2008-08-20 / Political Page

Light Action Looms On Primary Day, With Heavier Ballot On Election Day

Primary Day, which is just three weeks away on September 9th, will produce very little action in Queens this year—only six elections, all of them among Democrats, and four of these involving incumbents.

That's according to the official candidates list for the primary elections issued by the New York city Board of Elections dated August 12, but still subject to change.

But on Election Day in November, there will be considerably more activity in the borough, with the presidential election topping the ballot and the rejuvenated Republican Party throwing down several challenges to the Democrat-dominated congressional and state legislative ranks.

At present, of the 31 legislative seats that cover the borough, all but two are held by Democrats. The two holdouts are the state senate posts occupied by Republican lawmakers Frank Padavan and Serphin Maltese, and the Democrats have mounted serious challenges for both in an attempt not only to occupy every legislative seat covering Queens, but also perhaps help to take control of the senate away from the GOP for the first time in 40 years.

Queens Republican leader Phil Ragusa of Whitestone, who has tried to pump new energy into his organization since assuming command about a year ago, is hoping his party's competitive foray into the congressional and state legislative races will get a boost from presidential candidate John McCain at the top of the ticket.

Ragusa is placing his hopes on the trend established in past presidential year elections which showed their presidential candidate running favorably in some areas, such as Ridgewood/Glendale and Northeast Queens, and providing some traction for their candidates at the bottom of the ticket in those regions.

Getting back to the primary elections, at the congressional level, longtime incumbent Gregory Meeks, representing the 6th CD in Southeast Queens, is being challenged by Ruben Wills, who, like Meeks makes his home in St. Albans.

Wills' candidacy sprang from the presidential primaries earlier this year. He was part of a group of black pols in that area headed by City Councilmember James Sanders Jr. that supported a slate of delegates committed to Barack Obama. Meeks, the only black congressmember in the borough, supported the delegate slate favoring Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Obama slate, in a surprise showing, won three of the five delegate positions, and the Obama partisans have now mounted a challenge to Meeks, who is favored to win renomination.

Another incumbent in the Southeast Queens area, Shirley L. Huntley, is being challenged for her 10th senate district seat by a pol who's quite well known in the district, former Councilmember Allan W. Jennings Jr.

Jennings was thrown out of the council after being found guilty of several improprieties and is now attempting a comeback. Huntley is backed by the regular Democratic organization and is favored to win. Both candidates are Jamaica residents.

The state senate primary commanding the most attention on primary day will pair Councilmember Joseph Addabbo Jr. (Ozone Park) against attorney Albert Baldeo. The winner will face Maltese in the general election and the outcome in the November contest will play a part in deciding which party will control the senate next year.

Addabbo, now in his seventh year as a councilmember, is the son of the late Congressman Joseph Addabbo and thus well known and well regarded in the district. He also will have more than the usual support in the primary because the regular Queens Democratic organization headed by Congressmember Joseph Crowley wants to make the most of its chance of defeating Maltese.

Also pitching in for Addabbo is the powerhouse New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council. The 30,000 member union, which reportedly has earmarked several million dollars for this year's elections, endorsed Addabbo in this key contest.

Meanwhile, another labor organization whose endorsements are valued, Local 1199/Service Employees International Union, has endorsed Maltese, continuing its relationship with senate Republicans.

The organization also reportedly endorsed Senator Padavan in his re-election battle against Councilmember James Gennaro, the Fresh Meadows Democrat.

Standing in the way is Baldeo, a Jamaica resident, who ran a very strong race against Maltese in the general election two years ago and has been running a strong campaign against Addabbo.

In a third state senate primary, incumbent Toby Ann Stavisky is opposed by newcomer Robert Schwartz, of Forest Hills.

The only Assembly incumbent who will be busy on primary day will be Ellen Young, who represents Flushing's 22nd Assembly District. She's being challenged by a member of another local political family, Grace Meng, who's father, Jimmy Meng, held the seat before Young but left office reportedly for health.

Young comes from the political organization headed by Councilmember John Liu, who's the district leader and the borough's regular organization representative in the area, making Young the favorite to win the tussle with Ms. Meng, an attorney.

The only other primary on the ballot will be to pick the Democratic nominee for the 34th Assembly District seat in Jackson Heights left vacant by the retirement of Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette.

Facing off in the contest are Michael DenDekker, of Jackson Heights, and Marlene J. Tapper, of East Elmhurst. DenDekker appears to have the edge.

ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Senator Frank Padavan (R- C, Bellerose) announced that Governor David Paterson had signed into law his bill which provides incentives to New York residents and businesses which install and use solar power on their property. The bill provides a four-year property tax abatement for the installation of a solar generating system on residential or business properties. The abatement is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030 environmental program.

Meanwhile, Councilmember Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) announced he is filing legislation that creates "drug-free park zones", which like the drug-free school zones already in existence would set higher penalties for the sale or use of illegal drugs in or within 1,000 feet of any park or playground in New York City.

"We protect children with tougher drug laws in and around schools and we should give kids the same protection in the parks and playgrounds that they frequent as well," Gennaro stated.

ENDORSEMENT: Assemblymember Mark Weprin (D- Little Neck), seeking re-election in the 24th Assembly District in Eastern Queens, has been endorsed by the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV), which works to make environmental protection a top priority with elected officials, decision makers and voters.

COUNCIL RACE ON NOVEMBER BALLOT: Councilmember Anthony Como, who was elected recently to replace Dennis Gallagher for the remainder of this year, will be on the ballot in November seeking election to hold the 30th Congressional District seat for the final year of what would have been Gallagher's term.

Como (R- C, Middle Village), the only Republican representing Queens in the council, will be opposed by Elizabeth Crowley of Glendale, a Democrat.

In winning the seat earlier this year, Como defeated Crowley and two others in a very close race. In November, Como will occupy the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines and Crowley will be the Democratic- Working Family Party candidate.

The 30th Congressional District includes Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst and part of Rego Park.

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