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Corey Johnson Wins Primary for Quinn's District 3 City Council Seat

By  Mathew Katz and Alan Neuhauser | September 10, 2013 11:00pm | Updated on September 10, 2013 11:43pm

  Johnson defeated civil rights lawyer Yetta Kurland to win the Democratic nomination for the seat.
Corey Johnson Wins District 3 City Council Seat
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MIDTOWN — Community Board 4 Chairman Corey Johnson won the Democratic nomination for the District 3 City Council seat Tuesday, assuring him a victory in the uncontested November general election.

Johnson won 62.6 percent of the vote, with 11,316 ballots, defeating his opponent, civil rights lawyer Yetta Kurland, who garnered 37.2 percent with 6,765 votes. Johnson's campaign declared victory shortly after 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

Johnson will replace City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on the City Council after a hard-fought campaign.

Johnson, who is openly gay, will continue the district's tradition as a so-called "gay seat." The district encompasses Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, the West Village and western Midtown.

"I got involved in politics and government and the community to help people and make a difference," Johnson said before about 80 supporters at Midtown sports bar Mustang Harry's. "I love these neighborhoods and the West Side more than I can express."

Kurland, who is also openly gay, ran unsuccessfully against Quinn in the 2009 election and her campaign this year focused on her fight against the shutdown of St. Vincent's Hospital.

But voters rallied behind Johnson, who stressed his experience on Community Board 4, which he's chaired since 2011. 

"I like what he stands for and I know he's dedicated to the community," said Mary Anne Totaro, a 67-year-old resident of the Fulton Houses.

Kurland conceded the race before a group of about two dozen supporters at the Ritz bar on West 46th Street.

"The work continues, the work continues. Thank you all. You're amazing," she said.

Quinn, who served as city councilwoman for the district since 1999, declined to endorse in the race.

"I know both of them and I wish them both well," Quinn said just before voting at P.S. 33 on Tuesday morning.  

At times, the race between the candidates got nasty, with Kurland attacking Johnson for working for GFI Development Co. and accusing him of being tied to real estate developers.

Johnson, in turn, questioned Kurland about her gun ownership — Kurland has said she had a gun permit when she was executive director of a language school, and claimed she was required to do so by the Department of Homeland Security.

Supporters also got into an argument — which a cop had to break up — over accusations of electioneering outside of a polling station in Manhattan Plaza on Tuesday.

Kurland, at her election night party Tuesday evening, called Johnson's campaign a work of "evil genius."

"They ran a hateful, hideous campaign against us with all sorts of attacks and distortions," she said. She vowed to continue her advocacy work in the neighborhood, chiefly in the areas of healthcare and low-cost housing.

"My community still doesn't have a hospital," Kurland said.

Johnson said his top priorities were to expand affordable housing in the neighborhood, improve public schools, and make sure there's a hospital for the area with the closure of St. Vincent's.

"I think the first order of business is to listen to the residents of this district, to try to start being responsive," he said.

He also singled out Quinn for serving on the council for over a decade.

"We can disagree on certain issues that come before us, but I just want to thank her for her service on the West Side," he said.