2009-11-11 / Political Page

Liu Outdraws Bloomy; Ulrich Vs. Addabbo Next Year?

City Comptroller-elect John Liu not only made history in winning election last week, becoming the first Asian American to hold the second highest office in the world’s foremost city, but he also out-polled Mayor Michael Bloomberg by about 150,000 votes.

Liu, 42, who also made history eight years ago when he became the first Asian American elected to the City Council, received 696,330 votes to the mayor’s total of 557,059. The Flushing lawmaker also trounced his opponent, Republican Joe Mendola, getting 77 percent of the vote to Mendola’s 24 percent.

In his victory speech following the election, Liu sounded optimistic and upbeat.

“We look forward to a smooth transition over the coming days and weeks, and we’ll hit the ground running with the best qualified professionals in financial management.

“We are grappling with the biggest budget crisis in decades, and so we have a lot of work ahead of us— and I’m looking forward to it, to restore fiscal responsibility to the City of New York.”

Liu, whose family emigrated from Taiwan when he was a child, went on to graduate from a major college and worked for one of the country’s major accounting firms before being elected to the city council.

Governor David Paterson, the state’s first black governor, saw Liu’s election as “kind of like a miniature version of Barack Obama last year”. He added that Liu’s “steadfast criticism, discipline about the city’s highlights and some of the difficulties we have to overcome, were heard by the voters”.

LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT YEAR: Queens Republicans’ effusiveness over Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s election victory in the 32nd Council District race in Howard Beach/Ozone Park, has started speculation of a challenge to state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. in next year’s elections.

On the Democratic side of the ledger, outgoing City Councilmember David Weprin says Queens Democratic leaders are trying to get him to run against state Senator Frank Padavan, the highly respected Republican veteran.

State leaders of both parties are eyeing possible Queens races to help settle the question of who will have the edge in deciding the majority to control the upper house.

Democrats presently have a 32–30 edge, with the possibility that the number may be reduced if Senator Hiram Monserrate has his seat taken away from him.

The reasons that Ulrich may figure in GOP plans are that he won a decisive victory over Frank Gulluscio, 12,377 to 8,430. That’s an almost 3-to-2 margin. Not only was it an easy victory for the 24-year-old GOPer, the youngest member of the council, but his opponent was very close to Addabbo and was heavily supported by the lawmaker who he once served as chief of staff.

Ulrich has caught the eye of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former mayors Rudy Giuliani and Edward Koch, good people to have on one’s side.

Queens Republican Leader Phil Ragusa, was ecstatic over Ulrich’s victory. But Ragusa said if Ulrich doesn’t take on Addabbo next year, the county leader may call upon former Councilmember Anthony Como of Glendale/Middle Village to challenge Addabbo.

Besides being wooed by his party’s leaders to take on Padavan, a 35-year-veteran, David Weprin has other options he’s weighing. The most obvious one is the Assembly seat his brother Mark vacated to run for the council seat David vacated, and which Mark Weprin won easily. David Weprin said he’s considering running to take his brother’s place, “but I’m not sure yet, it’s still another option”. He said a special election will be called to fill the Assembly seat that will probably be held in February.

GIANARIS WANTS APOLOGY FROM HALLORAN: Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria), the first Greek American elected to the Assembly, demanded a formal apology from Councilmember-elect Dan Halloran, who just won the Northeast Queens 19th Council District seat.

Gianaris said that Halloran, in a New York Post story, suggested that people of Greek Orthodox faith are not Christians and compared Greek Easter celebrations to the annual blood sacrifices practiced by Halloran's own religion.

Halloran, who practices Theodism, was quoted in the story saying, “If a Christian goes to a Greek Orthodox lamb roast for Easter, there is nothing considered wrong with that.”

But Gianaris said, “The statement implies there is a distinction between Christians and those who are Greek Orthodox [and] it also draws a comparison between animal blood sacrifices and barbecuing lamb for an Easter celebration— an act that is not part of a religious ceremony, but is simply a traditional meal on Easter to break the fast.”

