Candidates eyeing Avella’s seat

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Joseph Concannon has entered the race to in the 11th Assembly District while  Elio Forcina is "strongly considering" it.
Joseph Concannon has entered the race to in the 11th Assembly District while Elio Forcina is "strongly considering" it.

State Senator Tony Avella recently announced his intent to seek re-election, but contenders vying for his 11th District seat plan on giving him a run for his money.

Republican challenger Joseph Concannon has entered the race, while Elio Forcina — who ran for State Assembly in 2010 — said he’s “strongly considering” it.

Concannon, a retired city police officer from Bellerose, told The Courier he “can do a lot more for the district” than the current leader.

“I think I can be more effective, address more of the issues in the area and spur some job creation as well,” he said. “I think in today’s economic environment, people want to work. They want opportunity in front of them.”

Concannon said the incumbent Avella “has not been effective at all in Albany” — a sentiment shared by Forcina as well.

“By many people in the district, they really feel somewhat oppressed by government getting into their business all over the place,” Concannon said. “My legislative agenda is to keep government as small as practical and as effective to relay service to the people of the state who are paying their taxes. I don’t think Avella has been good in that area at all.”

Forcina, a Democrat-turned-Republican from Whitestone, said he would run only if Kimon Thermos — a possible yet unofficial candidate — decides not to.

“I’m very fond of him, and if he wants to run, I’ll be supporting him instead,” said Forcina, an attorney and Marine Corp veteran.

Thermos could not be reached for comment.

Forcina cited Avella’s “immoral and unethical” campaign tactics against candidate Frank Padavan during the 2010 election as part of his reasons for wanting to seek office. He said Avella bashed Padavan for his religious and social views on abortion and gay marriage.

“I didn’t like the way Tony Avella’s campaign treated Frank Padavan. Avella’s message was ‘If you’re Catholic, you’re disqualified for running for public office.’ He attacked him. And because of that, I will support anyone who runs against Avella,” Forcina said.

Padavan, a popular Republican incumbent of 38 years, was ousted from his seat when Avella beat him in the down-to-the-wire race. Both candidates took shots at each other — Avella painted Padavan as a problem the voters sent to Albany for too long and as anti-woman’s rights, while Padavan insisted Avella give back alleged crooked funds provided by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee while they were under investigation by the Inspector General.

“For that reason, I think Queens needs a Republican up in the State Senate. That made me realize I could no longer be a Democrat. I don’t think Avella is able to bring anything back to his district,” Forcina said. “He gives a lot of press conferences that yield no results.”

Avella said in his announcement that “a great deal” was accomplished during his first term, but that there was still “a long way to go to reform Albany.” He said since taking office, he has “served this district faithfully, both in Albany and in the community, through bi-partisan legislative efforts, an unbridled defense of our neighborhoods from harmful over-development and unparalleled constituent services.” His accomplishments so far, he said, include authoring and introducing more than 50 bills and co-sponsoring more than 200 bills.

The Queens County Democratic Organization did not confirm if any Democratic runners plan on challenging Avella in this year’s primary.

“We’ll see what happens,” Forcina said.