2009-02-11 / Features

3 Months After Election Day, Gennaro Concedes To Padavan

BY JOHN TOSCANO

The bitterness engendered by the fierce campaign between Padavan, l., and Gennaro, r., last fall and the acrimony which went on during several recounts, some ordered by the courts, continued after Gennaro conceded and called for the election, "once the vote count is completed, to be certified without further delay". The bitterness engendered by the fierce campaign between Padavan, l., and Gennaro, r., last fall and the acrimony which went on during several recounts, some ordered by the courts, continued after Gennaro conceded and called for the election, "once the vote count is completed, to be certified without further delay". Three months—93 days to be exact— since the November 4 general election for a Northeast Queens state senate seat, there is finally a winner—we think.

The victory goes to incumbent state Senator Frank Padavan, who has represented the 11th senate district for the past 36 years. Although Padavan's opponent in the fiercely fought battle, City Councilmember James Gennaro (D- Jamaica Estates), conceded victory to Padavan on Thursday, the following day a Queens Supreme Court Justice ruled that Padavan won by 480 votes.

If Padavan becomes the certified winner, it would give the Republican minority in the state senate an additional vote, although it does nothing to deny the Democrats the senate majority—and control— they won following the elections.

The victory makes Padavan the only Republican in the senate from New York City. In the November 4 elections, state Senator Serphin Maltese, the only other city Republican representative, was defeated by Democrat Joseph Addabbo Jr. of Ozone Park/Howard Beach.

However, the bitterness engendered by the fierce campaign between Padavan and Gennaro last fall and the acrimony which went on during several recounts, some ordered by the courts, continued after Gennaro conceded and called for the election, "once the vote count is completed, to be certified without further delay".

Padavan pointed out, in response to the concession by Gennaro, "From Election night and at every step of the recount, I remained in the lead."

But the pervasive bitterness surfaced as Padavan went on: "However, despite this crystal clear fact, [Gennaro] and his political cohorts engaged in a shameful smear campaign intended to mislead residents of the 11th Senate district."

Padavan continued his attack against Gennaro, "party bosses and the political operatives of the Parkside Group", a political consulting firm.

"Had it not been for the unmitigated greed and self-serving motives of Councilman Gennaro and the Parkside Group, this election would have been resolved back in November," Padavan declared.

But Gennaro also got in his share of bitter charges, among them his opponent's "attempts to disenfranchise voters" for which he should "apologize to every voter he attempted to disenfranchise, and for him to apologize" to his constituents also.

Gennaro is now in his eighth year as a councilmember. For many years he was also a professor at Queens College.

Of the November 4 campaign and election, Gennaro stated he was "proud that almost 100,000 people voted" in the contest against Padavan, "and that half of those voters believed in and supported me".

Padavan won by about 580 votes in the unofficial count that followed the balloting, but Gennaro and Queens Democratic Party officials challenged the result, charging that after the election, "Padavan and his Republican Party lawyers have used every resource at their disposal to wage a systematic and sustained effort to either disqualify or deny consideration of perfectly valid ballots.

"As important as any election is, the right to vote and have that vote count is of paramount importance. This became our new focus—to fight Mr. Padavan's attempts to disenfranchise voters and to ensure that every valid ballot would be identified and counted."

And while he didn't prevail in the election, Gennaro said, "We won a great victory." That came in the recount and court fight over ballots cast that weren't counted.

Gennaro explained, "About 1,000 vot- ers—Democrats, Republicans and Independents— who cast perfectly valid ballots in this most historic election will now have their votes for president, U.S. Representative, state senate, state Assembly, and Supreme and Civil Court counted, rather than discarded."

He cited the New York State Supreme and Appellate Courts for their unwavering commitment to the integrity of the electoral process and the right to vote.

Padavan saw it another way. He stated, "The antics of Councilman Gennaro and his Parkside Group friends are a complete disservice to the community and lead to the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of Northeast Queens residents. As a result of their outrageous tactics, Gennaro and the Parkside Group are responsible for wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars."

Alluding to Gennaro's concession of the election, Padavan declared, "Today, their constant claims and negative attacks have once again been proven erroneous and utterly baseless. In fact, ballots that were deemed invalid based on election law by both the Queens Board of Elections and the New York City Board of Elections were examined twice, providing an unprecedented level of scrutiny and due diligence for any recount in our state."

Padavan started out his reaction to Gennaro's concession by expressing "my deepest appreciation to the thousands who supported my re-election and to the countless residents in our community who expressed their unwavering support throughout the recount process. I look forward to returning to Albany and bringing some much needed energy and common sense to the deliberations and debates in the state senate."

Padavan declared, "We are facing a myriad of grave economic challenges at every level of government. Moving forward, I pledge to continue to fight on behalf of all the residents of Northeast Queens each and every day and help put our economy on the right path to recovery."

Looking back at his campaign against Padavan, Gennaro said he was proud. "We ran an issue-based campaign, educating the public about my opponent's voting record, especially with regard to women's health and rights, and proposing fresh new ideas, like building a green economy and protecting New York City's drinking water supply."

Gennaro also credited his losing campaign with "enlightening voters to some of the serious problems that need addressing in Albany, such as the billions of New York City taxpayers' dollars that go to Albany to be distributed to other parts of our state and leave New York City struggling to pay for basic services".

Finally, Gennaro stated that Padavan's 480-vote margin "does not entitle him to his own set of facts".

But coming to Padavan's defense, Queens Republican leader Phil Ragusa blasted Gennaro "for his scathing and disgraceful concession statement". Ragusa characterized Gennaro's remarks as "the most classless, selfish and outrageous act of political lying I have ever heard or seen."

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