I on politics
The Republican Party has not had a representative in the state Assembly from Queens since 1996, eight years ago, when Douglas Prescott from Bayside served his last term and was defeated by Ann Margaret Carrozza for the seat covering the northeast section of the borough.
This year, borough Republicans are putting their hopes on re-entering the lower house at the state legislature on four candidates: Meilin Tan in Flushing’s 22nd Assembly District against newcomer Jimmy Meng; Peter Boudouvas of Bayside against 26th AD incumbent Carrozza; Jereline Hunter, who’s challenging incumbent Assemblymember Vivian Cook in the 32nd AD (South Ozone Park), and Giash Ahmed of Jackson Heights against one-term incumbent Assemblymember Jose Peralta in Corona’s 39th AD.
Of these, it appears to us that Boudouvas would have the best chance of winning, although Carrozza has now served that district for three terms and doesn’t seem to be facing any particular problem in winning a fourth term.
However, the district covering Bayside, Beechhurst, Douglaston, Whitestone and Little Neck, has shown Republican strength in the past. The greatest example of that is it’s included in Republican state Senator Frank Padavan’s district. Padavan has held that post since 1973, more than 30 years. Prescott was in office for a total of 14 years and Mike Abel held the City Council seat covering that area for almost a decade.
Boudouvas is no stranger to the district. A 40 year-old small business owner and electrical engineer by profession, he has lived in Bayside for 16 years, has been a political activist as a member of the Northeast Queens Republican Club and the Bayside Conservative Club, and more importantly, has served as a community representative for Padavan for the past four years, attending community meetings as Padavan’s surrogate.
Boudouvas says that as a small business owner, he’s “troubled with the tax burden imposed on small businesses as well as the increasing trend of passing down health insurance costs to employees.”
These issues, as well as “reducing taxes on our middle class families to reduce the middle class squeeze and stimulate growth to create jobs” are two of his strongest campaigning points.
Boudouvas, who’s single, has been endorsed by Padavan and Abel and has the support of the Republican establishment in the district and the county.
During the campaign, we’ll be reporting closely on Boudouvas’s other positions and on Carrozza’s stands on the issues and her record and how each views the campaign. We’ll also try to factor in what the effect the presidential campaign might have on the local race. This looks like one of the more interesting elections taking place this year.
FOCUS ON CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS: Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council will resume their dialogue this week on campaign contributions, a testy issue mostly for the councilmembers because donations from supporters fuel their election campaign while the mayor, an independently wealthy man, does not take contributions and would like to limit them for councilmembers and his mayoral opponents.
Yesterday, the mayor introduced a proposal to clamp down on contributions to councilmembers from people who do business with the city and to eliminate government matching funds for those donations. Obviously, this change in the campaign finance law would face tough sledding in the council.
Today the council will hold a hearing on legislation proposed by the city lawmakers to increase the legal limits on campaign contributions.
Just on the face of it, these rival proposals will fuel a loud and emotional debate. Under the mayor’s proposal, contributions from people doing business with the city would be limited to $250 for any candidate who receives matching funds from the city. Currently the limits are $2,750 in council races, $3,850 for borough president contests, and $4,950 for mayoral, comptroller and public advocate elections.
As this proposal applies to mayoral candidates, it presents the prospect of limiting their resources while the mayor, who reportedly has a $5 billion fortune, would be free to spend an unlimited amount of money to try for re-election next year, perhaps more than the $75 million he spent to get elected the first time in 2001.
The proposed council legislation up for a hearing today would raise the limit on matchable donations to $500 from $250 or increase the city’s matching funds to $6 for every $1 contribution received (up from $4 for each $1.
GIANARIS’ SENIOR FORUM: This Friday (Oct. 1), Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria) will hold his annual public forum on “Issues and Concerns of Seniors and People With Disabilities in Western Queens.” It will be held at the Peter J. Dellamonica Senior Center, 23-56 Broadway in Astoria, starting at 2 p.m.
Among the panelists will be Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria), 114th Police Precinct Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector David N. Barrere, and representatives from many agencies that deal with senior citizen and disabled issues.
PATAKI–CLINTON DISPUTE: Governor George Pataki and United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton got into a tiff last week about how $4.5 million should be allotted to a counselling program for cops and firefighters affected by the September 11 terrorist attack.
Clinton wanted the funding to be added to a Senate bill, and wanted Pataki to support her proposal. The governor responded that the federal funds are already set aside for use by New York City. But he also said that the state was willing to put up $2 million for the program and the city, with Bloomberg in agreement, will put up the remaining $2.45 million to fund the program beyond 2005.
Clinton had insisted that the $4.5 million was unused and hadn’t been allocated for any specific purpose. House Republicans sided with the governor and voted down the Clinton amendment.
WEINER SEEKS DIWALI STAMP: Diwali is a five-day festival of lights which celebrates the Hindu New Year, observed by people in more than 120 countries, including the United States. Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn), has asked the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp commemorating the holiday.
Weiner points out that the stamp will serve as a fitting tribute to the many contributions of Indian people in the United States. He is supported by, among others Congressmembers Joseph Crowley and Nita Lowey.
Weiner also argues that commemorative stamps have been issued for many other religious holidays, including Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa.
LIBERTARIAN PARTY MEETING: On Saturday, October 9, the Libertarian Party of Queens will feature Stephen Kagann, the chief economist of New York state, in a talk on “Good News and Bad News for the New York Economy.” Kagann will give a review of the impact of federal, state and local government policies on jobs, income and growth in the city and the state. The meeting will be held at Bohemian Hall, 29-19 24th Ave., Astoria from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend.