Candidates' Nominating Petitions Start Flowing In
The first report about candidate petition filings for the September 15 primaries (most Democratic) came from Paul Vallone, who's seeking to run for Bayside's 19th Council District seat. Vallone filed more than 5,000 signatures, which according to a release, should assure a line on the ballot.
The deadline for filing is Thursday, July 16 and a flood of petitions should be dropped off at the Board of Elections. Of Queens' 14 City Council seats, nine incumbents are seeking re-election and five seats are up for grabs.
Paul Vallone and Jerry Iannece are the major contestants for the 19th Council District seat being vacated by Tony Avella, who is seeking the Democratic nomination against city Comptroller William Thompson Jr.
The winner will face Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has the Republican and Independence lines and is looking to create another party line in quest of a third term.
Incumbents Councilmembers John Liu (Flushing), David Weprin (Hollis) and Melinda Katz (Forest Hills) will be handing in petitions to get on the primary ballot in quest of the Democratic nomination That should be a close contest. Also running for the Democratic nomination is Brooklyn Councilmember David Yassky.
Another four-way contest looms for the Public Advocate nomination. Hoping to win the Democratic line and succeed Betsy Gotbaum are Councilmembers Eric Gioia (Long Island City) and Bill deBlasio (Brooklyn), as well as former Public Advocate Mark Green and attorney Norman Siegel.
As for Queens' lone boroughwide seat, Borough President Helen Marshall, seeking a third term, has no primary opposition.
In other non-incumbent city council races, several candidates are expected to file petitions to get on the ballot to run for the seats being vacated by Liu, Weprin and Katz. Among these are Democratic party designees S.J. Jung (Liu's seat), Assemblymember Mark Weprin (to succeed brother David) and former Councilmember Karen Koslowitz and ex- Assemblymember Michael Cohen (who are among several running to replace Katz).
Democratic incumbent city councilmembers running for re-election are Julissa Ferreras, Peter Vallone Jr., James F. Gennaro, Helen Sears, Leroy Comrie Jr., Thomas White Jr., Elizabeth Crowley and James Sanders. Several face primary challenges and Republican opponents in the general election.
The sole Queens Republican in the council, Eric Ulrich, is unlikely to face a primary challenge, but he is expected to have Democratic District Leader Frank Gulluscio of Ozone Park as his opponent in the general election.
As the petition filings continue, this column will report on the prospective candidates of all political parties who are contemplating running for public office in the September primaries or the November general elections.
SENATE RETURNS TO WORK: There's not much to be said about the ending to the month-long Democratic- Republican stalemate last week that paralyzed the state senate. The only winners on the Democratic side were Senator Pedro Espada (The Bronx), who wound up with the Senate Majority Leader post and Senators John L. Sampson (Brooklyn) and Malcolm Wilson (St. Albans), who got leadership posts.
That Wilson survived at all is remarkable, since it was on his watch as majority leader that the Republican plot to steal the Democrats' leadership took place, with assists from Espada and Senator Hiram Monserrate (D- Jackson Heights).
According to Albany reports, Monserrate played a major role in supporting Espada long enough for the turncoat from The Bronx to seize the opportunity to emerge with the top Democratic political post. Surely Monserrate will get his reward in the future, probably securing a committee chairmanship with some prerogative or a monetary stipend attached.
Whether or not Monserrate will be challenged by the Queens Democratic organization for his Jackson Heights senate seat remains to be seen.
Monserrate got the county Democrats' endorsement over incumbent John Sabini last year, but there may be a move to challenge the incumbent at election time next year. However, Monserrate may be difficult to dislodge from the strongly Hispanic district, unless his pending criminal trial weakens him or costs him his senate job if he's convicted. The situation is very fluid at this time, although Monserrate is comfortably established in the legislative post at present.
ENDORSEMENTS: Topping major endorsement news last week, city Comptroller William Thompson Jr. received the nod from the Working Families Party (WFP) while fending off Mayor Michael Bloomberg's effort to take it for himself or convince the party to stay neutral in the race.
In the race to succeed Thompson as city comptroller, the big news was that the city's largest municipal union, District Council 37 (DC 37), endorsed city Councilmember John Liu, who is in a four-way race for the Democratic Party nomination with colleagues David Weprin, Melinda Katz and David Yassky (Brooklyn).
The only consolation for Katz was that she has the official backing of former Mayor Edward Koch.
The importance of the WFP endorsement for Thompson lies in the major field operation the growing political organization conducts for its candidates on election day. Bloomberg has the cash necessary to get his campaign message out to the public (he reached the $36 million mark recently) and has amassed enough to hire a small army for the Election Day turnout operation, so it illustrates how important it was for Thompson to snap up the WFP endorsement and assure a top quality field operation in order to have a fighting chance against his highly favored opponent.
Thompson's major campaign source will, of course, be the Democratic Party; the mayor will again have the Republican Party line in his bid for a third term.
Getting back to Liu's endorsement by DC 37 in the Democratic primary for comptroller, the Flushing lawmaker noted that organized labor has always been the most passionate advocate for New York families and he was honored to have its support.
DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts said Liu was chosen by the union because, "He has been a consistent leader on issues that matter most to middle-class and immigrant families in New York City."
Also endorsed by the largest municipal union (125,000 active members and 50,000 retirees) were incumbent Queens city council candidates Julissa Ferreras, Peter Vallone Jr., James Gennaro, Helen Sears, Leroy Comrie Jr., Thomas White Jr. and Elizabeth Crowley.
In other Queens contests, those endorsed include Jerry Iannece (19th Council District), S.J. Jung (20th Council District), Mark Weprin (23rd Council District), James Van Bramer (26th Council District), Karen Koslowitz (29th Council District), Marquez Claxton (31st Council District) and Frank Gulluscio (32nd Council District).
CONGRATS TO WEINER: The Gazette extends its congratulations to Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D- Queens/Brooklyn) on his engagement to Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The 44-year-old lawmaker has so far refused to divulge any further information about any wedding plans.
The House recently passed Weiner's bill to cut off all aid from this country to Saudi Arabia; it also prevents the president from sending financial aid to the Middle Eastern nation. The legislation closes a loophole past administrations had used to bypass consulting Congress when sending the Saudis financial aid.
Weiner stated, "Under no circumstances should American taxpayer dollars be used to support Saudi hate and terror."