By Celia Bernhardt and Charlie Finnerty
Vickie Paladino won reelection to City Council to represent District 19 for a second term, defeating former State Senator Tony Avella, who also held the seat in the past. Taking home 60 percent of the vote in contrast to her narrow 47 percent plurality last time she faced Avella in 2021, Paladino’s win solidified her hold in eastern Queens — showing that her election to City Council as a hardline firebrand conservative could not only be repeated, but strengthened. On election night, Paladino emphasized that her victory would not have been possible without support from conservative Democrats across the aisle and the local area’s growing Asian-American population.
At around 9:30 PM, a cheering crowd from Paladino’s election party began to spill into the parking lot outside of her Bay Terrace campaign office as Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” blared over the speaker system.
“This couldn’t have been done without God—and all of our amazing volunteers that have been out since the beginning of this campaign,” Stefano Forte, Paladino’s campaign manager, said to overwhelming whoops and cheers from the crowd. “This is a mandate. The people of district 19 are telling us that Vickie Paladino is doing the job that they want.”
Paladino’s son, Thomas Paladino, took the stage after Forte.
“This race was never what the media made it out to be. We won this race from the day it was announced,” Thomas Paladino said. “This was a concoction, a figment of our opponent’s imagination. It was a concoction of the media who needed something to talk about. And I think that we put to bed the notion that there is any competition in this district for Vickie Paladino.”
“Now we can finally say that this district is rid of him once and for all,” Paladino said. “We rejected his poison. This district looked him in the eye, saw what he was saying, and said, ‘no, thank you. We’ve had enough of you. Vickie Paladino is doing the job that we want her to do. And we don’t believe you.’”
Paladino emphasized that his mother could not have won the district without votes from Democrats.
“I think that when all the votes are counted, and when everybody sees where our votes came from, they’re going to be very, very surprised about the bipartisan support that we have in this district.”
Thomas then called up Yanling Wagner, the campaign’s Asian Liaison, to embrace her. “I love Yanling—we all do,” he said. “We could not have done it without her and without the support of the Asian community.
After her son’s speech, Vickie Paladino was welcomed to the mic with thunderous applause as “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty played. She sang and danced in place as her staff held a giant sign reading “VIC-TORIOUS” behind her.
“You need any more proof than that?” she said. “My theme song.”
“We taught the people of this district that slander will not sell,” Paladino said. “We taught the people of this district that they could trust me.”
Paladino also took a moment to emphasize her gratitude to Wagner. “I want to thank Yanling for everything that she’s done with me, for me. That’s my Asian liaison. I cannot thank you enough, Yanling, from the bottom of my heart I thank you.”
A dancing conga line of Paladino’s staff and supporters formed after the speeches concluded.
Speaking directly to the Queens Ledger, Paladino expressed gratitude for her voters.
“Most important is the constituents themselves. They showed me tonight the trust that they have in me, and they cross party lines,” Paladino said. “This wasn’t Republican, this was quality of life. I resonate to everybody. I cross all barriers.”
She also relished the successful defeat of her longtime rival. “I beat [Avella] big in ‘18,” Paladino said. “I beat him again in ‘21. And now I beat him huge tonight.”
On the topic of winning as an incumbent for the first time, Paladino said she considered it “an honor.”
“Now I get the opportunity to finish the job that I started. Two years is not long enough. But I got done so much in two years that I’m looking forward to the next two. And then after that, the next four.”
“We will tackle everything that comes our way, with the same vigor that we did these last two years,” Paladino said. “There’s no such thing as problems for my office, only solutions, and the constituents know that as well. They know they can pick up the phone and call Vickie.”