2004-09-09

Light Ballot For Primary Day Next Tuesday

by john toscano


Congressmember Joseph Crowley, l., state Senator John Sabini, below, and Assemblymember Barry Grodenchik, r. all appear to be winners.
Congressmember Joseph Crowley, l., state Senator John Sabini, below, and Assemblymember Barry Grodenchik, r. all appear to be winners. Following closely on the heels of the Republican convention and the massive protests it generated as President George W. Bush reeled in his party’s nomination to seek a second term, next Tuesday will be Primary Day in Queens and throughout the city.

The races for party nominations, will not offer the excitement and fanfare which the four-day GOP fest created. Only three Democratic Party contests will be on the ballot, along with one involving the Republicans as 28 incumbents running for re-election in the borough this November escaped primary challenges.

Automatically placed in nomination for the general election November 2 are United States Senator Charles Schumer, four congressmembers, six state senators and 17 assembly members.

Facing challenges on Tuesday are three Democrats: Congressmember Joseph Crowley, state Senator John Sabini and Assemblymember Barry Grodenchik. All appear to be winners.

On the other side of the aisle, a rare Republican Party primary in the Fifth Congressional district in northeast Queens between Stephen Graves of Flushing and Gonzalo Policarpio of Little Neck. The winner in this contest will face Congressmember Gary Ackerman on Election Day, November 2.

The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Only registered Democrats residing in the three districts where primaries will be held will be permitted to vote in those contests. The same applies to the Republican primary in the 5th CD. Only Republicans registered to vote in the district are permitted to vote in the Graves–Policarpio contest.

Crowley, the incumbent from Elmhurst who represents the 7th CD, which takes in parts of Queens and The Bronx, is facing three challengers, all from The Bronx. They are Curtis Brooks, Dennis Coleman, and Aniello Grimaldi.

Even if he had only a single opponent, Crowley would be a strong favorite to win the nomination to run for a fourth two-year term. He has a very high degree of voter recognition, enhanced by his 12 years as an Assemblymember prior to being elected to Congress in 1988.

Crowley has also been a Democratic district leader in the Elmhurst/Maspeth area. This will ensure that his political organization will get out every possible vote for him in the Queens portion of the district. Supporters in The Bronx will likewise assist in his election effort.

Besides his high voter recognition and political clout, the best reason Crowley is expected to win is his excellent record as a congressmember over the past six years.

The energetic lawmaker, who has several key committee assignments, has been on the front lines in fighting for issues of importance to his constituents. These include immigration matters, making lower priced prescription drugs available for seniors and reduction of noise and air pollution from airplanes flying in and out of LaGuardia Airport and limiting flights at that facility.

In the 13th state senate district, Democratic incumbent Senator John Sabini is opposed by Luis Rosero of Corona as he seeks a second term. Sabini, a former City Councilmember from Jackson Heights, who lost that post because of term limits, has long been active in his area’s civic and political affairs.

As a Democratic Party district leader for many years and a civic leader before that, Sabini is well acquainted with the problems and needs of his home grounds, which make up a good portion of the senate district.

In waging his campaign against Rosero, Sabini has gained the support of local Democratic Party leaders throughout the senate district, which includes Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst and a sliver of Woodside.

These include his longtime co-leader in Jackson Heights, Councilmember Helen Sears, and Rudolph Greco, who is scheduled to replace Sabini in the party leadership position. Other leaders involved in the campaign are Sabini staff members Ellen Raffaele and Michael Den Decker, Corona leaders Jim Smith and Veta Brome, James Lisa and Barbara Jackson, and Daniel Dromm and Flor Rodriquez.

Sabini recently opened campaign headquarters at 83-11 37 Ave., Jackson Heights. The leaders were present to pledge their support and did some campaigning with the candidate in that area.

Sabini told them, that with their support he would be able to continue “to apply my years of legislative experience to my latest fight for progress in Albany and a fair share for western Queens.”

