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The councilman and the chairwoman are all smiles on Wednesday.
By Patricia Adams
and Michael V. Cusenza
Joann Ariola, longtime civic president and borough GOP district leader, has been named chairwoman of the Queens County Republican Party.
Ariola on Wednesday evening upset incumbent Chairman Bob Turner, 3-1, during a QGOP reorganization meeting in Howard Beach. The stunning victory was bolstered by what Ariola characterized as an “overwhelming” show of support from Republican committee members and district leaders throughout the county.
“I first want to say that I appreciate how far Bob Turner has taken the party, and now it is my job to pick up where he leaves off and carry out the work that is so needed,” Ariola beamed in an exclusive chat with The Forum following the event at Russo’s on the Bay, which is just a stone’s throw from her Lindenwood home.
Ariola added that the party has “much work to do, starting with the re-election of City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and the election of our other candidates from Queens as well as defeating Mayor Bill de Blasio.”
Former U.S. Rep. Turner was handed the reins of a dysfunctional QGOP in March 2015, inheriting a group in turmoil and disarray that for several years had been divided into two combative factions that hadn’t been able to see eye-to-eye on myriad issues, including leadership.
The vast majority of the membership saw the selection of Turner as a major milestone for the party in the borough.
“The war is over,” state GOP committeeman and district leader Bart Haggerty told The Forum at the time.
On Monday, many were excited about the prospects of an Ariola era.
After calling Turner “a true champion for the Republican Party,” and noting that the QGOP is “greatly appreciative for his service,” Ulrich said he was “happy” that his “good friend” Ariola, whose party roots date back some 25 years, had been elected the new county leader.
“Now more than ever, the Republican Party needs strong leaders like Joann Ariola to build new coalitions and win elections in Queens,” Ulrich noted. “Chairwoman Ariola has the experience and vision to lead the Party forward. She’s battle tested and knows what it takes to win. I support her wholeheartedly and look forward to helping her and the Executive Committee in the years ahead.”
Newly-minted Chairwoman Ariola later told The Forum that she was both “honored and humbled to have been given the support of people I have worked with and admired over the last two decades.”