2003-09-03 / Front Page

Few Primary Contests On Tap In Qns Next Tuesday

by john toscano

Councilmember John LiuCouncilmember John Liu

In what could be one of the lightest Primary Day ballots in recent memory, Democratic voters in Queens will go to the polls next Tuesday in only six districts to select party candidates for the fall elections.

Of the six challenged Democratic incumbents, all but one are expected to have clear sailing in being renominated.

The other incumbents, eight Democrats and one Republican, escaped primary challenges.

There will be no activity for Republicans because no contests developed among their party members.

Councilmember Hiram MonserrateCouncilmember Hiram Monserrate

The polls will be open for balloting from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Under state election laws, only Democrats can vote in their party primaries.

City Councilmembers, all of whom were elected two years ago are running again for another two-year term because council districts were changed under the redistricting mandated following the 2000 census.

The contests that will be on the ballot next Tuesday will be in the following districts where the opposing candidates will be:

•Councilmember John Liu and challenger Isaac Sasson in the 20th District (Flushing).

Councilmember James GennaroCouncilmember James Gennaro

•Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, opposed by Luis Jiminez in the 21st District (Corona/East Elmhurst).

•Councilmember James Gennaro facing two opponents, David Reich and Florence Fisher, in the 24th district (Fresh Meadows/Jamaica Estates).

•Councilmember Leroy Comrie, challenged by Helen Cooper-Gregory in 27th District (St. Albans).

•Councilmember Allan Jennings Jr., opposed by Yvonne Reddick, the regular Democratic organization choice, and Inderjit Singh in the 28th District (Jamaica).

Councilmember Alan JenningsCouncilmember Alan Jennings

•Councilmember Diana Reyna, opposed by Juan D. Martinez in the new Queens/Brooklyn 34th District covering Ridgewood and Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Democratic incumbents who avoided primary challenges and will not be on the ballot next Tuesday are Councilmembers Tony Avella, 19th District (Bayside), Peter Vallone Jr., 22nd District (Astoria), David Weprin, 23rd District (Hollis), Helen Sears, 25th District (Jackson Heights), Eric Gioia, 26th District (Woodside), Melinda Katz, 27th District (Forest Hills) and Joseph Addabbo Jr., 32nd District (Ozone Park).

Queens’ only Republican lawmaker, Councilmember Dennis Gallagher, 30th District (Middle Village), also was not challenged.

Of those running on Tuesday, the only one facing a tough contest is Jennings. He will have the full weight of the county Democratic organization against him. Democratic County Leader Thomas Manton has vowed to pull out all the stops to get Reddick, the party’s designated choice, nominated. Reddick is district manager of Community Board 12 and also a local Democratic Party District Leader.

Two years ago, Jennings managed to stave off the regular Democratic organization and win election. Since then, he has been independent of the organization in his council activities. Manton’s forces thought they had gotten Jennings out of their hair when they challenged his nominating petitions in a nine-day trial in Jamaica Supreme Court. The judge ruled him off the ballot, but a five-judge Appellate Division panel overturned the verdict and placed him back on the ballot for the Democratic primary.

The only stranger to Queens Democratic voters in the Tuesday primary balloting will be Reyna. She has represented the Bushwick and Ridgewood areas of Brooklyn for the past two years. But in the reapportionment of Queens council districts, part of Ridgewood, Queens was moved into her 34th District, so she will face those voters for the first time.

There was a fierce effort by Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) and community activists to block the plan placing part of Ridgewood in the redrawn district. Whether this will be reflected in an anti-Reyna vote on Tuesday, only the completed tally will tell.

Meanwhile, the Citizens Union, a non-partisan government watchdog organization, announced that it has given its "preferred" rating to candidates Liu, Monserrate, Reddick and Reyna, among others. The group issued a dual preference to Gennaro and David Reich, one of his opponents.

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