campaign flyer for Vallone.
But when it came to the mayor’s race, the voter shrugged.
“I don’t know,” she said. “They all seem the same to me.”
Helen Schultz, a retired school secretary, said she voted for William Thompson, Jr., “because I feel he’s excellent for education and cares about the teachers.”
Schultz said she favored Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in the comptroller’s race. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, she said, “would have been good, but I felt he was trying to buy the position” by spending millions of dollars of his own money on campaign commercials.
Jeffrey Berg, a retired importer, said he voted for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for mayor because the candidate favors raising the tax rate of “the wealthy.” Berg voted for Spitzer for comptroller because of Spitzer’s experience as governor and attorney general. “He did a good job there.”
As for Spitzer’s involvement with prostitutes, which led him to resign as governor, “these guys have issues,” Berg said, including former congressman Anthony Weiner in his comment. “We all have issues.”
A retired teacher who declined to give her name said she voted for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, as the “strongest” Democratic candidate in the mayoral race this week, but was likely to vote for the Republican in the general election. The teacher said she voted for Stringer for comptroller. “Spitzer,” she said, “is arrogant.”
At a West End Avenue polling place on the Upper West Side, Gloria Bogin, a senior citizen, shrugged and said she voted for Thompson because “I didn’t like any of the others,” and because the United Federation of Teachers endorsed him (she is a member), and noted they endorsed Stringer too.
Weiner, she said, “didn’t do that much when he was in Congress, except talk. He’s a character in search of an author.”
Spitzer, she said, “has a bad record.” Bogin said she was “annoyed with all the phone calls I got.” Even the Weiner campaign called her.
In Riverdale, outside a polling place on Arlington Avenue, more people professed to being energized to vote against Weiner and Spitzer than to vote for anyone.
“I’m not happy with any of these choices, so I don’t want to say [how she voted], so as not to sound as if I’m supporting anyone,” said Lena F. “Is this the best New York can do? None of these guys excites me.”
Phil, who declined to give his last name, added, “I voted for Thompson, it was a last minute choice helped by seeing Thompson campaign with [Assemblyman Dov] Hikind and former [Sen.] Al D’Amato.”
Reporting by Steve Lipman, Gabriela Geselowitz and Jonathan Mark.