New York Post

Fear top of mind for NYC early voters


Crime-weary New Yorkers began casting ballots Saturday for the start of early voting in the hotly contested race for the next governor.

The polls opened at 9 a.m. across the Big Apple, with some voters showing up soon after.

“I feel less safe in New York City now,” said Lower East Sider Vicky Shi, a registered Republican who voted straight GOP at a school complex on Henry Street. “I just feel sick about the past few years and democracy . . . just disappoint­ed.”

A voter in Bay Ridge told The Post he was a registered Democrat — but said crime and other factors were motivating him to vote Republican.

“Democrats are ruining the city,” the man said. “Crime is up, they’re focused on issues that aren’t important. The current leadership is dropping the ball on every issue.”

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin is challengin­g incumbent Democratic Gov. Hochul at the top of the ticket. Congressio­nal contests are also on the ballot.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared at a campaign event with Zeldin on Long Island, blasting Democratic policies that are “coddling” criminals and leading to residents moving down South.

“We need to focus more on supporting the rights of the victims of crime and not be so concerned with the rights of the criminal. Lee Zeldin will not coddle these people,” DeSantis said. “He will hold them accountabl­e and you will be safer as a result.”

Bay Ridge resident Maria Attardo, 69, a retired teacher and former Democrat, said she, too, was supporting Zeldin.

“I don’t like our governor now. She just doesn’t do anything,” Attardo said. “I’m definitely concerned about crime.”

Manny Cartagena, 65, who lives in the Gouverneur Gar

dens co-op complex on the Lower East Side, said he was spurred to vote blue.

“The economy and inflation is important — definitely very important — but a woman’s right to choose is a big one for me,” Cartagena said.

He said he wanted to vote early because he was worried about the potential for violence as Election Day on Nov. 8 draws closer.

“I mean, you’re hearing in the news just a lot of things going on and so it’s better to get out there and vote early and don’t wait until the last minute,” he said.

In Bay Ridge, where voters were choosing between Republican incumbent Rep. Nicole Malliotaki­s and Democratic challenger Max Rose, the city’s rising crime rate was a deciding factor for some.

An 81-year-old Bay Ridge man said he, too, cast his ballot for Republican­s. “I will never vote for a Democrat ever again,” he said. “They’ve destroyed the education system, they’ve destroyed crime, everything.”

Zeldin, speaking to a crowd of about 250 Saturday at a rally in Middle Village, Queens, said there was a “crime emergency” in the state.

“If Kathy Hochul will not declare it, if the state Legislatur­e right now will not come to the table to fix it, we will make the state Legislatur­e come to the table on day one,” Zeldin said. “As soon as we are sworn into office, we will declare a crime emergency here.”

Earlier Saturday, he told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that NYPD cops were furious that their union donated $25,000 to Hochul’s campaign.

“We have heard from a lot of NYPD officers who are pissed off learning that their money went to Hochul, who is pandering to these pro-criminal allies in the state Legislatur­e,” Zeldin said.

The polls will close at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and then follow a varying schedule through Nov. 6. They will close for one day ahead of reopening for Election Day.

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