Ciafone Challenges Simotas In 36 AD Dem Primary
Longtime school board member and political activist John Ciafone has announced he will oppose Aravella Simotas for the Democratic nomination in the 36th Assembly District, covering Astoria and Long Island City.
The seat became available when incumbent Assemblymember Michael Gianaris decided to run for the state senate seat that will be vacated at the end of the year when George Onorato retires.
Ciafone, a 40-year-old attorney, said he expects to attract the “family values” vote that usually goes to Onorato. “This area is still relatively conservative and I think I’m more conservative than my opponent and can benefit from that,” said Ciafone.
He pointed out that Simotas favors abortion and had received the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice New York. Simotas announced the endorsement recently, and in accepting it said she “will fight to protect a woman’s right to choose and to access information and quality health services”.
Ciafone has been a member of School Board 30 for many years and twice served as its president. He is also the executive leader of the Aldos Democratic Club. He ran once for public office, losing a city council primary to the present office holder, Peter Vallone Jr.
Simotas has very strong backing for her first run for public office. She has been endorsed by the powerful Taminent Regular Democratic Club and by the Queens Democratic organization and its chairman, Congressmember Joseph Crowley. Both Onorato and Gianaris have endorsed her as well.
SIMOTAS VOWS TO ‘CLEAN UP MESS’ IN ALBANY: Describing Albany as “a perfect portrait of corruption and dysfunction”, 36th AD hopeful Aravella Simotas says she’s often asked “Why would you ever want to go to Albany?”
She always answers, “I want to go to Albany because I know I can make a difference for the community I love. I know I can help clean up the mess.”
Because of Albany’s dysfunction, schools are facing a more than $1 billion budget cut, three Queens hospitals have closed in recent years and “special interests like Con Edison and the MTA run amok and operate as out of control”.
Among the measures Simotas will support to fix up Albany, she said, is an independent ethics commission that will hold those who break the law responsible; an independent redistricting commission to draw new election district lines based on communities’ needs, not politics and campaign finance reform.
“Albany has been allowed to abuse its power and authority for far too long,” Simotas concluded a position paper.
PU-FOLKES CHALLENGES MOYA: In Corona’s 39th AD, Bryan Pu- Folkes, a community leader and immigration attorney from Jackson Heights, is running against Francisco Moya, who was designated the candidate of the Queens Democratic organization.
The seat has been vacant since incumbent Jose Peralta gave it up to run for the 13th state senate seat against Hiram Monserrate.
Pu-Folkes presents himself as a “community minded leader with a track record of fighting for community concerns, to improve our schools, strengthen our small businesses and clean up our streets”.
Pu-Folkes has formed a Latino-based coalition to advance his efforts in the primary in the heavily Hispanic Corona/Jackson Heights district. His wife, Larisa Ortiz, was present at the ceremony at which he announced his candidacy.
The coalition includes Edward Giraldo, Citizens Alliance for Progress, Freddy Castiblanco, Jorge Hernandez, and Oswaldo Guzman, among others.
FRIEDRICH OPPOSES D. WEPRIN AGAIN: Bob Friedrich, who has been railing against the Weprin family’s political dominance and lock on local political offices for almost 40 years in Eastern Queens, will take another crack at unseating Assemblymember David Weprin, this time in the 24th Assembly District Democratic primary on September 14.
A year ago, Friedrich, the president of the largest garden apartment co-op complex in New York (10,000 residents), lost to Mark Weprin in the Democratic primary for the local City Council seat, which had been vacated by David Weprin to run for city comptroller.
Subsequently David Weprin ran for his brother’s vacated 24th Assembly District post and Friedrich was again his opponent, this time running as a Republican, and lost again.
In September, Friedrich will be challenging David Weprin for the first time in a Democratic contest and believes he can win with support from the South Asian community. The district covers Floral Park, Glen Oaks and Bellerose.
Friedrich complains that the area gets no government services from either Weprin so it’s time to elect someone like himself who has worked in the private sector.
Friedrich promises to be an independent voice if elected and will not “fear challenging either party’s leadership that has given us the most dysfunctional legislative body in the country”.
David Weprin has the backing of the Queens Democratic organization. The late Sol Weprin started the family dynasty in Albany about 36 years ago. He was succeeded at his death by son Mark and then by Mark’s brother David in occupying the 24th AD seat.
BRAUNSTEIN A SURPRISE: Last year, several local Democratic Party activists fought over and lost the local Bayside-based city council seat. It was expected there would be a repeated stampede when Ann Margaret Carrozza retired from the 26th Assembly District seat in Bayside.
It came as a bit of a surprise when the county Democratic organization designated Ed Braunstein to be the candidate for the post. He’s a lifelong Bayside resident, attended local schools, graduated from Albany SUNY and got a law degree from New York Law School. Currently he works as a legislative assistant in the New York City office of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. He’s also a member of Community Board 11 and the East Bayside Homeowners Association.
“Albany is in desperate need of reform and I look forward to being part of the solution,” Braunstein declared.
If he finally gets the nomination, he will be facing Vince Tabone, a Republican/Conservative in the fall election.
ALL DEMS IN CONGRESS GET GOP OPPONENTS: For the first time in some years, every Democratic incumbent Congressmember from Queens has drawn a Republican opponent in the fall elections. Some of the Dems may also have primary challenges.
Here’s the way the lineup stacks up:
•5th Congressional District (Bayside/Long Island), incumbent Gary Ackerman is opposed by Dr. James Milano, a physician, who also has the Conservative Party line.
•6th Congressional District (Southeast Queens), incumbent Gregory Meeks faces Asher Taub who, like some of the others, was endorsed by the Queens GOP.
•7th Congressional District (Queens/The Bronx), incumbent Joseph Crowley is opposed by Ken Reynolds.
•9th Congressional District (Queens/Brooklyn), incumbent Anthony Weiner faces Bob Turner of Rockaway Point, a retired businessman. Turner also has Republican Conservative endorsement.
•14th Congressional District (Queens/Manhattan), incumbent Carolyn Maloney has two announced challengers for the general election, Ryan Brumberg and Dino La Verghetta, both of Manhattan. Maloney also faces a primary opponent.
We’ll have more on this in future issues.
VALLONE BACKS DOUBLE PARKING: Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) is co-sponsor of a bill introduced to legalize double parking in some situations. The bill would make double parking legal for drivers waiting for a spot soon to be vacated, or where the driver of a parked car is merely delivering a package or waiting to pick up passengers.
Vallone says he gets many complaints about lack of parking space and the issuance of many tickets.
“It’s enforcement gone wild,” he says. “Half the time, they’re deserved; the other half the time, the traffic agents abuse their discretion.”