2009-05-06 / Political Page

Queens Republicans Relent, Endorse Bloomberg For Mayor

After staunchly refusing to endorse Mayor Michael Bloomberg for a third term, Queens Republicans relented last week and gave the front-running incumbent their blessing, declaring his reputation as a strong, independent city manager made him the best candidate to oppose the likely Democratic Party nominee, City Comptroller William C. Thompson.

The organization's executive committee, led by Chairman Phil Ragusa, also said Bloomberg's re-election would ensure that the policies championed by both his administration and that of Rudy Giuliani, including mayoral control of schools, charter schools, common sense tough-on-crime policies and aggressive addressing of quality of life concerns, were among the best reasons to return the mayor to office for a third term.

Also cited as major reasons to back the mayor were his past support for the Republican state senate conference and his commitment to GOP party building on a local level.

The executive committee's unanimous endorsement vote assured Bloomberg of citywide Republican Party support as it followed similar county GOP endorsements in Brooklyn, Staten Island and The Bronx. This all means the incumbent mayor will occupy the Republican line on the ballot on election day in November.

The mayor, who is not aligned with any political party after becoming an independent last year when he explored running for president, will therefore occupy both the Republican and Independence Party ballot lines in November.

Bloomberg was a Democrat, but became a Republican when he ran in 2001 to succeed Giuliani. He had citywide GOP support then, and also when he ran for a second term. However, Republican leaders were miffed when the mayor later refused to reward them with many patronage jobs, so when Bloomberg laid plans to run for a third term, Republican county leaders initially, refused to endorse him but eventually relented.

Ragusa, who had joined with other county GOP leaders in a screening process to choose a mayoral candidate noted that the process had also considered supermarket tycoon John Catsimatidis and Queens contender former Councilmember Tom Ognibene.

"I think we are stronger for having had a formal process and giving all prospective candidates an opportunity to share with us their best ideas," Ragusa said. "We are going to field an exceptionally strong ticket this year, from Mayor Bloomberg on down to all our city council, judicial and state committee candidates."

The GOP ticket includes Robert Hornak for borough president, Eric Ulrich, the city council incumbent in Ozone Park/Howard Beach; Dan Halloran in Bayside; Tom Dooley in Astoria, and Angelo Marogas in Long Island City.

OGNIBENE COMEBACK?: There is talk that Ognibene, who held the Middle Village/Glendale/Ridgewood council seat for many years, may challenge incumbent Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley in November in a comeback attempt. Crowley won the seat in a special election last year.

THOMPSON FLAYS MAYOR ON BUDGET: City Comptroller William Thompson Jr., presumptive Democratic nominee for mayor, blasted a sales tax increase in Bloomberg's proposed budget as "regressive" and an attempt to balance the budget on the backs of small business owners and working middle class residents who are already facing a whopping transit fare hike.

Thompson again advocated a temporary increase in the personal income tax on individuals making $500,000 or more annually, which the mayor opposes.

Otherwise, Thompson said the almost $60 billion budget was not unexpected and he thought the mayor had moved prudently to manage the huge deficit facing the city.

He promised to issue a more complete analysis of the spending plan in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Thompson was endorsed by state Senator Eric Schneiderman and Assemblymembers Daniel O'Donnell, Deborah J. Glick and Michael Kellner, all of Manhattan. They all joined with the candidate in criticizing Bloomberg's cuts in several medical, mental health and community based programs.

Meanwhile, the mayor picked up an endorsement from the Aldos Independent Democratic Club in Astoria, led by John J. Ciafone. The 80-year-old club also extends into Long Island City and East Elmhurst. The Aldos organization had endorsed Thompson for comptroller in the past two elections.

Ciafone noted that Bloomberg "led us through the suffering of 9/11 then brought the Big Apple back on its feet".

KATZ ADDRESSES WOMEN DEMOCRATS: City Councilmember Melinda Katz, who's battling council colleagues David Weprin and John Liu for the Democratic nomination for city comptroller and is the only woman running for citywide office this year, addressed a joint meeting of the Eleanor Roosevelt and Harriet Tubman Democratic Clubs recently.

Katz emphasized the legacy of pioneer women leaders such as the club's namesakes, "who in the face of rampant discrimination, paved the way for equal rights and future leaders to follow".

"Not only did they endure hardship and discrimination throughout their lives, they demonstrated amazing resilience by thriving despite it," Katz added.

If elected, Katz said she would work to ensure a quality education for all public schools by holding the Department of Education accountable and forcing it "to play by the same oversight rules as all other city agencies". Currently, she said, there is no oversight of Education Department spending.

Katz also said the city can leverage its influence over companies in which it invests pension funds by holding them to higher standards of job creation and community investment.

ADDABBO MEETING ON SCHOOL CONTROL: State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D- Ozone Park/Howard Beach) will hold a town hall meeting on Thursday, May 21 on the issue of mayoral control of the city's public schools at Our Lady of Hope School auditorium, 61-21 71st St., Middle Village, beginning at 7 p.m.

The law authorizing the mayor to have sole control over the public schools will expire in June, when the state legislature will vote either to continue it or end it or make changes in it. The issue is expected to spark a major debate and political battle.

For more information or to RSVP, call Pete at Addabbo's office at 718-738-1111.

SENIORS' FITNESS PROGRAM: City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. kicked off the City Parks Senior Fitness program on Monday. The program will feature free tennis at the Astoria Park tennis courts, at 21st Street and Hoyt Avenue South every Monday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. The program is funded in part by Vallone. Registration is required. Call the City Parks Foundation at 718-760-6999 or visit www.City Parks Foundation.org.

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