Looking down the road to the 2005 mayoral election, former Republican City Councilmember Tom Ognibene of Middle Village sees recent tax hikes still draining Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s re-election prospects. Ognibene says he plans to challenge the mayor for the Republican Party nomination if he seeks re-election.
The former three-term councilmember, who was forced out of office by term limits in 2001, said he has formed a campaign committee and is planning fund-raisers to challenge Bloomberg, an ex-Democrat.
Ognibene, will face a tough, uphill battle against the mayor, who spent $76 million to spring an upset and get elected two years ago. But the Middle Village attorney expects to get the Conservative Party endorsement and, even if he’s not on the Republican line, could drain GOP votes and hinder Bloomberg’s chances of being re-elected.
However, the mayor has two years to repair the damage to his political career caused by several tax increases obtained earlier this year to get a balanced budget. He has been talking about repealing those taxes if the economy improves, which would help his re-election chances immensely. Also, he won some points with his performance during last week’s blackout so he could be on the road to regaining his popularity.
PRIMARY LINEUP: As matters stand at the moment, eight incumbent Queens councilmembers will not be involved in the September 9 primaries; the remaining seven presently face primary challenges, but several are still in court trying to get opponents off the ballot. These court actions possibly may not be settled until the eve of the primary if appeals are taken to higher courts.
The eight councilmembers who don’t face challenges are: Tony Avella, 19th Council District (D-Bayside/Whitestone); Peter Vallone Jr., 22nd District (D-Astoria); David Weprin, 23rd District (D-Hollis/Queens Village); Helen Sears, 25th District (D-Jackson Heights); Eric Gioia, 26th District (D-Woodside/Sunnyside); Melinda Katz, 28th District (D-Forest Hills); Dennis Gallagher, 30th District (R- Middle Village/Ridgewood), and Joseph Addabbo Jr., 32nd District (D-Ozone Park).
Incumbents facing primaries are John Liu, 20th District (D-Flushing), opposed by Isaac Sasson; Hiram Monserrate, 21st District (D-Corona), challenged by Luis Jiminez; James Gennaro, 24th District (D-Fresh Meadows), challenged by David Reich and Florence Fisher; Leroy Comrie, 27th District (D-St. Albans), opposed by Helen Cooper–Gregory; James Sanders Jr., 31st District (D-Laurelton), who faces Everly Brown and Diana Reyna, 34th District (D-Bushwick/Ridgewood) whose newly drawn district includes a portion of Ridgewood, Queens and who is opposed by Juan Martinez of Brooklyn.
In the 28th District (Jamaica), incumbent Allan Jennings was disqualified. as well as Carolyn Younger, Garth Marchant, Stephen Jones and Interdit Singh, leaving only Yvonne Reddick on the ballot. Reddick is the Queens Democratic organization choice. She is a Democratic district leader and Community Board 12 district manager.
In the only Republican party primary action, Michael Mossa became the party’s candidate in the 32nd District (Ozone Park) when Richard Iritano was knocked off the ballot.
Jennings waged a strong fight trying to stay in the race, but a court found he did not have the required 900 valid signatures on his nominating petitions and he was disqualified last week. He charged that he was targeted by the Democratic organization because of his independence.
However, party Chairman Thomas Manton called Jennings a crybaby and said he should have known how to collect nominating petitions, given his many years in politics. Jennings was elected in 2001.
Eight incumbents are already assured places on the ballot in the November 4 general elections. The other candidates are favored to win their primary elections, given their incumbent status and their support by the county organization.
VALLONE JR. SPEAKS IN FLUSHING: Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) will get a chance to expound on his proposal to make New York City the nation’s 51st state when he makes a guest appearance at the John F. Kennedy Regular Democratic Club of Queens, 78-31 Parsons Blvd., Flushing tomorrow night at 8 p.m.
Speaking on the topic "New York City As The Fifty-First State," Vallone will lay out his case to give New York City its independence. There is a long list of inequities in the city’s relations with Albany he has said, including being short-changed in education fiscal aid, burdensome Medicaid payments, lack of transit aid and opposition to reinstating the commuter tax.
For information, contact Jeff Gottlieb at 917-376-4496 or 718-896-4416. The JFK Club’s Democratic district leaders are Charlotte Scheman and former Councilmember Morton Povman. The club serves the communities of Briarwood, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills and Richmond Hill.