2000-12-06 / Political Page

Wrong Report On Mayoral Endorsement Highlights Manton’s Predicament

Queens Democratic Leader Thomas Manton said a report that he had already decided who he will support in next year’s mayoral race was "absolutely untrue." He and party leaders won’t get around to an endorsement until next spring, he added.

Manton also pointed out that the source of the report claiming that he had endorsed city Comptroller Alan Hevesi and bypassed City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Queens’ other entrant in what has all the earmarks of a sizzling race, had retracted it the following day.

Speaking of the item that appeared in the Crain’s Insider, Manton stated, "There’s been no endorsement and it wouldn’t happen this soon. It probably will be in late winter or early spring before we sort this and 14 council races out."

Also knocking down the report was Michael Reich, the Queens organization’s executive secretary.

"The bottom line is, the story is not true", the Flushing attorney said.

Vallone and Hevesi, both longtime Queens office holders, "are very sensitive to the problem Tom faces, and neither one wants to push him into a corner," Reich said.

Manton does indeed face a daunting task, far different than that several years ago when he was out front early in the 1998 gubernatorial campaign supporting Vallone as the Democratic candidate and leading a statewide effort to make the Astoria lawmaker the unanimous choice of the party.

Although Vallone later won the nomination to oppose Governor George Pataki, Manton’s early strike failed.

Now, while other Dem county leaders around the city had an easy choice to make in endorsing a mayoral candidate, Manton is saddled with the very difficult task of choosing between the two top candidates in the race.

Reportedly, two of the area’s five county leaders are backing favorite sons and a third, Clarence Norman, from Brooklyn, is supporting Hevesi. Of the other leaders, Manhattan’s Herman Farrell Jr., an Assemblymember, is supporting Public Advocate Mark Green and Bronx Assemblymember Roberto Ramirez is supporting Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer. Staten Island who hasn’t been heard from yet.

With such a hard choice to make, Manton might just leave it up to the 64 leaders in the Queens county organization to make the choice. Judging from similar past situations, it could turn out that there won’t be unanimity behind a single candidate, anyway. It looks like that will also be the situation on the citywide scene and that the real problem for the candidates will be not just to get more votes than the others, but to get 40 percent of them and avoid a runoff election. Tough time ahead, indeed.

AVELLA ANNOUNCES: Confirming what had long been expected, College Point/Bayside activist Tony Avella formally announced on Monday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the 19th District City Council seat next year. It’s presently held by Mike Abel.

Already in the race are Jerry Iannece, a Bayside community leader, Arthur Cheliotes, a municipal labor leader, and Joyce Shephard, a community activist.

Avella, a Democratic district leader and 20 year community and political activist in northeast Queens, displayed deep Democratic organization support at his campaign unveiling at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens. The impressive display makes him the frontrunner in the contest.

Among almost 20 district leaders, state committee members and elected officials present were Congressmember Joseph Crowley, state Senator Toby Stavisky, Assemblymember Nettie Mayersohn and Avella’s 25th Assembly District, Part B, co-leader Mary Ann Dorsa.

Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin, who heads Avella’s organization as executive member of the New Century Democratic Association in Flushing, was unable to be present because Assembly Democrats were huddling in Albany planning for the upcoming session.

Avella, 49, started his career of community activism in the Bayside/College Point/Whitestone area about 20 years ago. He served as Mayor Edward I. Koch’s Queens representative from 1984 to 1991 and more recently has been active with the College Point Sports Association and the Northeast Queens Anti-Graffiti League. Avella has also been leading the effort to keep a neo-Nazi group out of the area. He resides in Whitestone.

McCAFFREY’S MANY WOULD-BE SUCCESSORS: James J. Dillon, a past candidate for public office in the Woodside/Sunnyside area, says to list him as a candidate for Councilmember Walter McCaffrey’s 26th district seat in next year’s election. He joins announced candidate Michael Kearney, ex-Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce president. Reportedly also in the race are Patrick O’Malley, who lost against Assemblymember Catherine Nolan in last September’s Democratic primary, and Matt Farrell, a top aide to Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D–Forest Hills, Rego Park).

In a recent note to us, Dillon wonders why Farrell, Chief of Staff to Koslowitz, isn’t running to succeed her in the 29th district. Farrell’s simple answer is "because Woodside is where I live and where my family has lived."

Farrell, 29 and single, said he’s lived in Woodside for eight years and "always planned to run for Walter’s seat if it became available." He’s been with Koslowitz since 1994 and during the year previous to that worked for then Manhattan Borough President Andrew Stein. Coincidentally, McCaffrey also worked for Stein, but in a higher level capacity than Farrell and several years before Farrell joined Stein.

Farrell could be calling himself "the experience candidate" as the campaign unfolds. He points out that the complete makeover in the Council in Queens and elsewhere in the city as a result of next year’s term limits elections will bring into office a very inexperienced group of freshmen members.

"My experience, gained from seven years of service with Councilmember Koslowitz, would be invaluable in the new Council," Farrell said. "None of my opponents can make that claim."

Meanwhile, Kearney held his first fundraiser last Wednesday at Dazie’s Restaurant in Sunnyside. Among the guests were Assemblymembers Nolan and Margaret Markey.

MALTESE HEADS ELECTIONS PROBE: State Senator Serphin Maltese (R–C, Middle Village) has been chosen to head the senate’s legislative task force looking into ways "to improve and simplify voting in New York state, make elections more fair and enhance public confidence in voting results."

The all-Republican task force was formed by senate majority leader Joe Bruno, Democrats said, because of veteran Senator Roy Goodman’s possible defeat at the hands of Democratic newcomer Liz Krueger, who leads the 30-year senator by about 300 votes in an ongoing recount.

But in a release disclosing his selection to head the task force, Maltese said that "the situation in Florida," where Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore are still fighting furiously to win that state through legal actions and recounts, "highlights challenges we face in our own state."

Bruno, before forming the task force, charged "There are many people in the city who vote illegally." He said he expected the Goodman–Krueger election to wind up in the courts because of many ballot box problems.

MASPETH GOP MEETING: The Maspeth Republican Club will meet next Wednesday evening for installation of officers and the club’s annual Christmas party at 7:45 p.m. at the Kowalinski Post, 61-57 Maspeth Ave., Maspeth.

Officers to be installed are Frank P. Messano, president, Greg Muller, vice president JoAnne Mugno, recording secretary, Larry Forgeone, corresponding secretary, Marilyn Messano, treasurer, and Frank Vitale, sergeant-at-arms.

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