9/11 Will Play Big Part In
Last year, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center played a pivotal role in the mayoral election.
This year, the scenario is likely to be repeated as Primary Day falls on September 10, the day before the first anniversary of the attack.
Last year, the attack occurred on Primary Day, just hours after the voting had started, and forced postponement of the balloting. The rescheduled primary was held on September 25 and ended without a clear winner. Mark Green and Fernando Ferrer were forced into a runoff on October 11.
The runoff campaign proved to be the Democrats’ undoing—accusations that Green had insulted Ferrer and questioned his ability to run the city were taken as a slur on Hispanics.
Meanwhile, the long, drawn-out Democratic primary gave Republican candidate Michael Bloomberg more time to spend millions of dollars more in attracting disillusioned Hispanic voters’ support. Eventually he pulled off a monumental upset against Green.
Bloomberg also benefitted greatly from an endorsement by outgoing Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Some of Giuliani’s popularity, heightened by his leadership from September 11 on, rubbed off on Bloomberg, an underdog who went on to victory.
This year, the approach of the September 11 anniversary is likely to grab everyone’s attention, beginning early in the month as newspapers and television will be crammed with stories of the approaching event.
Candidates will be forced to mute their campaigning, avoiding harsh attacks and decreasing the frequency of their advertising. This is likely to affect the Democratic gubernatorial primary between Andrew Cuomo and H. Carl McCall and probably the few contentious contests in Queens, such as the Toby Stavisky–Julia Harrison state Senate primary in Flushing.
Candidates in these races may have to tone down their rhetoric or possibly be accused of insensitivity toward the terrorist attack and its victims.
The winner of the Democratic primary will also be denied the huge publicity generally generated the day following the primary. In contrast, Governor George Pataki, the Republican standard bearer, will reap the benefits of coverage of his anniversary observance, activities including reminders of his major role in the recovery effort.
SABINI ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL AGAIN: A year after being denied an opportunity to run for another term in the City Council because of term limits, John Sabini is back on the campaign trail.
The former 10-year Councilmember from Jackson Heights is now running in the Democratic primary for the new 13th state Senate district seat, which covers much the same area as his former council district—Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Corona, East Elmhurst and Woodside.
Sabini is opposed by Charles Castro of Woodside, and Nestor H. Diaz in the heavily Hispanic district. However, he is the regular Democratic organization’s candidate, which should help a lot. If he wins the primary, Sabini will have a challenge in the November 5 general election because Castro will be running on three lines—Independence, Liberal and Working Families. There’s also a Republican candidate in the race, Giash Ahmed, of Jackson Heights.
Sabini has opened a headquarters at 74-09 37th Ave., between 74th and 75th Streets, Jackson Heights, Suite 417, (718) 565-0221.
CIAFONE VS. CAZILAS FOR DISTRICT LEADER: After being defeated by state Senator George Onorato several years ago in the 36 AD Part B Democratic district leader’s race, John Ciafone is now challenging the party’s Part A (Long Island City) leader, James Cazilas.
Ciafone, an attorney and School Board 30 member, said he has filed 1,800 signatures to get on the primary ballot, well over the required number, but his petitions are being challenged. In turn, Ciafone said, he’s challenging Cazilas’ petitions with about 850 signatures, but says he would be amenable to dropping the challenges along with Cazilas and letting the voters decide.
Cazilas, a pharmacist, has been active in politics for about 25 years. Two years ago he succeeded Denis Butler as Long Island City Dem leader. He’s a past president of the Powhatan Regular Democratic Club, so he’ll have lots of help in this contest.
Ciafone has tried unsuccessfully to win several elective offices, most recently last year when he was defeated by Peter Vallone Jr. in the 22nd district Democratic primary for City Council. Vallone Jr. went on to win the seat in the general election.
AVELLA CHECKLIST HELPS IN ARREST: To get a handle on constituent concerns and problems, Councilmember Tony Avella (D–Bayside) invited responses from constituents and compiled a Civic Action Checklist. Recently a complaint about a drug problem in the P.S. 32 playground at 35th Avenue and 172nd Street in Auburndale led to an arrest by the Special Unit of Police Service Unit 9, which had been alerted by Avella.
Meanwhile, Avella has filed a bill to exempt some homeowners from having to pay for new sidewalks installed by the city as part of a capital street reconstruction project.
Avella said presently the cost borne by property owners is "a huge financial burden for small homeowners many of whom are senior citizens on a fixed income."
WEPRIN AIDS WOMEN’S CENTER: Last Thursday, Councilmember David Weprin (D–Hollis) presented a check for $30,000 to Ann Jawin of Bayside, president of the Queens Women’s Center. The funds were secured by Weprin, council Finance Committee chair, from a council appropriation to help the center, which recently moved into new quarters.
NIEBAUER SHOULD BE VERY PLEASED: A couple of years ago, when Michael Niebauer of Whitestone was in a furious fight to remain as Queens Independence Party chairman, he charged his opponents were in league with Lenora Fulani, who, he said, did not believe in Independence Party principles but was using the party to further her own agenda.
Niebauer lost the fight and the party leadership role, but now Fulani, an Independence Party official in Manhattan, is being investigated by state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for her involvement with several non-profit groups and their ties to the Independence Party, which are prohibited under federal laws. One of the groups involved is the East Side Institute for Short Term Psychotherapy, headed by Fred Newman, a colleague of Fulani’s in the political party, whom Niebauer also accused of being a cultist.
No doubt, Spitzer’s probe must be very satisfying to Niebauer.