Rosero, an attorney who is active in the immigrant community, has won the endorsements of two men who formerly had sought the 13th District seat in 2002—Nestor Diaz and Charles Castro.

In his endorsement, Diaz said it was “high time that our community unite to support candidates that not only are reflective of the population they represent, but share a common sentiment of the challenges we face.”

Regarding Rosero, Diaz said, “As an attorney that deals with a litany of cases that involve the large and growing immigrant population in this community, we need a leader that will advocate for us.”

Castro described Rosero as “bright, intelligent, politically astute and independent.” He called upon the community “to unite, and I ask all those that voted for me in 2002 to vote this September for Luis Rosero.”

Rosero said that in the 2002 primary, Castro and Diaz combined received more than 55 percent of the primary vote.

Rosero said the endorsements were a demonstration of unity and strength. He added, “Our very diverse community has come into its own and demands political empowerment from the grassroots. We should never again allow our leadership to be chosen by a few men in a smoke-filled back room.”

In a late development in the campaign, Rosero accused Sabini’s campaign workers of allegedly tearing down his posters and vandalizing his campaign office.

Responding to Rosero’s charges, Sabini stated, “Nobody in my campaign did anything like that. If that happened, he should go to the police because that’s a crime and should be reported.”

The primary battle in Flushing’s 22nd Assembly District has incumbent Barry Grodenchik challenged by Ben Singer and Jimmy Meng.

Grodenchik has the support of the regular Democratic organization in the area, including Councilmember John Liu, who is also running for re-election as Democratic district leader with his co-leader Martha Flores–Vasquez.

Aligned with Grodenchik and Liu on what they call the Flushing Unity State, are Ellen Young, from Liu’s staff, and Terence Park. Both are running for Democratic district leader positions.

Singer, a retired Flushing businessman, is backed by the Democratic Club of Flushing, headed by former legislator Julia Harrison, who is running for re-election as Democrat district leader with co-leader John Rosario. The 75-year-old Singer chided Grodenchik for the Assembly’s failure to pass a state budget on time and promised to bring his longtime experience in business into play if he’s elected.

The Singer slate survived a court challenge to knock it off the ballot.

Meng, who ran against Grodenchik in the 2000 Democratic primary and, by his own account, lost by 126 votes, is a community leader and building supply business owner in Flushing. He has reportedly poured more than $100,000 into his campaign.

Republican primaries in Queens are few and far between, so the Graves/Policarpio race has created some interest not only as a rarity but also because state Senator Frank Padavan the most prominent Republican in the borough, particularly in northeast Queens, is supporting Policarpio against Graves. Graves is the Queens GOP organization’s choice.

Policarpio, who holds a masters’ degree in public administration from NYU, is a retired U.S. immigration officer. The Phillipine Island-born pol who came to the United States in 1973, wants to serve in Congress because, “As a New Yorker who worked hard to reach the American dream, I can better represent the people’s demands, needs and aspirations.” According to his campaign literature, he supports America’s war on terrorism, wants full enforcement of equal opportunity laws, better senior centers with advanced facilities, financial incentives and tax credits for college students and transformation of downtown Flushing into a “tourist haven.”

Padavan said that at the time he endorsed Policarpio, the Queens organization decided to back Graves against Crowley. Graves changed his mind later and chose Ackerman as his opponent, but by then Padavan was locked in to backing Policarpio he said.

Graves, 35 and a resident of Bayside, operates a business which researches nutritional products. His positions, therefore are business-oriented and follow closely President George W. Bush’s platform.

He said, “We’ve got to make sure we are secure and Washington should give as a good share of anti-terror funds because we need it most.” He proposes continuing with the tax cuts that the president started in order to help small business, which create most jobs. He said the high cost of doing business is forcing many small companies to leave the state.

Graves, a Bayside resident for about nine years, is single. He belongs to the Northeast Queens Republican Club and has been endorsed in the primary by the Queens Republican Party organization.

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