2002-05-22 / Political Page

Queens Dems Set Election Slate;

Queens Dems Set Election Slate;

Few Primaries Expected

By John Toscano

Queens Democrats voted to support H. Carl McCall for governor at their party caucus on Monday, with only a single vote cast for former Queens resident Andrew Cuomo.

With the state Democratic Convention set to lift off today in Manhattan, it appears McCall will receive more than the 50 percent of the vote to become the party’s official designee to challenge Governor George Pataki in the November election. But it’s likely Cuomo will receive the required 25 percent of the state committee vote at the convention to set up a McCall–Cuomo primary on September 10.

The Queens Democrats, meeting at their Forest Hill headquarters, also voted to support Westchester businessman Dennis Meheil for Lieutenant Governor, Alan Hevesi for state comptroller and incumbent Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for re-election.

On the local level, all Assembly and state Senate incumbents were designated for re-election.

The only contentious votes at the morning meeting involved the newly created Assembly and state Senate seats in Flushing and Corona, which were ostensibly created to provide representation of ethnic minorities.

In Flushing, the party voted to back Barry Grodenchik for the new Assembly seat and incumbent Senator Toby Stavisky for re-election.

In Corona, labor union official Jose Peralta was tapped for the Assembly and former Councilmember John Sabini for the new Senate seat.

Grodenchik, who lost a Council primary to James Gennaro (D–Jamaica Estates) last year, already has a challenge in the Assembly primary from Ethel Chen and Jimmy Meng. Chen, who also lost a Council primary last year to John Liu (D–Flushing), is running on a ticket with former Councilmember Julia Harrison, who’s opposing Stavisky in the Senate primary.

This will be the organization’s toughest pair of races and can be expected to put plenty of effort into it. Maximum resistance can also be expected from Chen and Harrison. The latter has her own party organization and high voter recognition and Chen will augment her strength with support in the Asian American community.

In Corona, the Dems wisely put together a mixed slate of Sabini and Peralta, a Hispanic. Sabini has represented part of the Senate district for many years and should be able to pull a strong vote for the primary. For Democrats, that’s the major hurdle because they heavily outweigh Republicans in general elections.

The organization added further ethnic balance to their slates as for the first time, they designated a Hispanic Diccia Pineda–Kirwan, for a judgeship. Pineda–Kirwan, 47, is presently a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice William Glover.

When the final convention gavel fell, Michael Reich, the organization’s executive secretary, summed up, "We had to put out a lot of fires, but we have strong support and harmony for all of our designers."

LIU SEEKS COMMUTER VAN DEPOT: Councilmember John Liu, the Council Transportation Committee chairman, is having a serious transportation problem in his own backyard which is creating a major traffic headache. To solve both he’s devised a plan to set up a depot for the 20 or so vans which commute between the downtown Flushing commercial district and Chinatown in lower Manhattan.

Liu, at an onsite meeting recently with Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Matthew Daus, showed Daus a site on 41st Avenue near College Point Boulevard which is presently set aside for metered parking but would work well as a van pickup/discharge station.

Liu said the traffic jams created by the vans and the usually heavy vehicular traffic at 41st Avenue and Main Street have generated the most complaints for him. Daus said he’ll study the whole situation, including checking out how safe the van operations are.

MALONEY PRESENTS FLAG: Last Sunday, a host of local youths pitched in at the Elmjack Little League Field in Jackson Heights to pack children’s clothes, medical supplies, baseball gear and school supplies for youths and families in the Dominican Republic. The materials will be shipped there in honor of those lost when flight 587 crashed in Belle Harbor earlier this year.

Taking part in the effort was Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan), who presented an American flag which had flown over the United States Capitol to the youths. Maloney lauded the youths who were participating in the effort on behalf of their counterparts in the Dominican Republic.

HISPANIC ON PATAKI TICKET: Furthering his quest for votes from the Hispanic community in his re-election bid, Governor George Pataki has chosen Dora Irizarry, a Puerto Rico-born judge from Manhattan, as the Republican candidate for state Attorney General.

Irizarry, a Court of Claims judge faces an uphill battle against Democratic incumbent Elliot Spitzer. Before Pataki appointed her to her present position, she served on the Criminal Court Branch by appointment of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

HEVESI ENDORSED: Just in time for the Democratic convention tomorrow, Forest Hills’ Alan Hevesi picked up endorsements from three upstate Democratic county chairmen, which should help to nail down his party’s nomination for state comptroller.

The former city comptroller was also endorsed by former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton.

CONGRESS COMING TO NYC: Congress will meet in New York City to commemorate the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center on September 6. Congressmember Vito Fossella (R–Staten Island), who has been arranging the meeting on behalf of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said the likely location will be Federal Hall in the Wall Street area. The building was once the U.S. Customs House.

CONSERVATIVES MEET: Tom Long, Queens Conservative Party chairman, announced that candidates seeking his organization’s endorsement in this year’s elections have been invited to the county organization meeting tomorrow night at 8 p.m. at the American Legion Continental Post 424 at 107-16 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills.

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