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Competing Candidates Cross Endorse in Tactic Brought About by Rank Choice Voting

Debra Markell and Harpreet S. Toor are both running to represent the 23rd Council District in eastern Queens. The pair both called on their supporters to rank the other second (Photo: Twitter)

June 9, 2021 By Ryan Songalia

Several city council candidates who are competing against one another are cross endorsing in a new tactic brought about by rank choice voting.

Nabaraj KC and Austin Shafran, both candidates running to represent District 19 in northeast Queens, announced their support Tuesday for one another as their number two choices in the upcoming Democratic primary.

The cross-endorsement came the same day that two candidates in another Queens race – Debra Markell and Harpreet Singh Toor in District 23 – announced a similar partnership. Their district, which is currently represented by Barry Grodenchik, encompasses Douglaston, Little Neck, Glen Oaks and surround areas.

The concept of supporting a rival in the same race is a new concept in New York City politics.

“Never before in the history of NYC elections have candidates looked to collaborate in the way that’s happening now,” said Donald Kaplan, Toor’s campaign manager. “Everything was pure competition, and now ranked choice has created an opportunity for people to work together.”

Thomas Musich, communications director for the Nabaraj KC campaign, noted that cross-endorsements of candidates in the same races has happened in other cities with ranked choice voting, like San Francisco. He says it is likely to become more prevalent in New York, depending on the outcomes in these races.

“I think there’s a lot more collaboration and there’s a lot less negative campaigning,” Musich said in reference to ranked choice voting. “[Negative campaigning] still exists of course and it’s still out there, but I think it’s definitely toned down a bit.”

KC was endorsed by Shafran in College Point yesterday, and returned the favor today in Bayside where Shafran lives.

Both are running to replace the term-limited Paul Vallone.

“Austin and I have become good friends over the course of this campaign, and I know that as a City Council Member, he would put the needs of his constituents first,” KC said.

Shafran, who worked for former U.S. Congressman Gary Ackerman and former council member David Weprin, said KC would make the district a more family-friendly place to live.

“Nabaraj is a thoughtful and devoted leader who has consistently gone above and beyond for his community,” Shafran said.

KC said the two campaigns will canvass together and will be able to cover more territory ahead of election day on June 22.

He says the coalition building and reduction in negative campaigning means the ranked choice voting reforms are working.

“Candidates are not enemies or opponents anymore, so you have to work together,” KC said.

KC, a businessman and civic leader, would be the first Nepalese-American to be on the New York City council if elected.

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