2000-07-05 / Political Page

Labor Leader Cheliotes Eyes Bayside Council Seat In 2001

Labor Leader Cheliotes Eyes
Bayside Council Seat In 2001

There’s no doubt that large campaign war chests are a major factor in winning elections, and for that reason, campaign aides to labor leader Arthur Cheliotes, who’s eyeing northwest Queens 19th District City Council seat in next year’s elections, are looking forward to the July 15th Campaign Finance Report.

"We think the next report on candidates’ fund-raising will reflect a very impressive start for our candidate, "stated Peter Krokendelas, a top aide to Cheliotes, president for the past 21 years of Local 1180, Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, (CWA) a municipal workers’ local.

Krokendelas refused to give a clue to how much Cheliotes has raised so far, asking us to be patient for another couple of weeks. But, he added, "Besides his very powerful labor support, he has strong ties to community groups and also the Greek community."

Cheliotes, running for public office for the first time, is running for the seat presently held by Councilmember Mike Abel in the Bayside–College Point– Whitestone area. Among his likely opponents are Tony Avella and Jerry Iannece, who bring solid community activist credentials to their campaigns. Avella is a longtime community and youth activist, and as a Democratic district leader will have heavy political support. Iannece, a former Astoria resident, has quickly moved into the forefront of community activity in his new home area, serving as president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association. So as we watch to see what Cheliotes’ campaign fund-raising has produced thus far, it will be interesting to compare how these two respectable opponents are faring in the campaign cash battle.

Cheliotes, 52, was born and raised in Jamaica. He was working in a Welfare Department income maintenance center in the early 1970s when he first became active in CWA activities. He was elected the local’s president in 1979 and has served in that capacity since then. The unions 8,000 members work in administrative and supervisory positions in various government agencies, including the mayors office, Transit Authority and Housing Authority.

Cheliotes also holds office at the highest levels of the municipal labor force and is founder and president of the Greek-American Labor Committee. He serves on the board of HANAC, the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee, a citywide community service organization with an office in Astoria.

Cheliotes, who holds a bachelor of arts degree from Queens College, is married and has three grown children.

STRANGE TWIST: In a strange political twist, Community Board 1 District Manager George Delis and Constantinos (Gus) Prentzas find themselves on opposite sides in this year’s election skirmishes in the 36th Assembly District (Astoria/ Long Island City/Jackson Heights.)

Delis supported Prentzas for the 36th AD Democratic state committeeman’s post two years ago. Prentzas won, defeating the Democratic organization incumbent, Rosario Drago. After winning, Prentzas joined the Taminent Regular Democratic Club and cut himself loose from Delis. Previous to the 1998 race, Delis had helped Prentzas to win election to Community School Board 30.

This year, Delis is again supporting Kimon Thermos for the Democratic nomination for 36th AD assemblymember. But Prentzas is running on the same slate with Michael Gianaris; who’s opposing Thermos in the Democratic primary on Sept. 12th

Delis is also taking dead aim at Prentzas, his erstwhile protege, running Norma Nieves against him for the state committee post.

OTHER SIDE OF LEDGER: Meanwhile in eight days we’ll know for sure who’s running for what this year. July 13th is the first day for filing nominating petitions. But at this point it looks like Vince Tabone will opt to run for the 36th AD assembly seat.

The district’s Republican leader told the Gazette last week that he’s "very much leaning toward" becoming the candidate. Tabone said he’s basing his decision on "the very positive response I’ve been getting at various public functions. It’s been very encouraging."

Last Sunday, he reported, he was very warmly received at Festival at St. Francis Church, an event attended by about 1,000 people honoring a saint from a part of Sicily also home to Tabone’s forebears.

"I was really overwhelmed by the reception I got there," Tabone said.

HOUSE OK’S BAY $: Following last week’s report that the House Appropriations Committee had approved $1 million for the continuing cleanup of Flushing Bay, the full House passed the measure last Tuesday evening, Congressmember Joseph Crowley reports.

The funds will permit the Army Corps of Engineers to continue a feasibility study of improving the bay’s water and to dredge about 100,000 yards of material in late 2001.

MALONEY PURSUES HOLOCAUST ISSUE: Last week, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Manhattan/Queens) called on a congressional committee to provide adequate funding for an agency called the Nazi War Criminals Interagency Working Group, which is declassifying federal government documents to uncover Nazi war crimes, including the Holocaust. Maloney was the author of the original War Crimes Disclosure Act in 1998. The law set up the declassifying project.

Maloney cited evidence of the effectiveness of the declassification work, saying, "These documents show that we had evidence during the war that the Nazi leaders were ready to extend their systematic destruction of the Jews in Italy before it began. "The lawmaker, in asking for more funding, said the declassification work must be done expeditiously because "fewer Holocaust survivors are alive to witness the truth being revealed each year."

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