Tag Archives: Barry Grodenchik

Mark Weprin’s former City Council seat won’t be filled until November


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jeff Xie

Mark Weprin officially left the City Council on Sunday, June 14 — apparently three days too late for a non-partisan special election to fill his seat.

Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed on Monday that the vacancy will be filled at the Nov. 3 general election, and that the political parties will nominate candidates for the election in the Sept. 10 primary.

According to a spokesperson for the city Board of Elections, a non-partisan special election cannot occur if the vacancy occurs between 60 and 90 days of the scheduled September primary. Had Weprin resigned before June 11, the mayor would have been obligated to call a non-partisan election.

Weprin had announced in May he would step down from the City Council to join the Cuomo administration as deputy secretary for legislative affairs. At the time, he said he would leave within two weeks, but ultimately delayed his departure.

Following the traditional election format now leads to a competitive Democratic primary among previously announced candidates including former Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik; Rebecca Lynch, former assistant commissioner with the New York City Community Affairs Unit; Celia Dosamantes, former aide to Assemblyman David Weprin and Rep. Grace Meng; attorney Ali Najmi; and former City Council candidate Bob Friedrich.

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will face the Republican nominee in the general election. Sources close to the Queens County GOP identified retired NYPD Capt. Joe Concannon as a probable candidate.

Once the general election winner is certified, he or she will be sworn into office immediately and will fill out the remainder of Weprin’s term, which expires in 2017.

Regardless of the outcome, the 23rd Council District — which includes Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village — will be without a voice in the City Council through November. Constituent services are continuing to function from the district office, and staff members are forwarding and following up on any complaints or service requests received.

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David Weprin won’t run for brother’s City Council seat


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photos

There won’t be another Weprin switcheroo at City Hall.

Assemblyman David Weprin ruled out a run last week for the City Council seat that his brother, Mark Weprin, will vacate soon in order to become Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs, according to a spokesperson for the assemblyman. David Weprin will instead seek re-election in 2016.

The Weprin brothers previously traded legislative seats. David Weprin occupied the 23rd City Council seat for eight years before making a failed run for city comptroller in 2009. Mark Weprin — then occupying the Assembly seat previously held by their late father, Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin — ran for and won his brother’s City Council seat.

After Mark Weprin stepped down from the Assembly to become city councilman, David Weprin won his brother’s and his father’s former Assembly seat in a 2010 special election.

Many observers believed David Weprin would jump at the chance of returning to City Hall after Mark Weprin announced his resignation from the City Council on May 11. According to the New York Observer, David Weprin told supporters on May 14 he would stay in Albany, noting that he was recently promoted to the Assembly’s leadership by current Speaker Carl Heastie.

“I’ve decided that I plan on running for re-election to the Assembly,” David Weprin was quoted in the Observer article. “I’ve enjoyed what I’ve accomplished so far in the Assembly. I think I have a lot more to do. I’ve developed a lot of seniority in a short time — a lot of people have left.”

Once Mark Weprin’s City Council resignation takes effect, Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to call a special non-partisan election to be held within the following 60 days. Each candidate must obtain their own ballot line; political parties cannot nominate a candidate, but may make endorsements.

Former Assemblyman and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik already confirmed his interest in the race. Other potential candidates include Dominic Panakal, chief-of-staff to Councilman Rory Lancman; attorney Ali Najmi; and former City Council candidates Bob Friedrich and Steven Behar.

The 23rd Council seat covers all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

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Barry Grodenchik drops out of BP race after key endorsement goes to Katz


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Former assemblymember Barry Grodenchik has ended his borough president bid less than a day after being beat for a key county endorsement.

“The next borough president must focus like a laser on jobs, education, healthcare, economic development and Sandy recovery,” Grodenchik said. “I am proud to have brought those issues to the forefront of the debate. But at this time, I believe that it is in the best interest of my family, team and party to end my candidacy.”

Grodenchik, 53, served as deputy borough president from 2009 to earlier this year, when he stepped down in order to run for BP.

The Queens County Democratic Party endorsed his rival, Melinda Katz, on Monday.

Sources close to the race said the endorsement, coupled with Grodenchik’s exit, was meant to give Katz a much-needed boost over front-runner Peter Vallone Jr. The councilmember leads the race both in polls and in fundraising.

Sources said Grodenchik’s move could also give Katz a better chance of securing key votes from the Orthodox Jewish community, where Grodenchik had strong support.

Katz already has the endorsement of several southeast leaders including the Reverend Floyd Flake, senior pastor of the 23,000-member Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica.

Vallone, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee, has the support of law enforcement groups including the Detectives Endowment Association, the New York City Fire Marshals Benevolent Association and the NYPD Captains Endowment Association.

Councilmember Leroy Comrie and State Senator Tony Avella are rumored to be thinking of dropping out of the beep race. Neither campaign returned calls for comment.

Political insiders said the county’s leadership has been increasing efforts to hurt Vallone’s chances.

“It’s very obvious that this was an ‘ABV’ choice,” said a Queens political operative, meaning “Anybody But Vallone.”

The Queens County Democratic Party did not immediately comment.

Vallone, often seen as being too vocal, said the recent developments have not hurt his campaign.

“That’s fine,” he said. “As I’ve said from day one, it doesn’t matter. I never expected county support, and it doesn’t matter to me if there are two candidates or 10. I’m still going to be in this until the end, and I intend to win it.”

