BREAKING: Olechowski beats Restler in Williamsburg district leader race

Restler’s match: District leader faces challenge from CB1 chairman
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Muessig

Williamsburg Democratic district leader Lincoln Restler has met his match.

A hand recount in the tight election for the little-known party position came to an end on Tuesday night, when the Board of Elections certified Community Board 1 chairman Chris Olechowski as the winner by a margin of just 19 votes.

Judges ruled that Olechowski received 6,037 votes to the incumbent’s 6,018 — and 48 ballots were tossed out as invalid.

The candidates were neck-and-neck after the Sept. 13 primary, triggering a manual recount because they finished less than half of one percent apart in an automatic tally.

Olechowski had a lead of over 200 votes on election night, but that total fell after absentee ballots backing Restler were counted.

Restler — who took office two years ago in a narrow victory that also required a recount — painted himself as a “reformer” bent on taking down former Democratic party boss and Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Bushwick).

That call that took on urgency when Lopez staffers accused the influential politician of sexual harassment, putting the spotlight on the otherwise obscure party election.

Olechowski had Lopez’s backing, but the neighborhood activist tried to distance himself from the Assemblyman after his alleged actions came to light, calling them “reprehensible.”

Both candidates has positioned themselves as agents of change in North Brooklyn, with Restler touting his accomplishments in helping secure parkland and community gardens in the neighborhood — and big endorsements from Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Williamsburg), Borough President Markowitz, and state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights).

Olechowski framed himself as a warrior fighting against the forces of gentrification.

Neither Restler nor Olechowski returned calls for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

Voters haven’t necessarily seen the last of Restler when it comes to the race. He has the right to take the final count to court, where lawyers could discuss the invalid ballots, as well as any they deem controversial during the recount.

Incumbent Democratic district leader Lincoln Restler is out.
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short