Gianaris noted that there are thousands of Greek Orthodox faithful in the district Halloran will be representing.

Responding to Gianaris, Halloran stated, “I apologize to his eminence Archbishop Demetrios and to all those of the Greek Orthodox faith or other faiths that might have taken offense at any comparisons made.”

Halloran explained he never intended to equate any aspect of his own faith or practices with Greek Orthodox Easter or Greek Orthodox Christians.

He said, “I think it vitally important that my constituents know that I respect them and their faiths and traditions.”

THOMPSON FOR U.S. SENATOR? It has been reported that Congressmember Jose Serrano (D–The Bronx) is pushing former city Comptroller William Thompson as a possible challenger to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in next year’s Democratic primary.

That could create another embarrassing situation for President Barack Obama, who was strongly criticized for not supporting Thompson in his bid against Bloomberg. Some say that the president’s giving a strong endorsement to Thompson or campaigning once or twice with him could have provided the boost Thompson needed to defeat Bloomberg. The mayor won by only five points.

Should Thompson decide to challenge Gillibrand, Obama could pressure him to change his mind and give Gillibrand a clear road to the nomination without needing to fight for it in a primary.

The list of those who considered challenging Gillibrand, but were deterred by Obama’s announced wish to see no opposition to her, is too long to repeat here. All caved in to the pressure and at this moment Gillibrand has a clear field to the nomination.

BILL TARGETS HIRAM’S DEFENSE FUNDS: State Senator Neil Breslin (D–Albany) has introduced a bill which would force Senator Hiram Monserrate, and any other legislator, to disclose the names of donors to his defense fund. Monserrate has thus far refused to do so, opening him to criticism that money could be flowing into the fund from lobbyists and others dealing with state agencies.

ASIAN AMERICANS TO GET ELECTION MATERIALS TRANSLATED: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer reports that the federal Election Assistance Commission has agreed to finalize and release the translation of the Federal Mail-In Voter Registration Form into Asian languages, as required by the Voting Rights Act, before the start of the 2010 primaries.

Schumer, who chairs the Senate Committee on Rules and Registration, said that a complaint had been received from an advocacy group saying that the Asian language form would not be ready for last week’s election, leading to the effort to get the translations done for next year’s primary.

PADAVAN’S HEALTH FAIR: The Annual Fall Community Health and Wellness Expo sponsored by Senator Frank Padavan for families and seniors in Northeast Queens will be held on Saturday, November 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Our Lady of the Snows Church, 258-15 80th Ave, in Floral Park (entrance and parking on 258th Street).

Padavan said, “This is a great opportunity for residents to take a few hours and learn more about what they can do for their health and the well-being of their loved ones.”

MONSERRATE ANNOUNCES HEALTH AWARENESS OBSERVANCES: State Senator Hiram Monserrate announced that Cancer and Alzheimer’s awareness programs are scheduled during November. One of the highlights will be the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout on November 19, an event which challenges people to stop using tobacco. Monserrate said that during November, “We must renew our commitment to finding a cure [for Alzheimer’s disease] while providing high quality and affordable treatment and prevention options.”

ADDABBO OFFICE HOURS AT WOODHAVEN LIBRARY: Continuing his program of holding weekend office hours on Saturdays at a local library, state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach) will be at the Woodhaven branch, 85-41 Forest Pkwy., Woodhaven (718-849-1010) on Saturday, November 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Previous sessions for discussing issues with constituents were held in Maspeth, Middle Village and North Forest Park.

Addabbo also said his plans to open a second district office in the northern part of his district are still going forward and state officials are searching for a site. He hopes to open it shortly.

MENG BILL TO PROTECT HATE CRIME VICTIMS’ FAMILIES: Assemblymember Grace Meng (D–Flushing) has introduced legislation that would authorize judges to issue orders of protection to protect the victim of a hate crime, known immediate family or domestic partners of victims from further acts of violence or threats from persons convicted of hate crimes.

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