2009-02-18 / Political Page

4 Candidates On Ballot For Monserrate Seat

BY JOHN TOSCANO

Special elections to fill two City Council seats, one in the Jackson Heights, Corona area, the other in Ozone Park- Howard Beach, will be held next Tuesday. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Four candidates are competing to replace Hiram Monserrate in the 21st Council District, which includes East Elmhurst and Elmhurst as well as Jackson Heights and Corona. Monserrate was elected to the state senate last November, creating the city council vacancy.

In the 32nd Council District race, four candidates are seeking to replace Joseph Addabbo Jr., who also was elected to the state senate last November.

A separate story on the 32nd district race will run elsewhere in this issue.

The four candidates in the 21st Council District contest are listed from left to right on the ballot with their campaign mottoes listed above. Party labels are not used in special elections.

The 21st district candidates are:

•Julissa Ferreras, former chief of staff for Monserrate, on Line 1 A under the United We Can banner. Ferreras has been endorsed by Monserrate as well as by many organizations. Ferreras got Line 1A because she filed her nominating petitions before anyone else.

•Francisco P. Moya, a Democratic Party district leader, is on Line 1 B under the Yes We Can slogan.

•Jose Eduardo Giraldo, the People for Progress candidate, is on Line 1 C.

•George R. Dixon, also a Democratic Party district leader, is on Line 1 D, under the United for Change banner.

Because there are two Democratic Party district leaders in the race, Moya and Dixon, the Queens Democratic Party organization decided not to endorse anyone in the election.

Ferreras, 32, has picked up several major endorsements from municipal unions that hold the promise of getting volunteer help on election day. She has also been endorsed by 14 past and present city councilmembers, including six women councilmembers who look forward to welcoming her as the seventh woman and the first Latina from Queens.

A comment made by Councilmember Karina Cabrera, who heads the Latina bloc in the council, could help Ferreras to land the women's vote.

Cabrera stated the Latina lawmakers endorsed Ferreras "because she has worked all her life empowering Latinas and tackling these critical challenges".

Ferreras, campaigning on a platform of better wages, more jobs and improved education and health care, declared, "My election means that my Latina and other constituents will have a voice in the council if I am elected."

In addition to having served as Monserrate's chief of staff, Ferreras was an advocate for students and families at P.S. 19 in Corona, one of the city's most overcrowded schools.

In her role as chief of staff, she worked closely with Monserrate including on the final Willets Point development program, more affordable housing, quality jobs for local residents and other community issues.

Ferreras has been endorsed by the following organizations:

•Local 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, 1,200 of whose members live in the 21st Council District and have pledged to help in her campaign.

•Local 32 BJ SEIU, which has 2,000 members living in the 21st Council District. This group was active in Addabbo's senate campaign.

•New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, which promised an "aggressive" field campaign.

•UFGW Local 1500, the largest grocery workers' union in the state.

•Working Families Party

•ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), which was active for the community in the Willets Point development.

•LGBT, the lesbian and gay organization in Queens, of which Jackson Heights Democratic Party district leader Daniel Dromm is an officer.

Ferreras also led all of her opponents in fundraising, collecting more than $50,000 and spending more than half of it.

Moya, 33, started his community and political activism early in life, establishing the Corona Gardens Neighborhood Association when he was 18 years old. Since then he was a member of Congressmember Nydia Velazquez's staff for several years and is now employed as a government affairs specialist for a large media firm.

Moya in his campaign has stressed the need to address the "affordable housing crisis" and has also spoken out against overdevelopment in his area.

Dixon, a Vietnam War veteran, is an official in the East Elmhurst/Corona Civic Association and a former member of Community Board 3. The 59-year-old candidate operates a graphic arts and design company.

Jose Eduardo Giraldo has not done much outreach in his campaign. He reported raising $19,600 and spending about $13,000.

The winner of this contest will serve for only the remainder of this year, the period remaining in Monserrate's term.

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