City Council District 19 encompasses several suburban-like neighborhoods at the northeast edge of the city, but this year’s election campaign rhetoric has become as sharp as any inner-city political brawl.
In the contest between Democrat Kevin Kim, who moved from dark horse in a field of six to candidate by taking nearly 31 percent of the primary vote, and Republican/Conservative/Independence/Libertarian candidate Dan Halloran, the two sides are each accusing the other of using race, religion or crime against the other.
The gloves started coming off when a local media outlet with ties to Kim branded Halloran a “Pagan Lord” on its front page. Republicans called the move by The Queens Tribune “outrageous” and pointed out that founder Congressmember Gary Ackerman, is Kim’s boss (he’s on leave during the campaign) and still holds an interest in the paper. They called on Kim to denounce “an attack on Halloran’s beliefs.”
While Kim only said “religion should not be an issue,” a highly-placed campaign source told The Queens Courier, “Halloran’s constantly reminding everybody what Catholic parish he’s from, which is deceptive because he isn’t a practicing Catholic anymore. He brought it up.”
Kim’s campaign has also questioned Halloran’s brief time with the police department before ultimately winding up in private law practice.
Halloran responded “My father died the day I was graduating from high school, so I had to work full time and go to college at night. I decided to follow three generations of my family into public service and enrolled as a police cadet. Then I won a dean’s scholarship, paying 50 percent the cost of law school, so I left the department to be a full-time student.”
Opponents call Kim “an attorney for developers.” He told The Queens Courier, “I was a real estate associate at a firm; I may have done some paperwork for a developer, but that’s about it.”
Kim supporters said Halloran “came from a family of developers” – because his great-grandfather was involved in building a number of single family homes in the area.
In mid-September, Kim campaign workers were allegedly harassed verbally while putting up posters in College Point – the incident was called a “hate crime” by supporters – opponents accused Kim of “injecting race into the campaign.”
On Monday, October 26, Kim stood with supporters calling a Halloran mailer showing Kim and a downtown Flushing street scene “racist.” Halloran’s camp dismissed the charge as “playing the race card.”
“The mailer is about over-development,” a Halloran source said. “Kim moved back and forth from Flushing to Manhattan – where his developer and out of district support comes from – until he moved into the district in February, in order to run for office. That’s the point.”
The next day, Halloran supporters accused Kim’s campaign for “more than 20” incidents where Halloran signs on private property were repeatedly thrown into the street or sliced-up with a box cutter “in the dead of night.”
“It’s criminal trespass; if the yard is fenced, it’s burglary,” said a Halloran spokesperson. “Voters are afraid – what if there’s a confrontation with a knife-wielding intruder? This must stop.”
By nightfall Tuesday, Halloran’s camp was distributing photos of a Korean non-profit illegally advertising for Kim during a recent voter registration drive.
The big question before the election has become, in the words of a Halloran supporter, “What’s next?”
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