Candidates focus on development at Borough President forum


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

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Questions regarding development at Willets Point, directed mainly at three of the six candidates, became a significant part of a recent forum for borough president.

Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. and Leroy Comrie, State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella, former Councilmember and Assemblymember Melinda Katz and former Deputy BP Barry Grodenchik took the stage at the Friday, April 12 meeting, co-hosted by the Queens Chamber of Commerce and St. John’s University.

Specific questions were directed at each candidate, with Comrie, Vallone and Peralta each addressing how, if elected, he would reshape the area known as the Iron Triangle.

Peralta harkened on making Queens a destination location – a policy of incumbent Helen Marshall. With the planned “Tech Campus” coming to Roosevelt Island, Peralta suggested pushing for a tech sector near Willets Point. But affordable housing and better infrastructure are the first step, he said.

Comrie, who chairs the Council’s Land Use Committee, said he’s open to re-exploring a convention center at Willets Point. He also mentioned a potential center at Aqueduct, where Governor Andrew Cuomo had originally proposed one.

“We really need a convention center for the borough,” Comrie said, adding better transportation options would need to be explored for south Queens if convention center talks resurged.

Vallone said Queens residents, in a recent poll, would like to see full-gaming in the borough at Resorts World Casino New York City.

The councilmember, however, is also open to a convention center or further retail shops at the site. But, he said, it would have to be the community’s call on what goes there.

There is about 4.5 million-square-feet of Willets Point the city plans on developing over the next few decades, once the projects on either side of Citi Field are completed.

The borough president’s role in Queens, better transportation and small business growth were also hot topics at the business-focused forum.

Traditionally, a Beep has been branded a “cheerleader” for Queens, but most felt it was more than that.

Grodenchik said he viewed the role as a leader and if elected, he wanted more to be “the quarterback of Queens.”

Katz, who chaired the Land Use Committee before Comrie, touted her record of working across the city and what it takes to be borough president.

“You should be able to create an economic vision for the borough of Queens,” she said. “I think it’s important to span that throughout the borough.”

State Senator Tony Avella said the borough president needed to also serve as a public advocate for the diverse neighborhoods, and the “mom and pop” small businesses who often get hit with city fines.

 

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Borough President candidates making the rounds


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BP candidates

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

Borough President candidates are blazing through Queens, participating in forums and allowing the community to hear their positions.

The six Democrats hoping to replace current Borough President Helen Marshall most recently gathered at the Hollis Hills Jewish Center in Fresh Meadows and attended the Ridgewood Democratic Club’s monthly meeting.

State Senators Tony Avella and Jose Peralta joined City Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. and Leroy Comrie, former Assembly and Councilmember Melinda Katz and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik to speak to members of several Democratic clubs across Queens.

In Fresh Meadows, discussion of mayoral control of the Board of Education (BOE) dominated the forum.
Grodenchik said he has mixed feelings towards the issue, but he wants to “bring some measure of control back to the boroughs.”

The controversy surrounding development of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was also heavily debated. Peralta said he in favor of the proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium, but would ensure that the park space used not only has to be replaced, but improved.

“It has to be better,” he said, calling soccer “the sport of the world.”

Despite his support for the stadium, he is opposed to the proposed plans for a shopping mall and an expansion of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) center.

Vallone said that he wanted to eliminate overexpansion in the park and bring it to areas in the borough that are “yearning for that kind of development.”

Avella, however, said he is the only candidate that is steadfastly against all three proposals for development.

All of the candidates will continue to campaign and participate in forums across Queens until election day on

Tuesday, November 5. The next forum will be held at St. John’s University on Friday, April 12.

 

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Borough president candidates pick up endorsements


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

fe315fd1-229b-4154-8200-0c149db1f1afwallpaper

As the candidates start to get out and campaign, the race is heating up for the next Queens borough president.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who has led in terms of fundraising since mid-2012, was the most recent candidate to officially kick off his campaign with an event on Monday, March 11 in his native Astoria. Norman Seabrook, president of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, gave the group’s endorsement at the rally.

Former councilmember and former assemblymember Melinda Katz has picked up the backing of the late former Mayor Ed Koch, and the Rev. Floyd Flake, a former congressmember and current senior pastor of the Greater Allen A. M. E. Cathedral of New York.

“It’s been 20 years,” she said of her relationships and endorsements. “I’ve been extremely fortunate in my life to have made a lot of friends.” As former chair of the Land Use Committee, Katz said she gained considerable experience working with the entire borough, either to preserve neighborhoods or help economic growth in others.

State Senator Jose Peralta, representing mainly Corona, has been an advocate for replenishing portions of his district, particularly developing Willets Point and cleaning up Roosevelt Avenue. Union 32 BJ SEIU endorsed Peralta’s candidacy on Friday, March 8.

“No one fights harder for working families and immigrant New Yorkers than SEIU 32BJ, and I am thrilled that they have joined our campaign,” Peralta said. “The thousands of 32BJ members who live in Queens know that we need new leadership to make sure that every child receives a great public school education, that families have a chance to succeed no matter where they come from, and that no neighborhood or borough is left behind when it comes to city services and public safety.”

Former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik has been backed by Queens-based Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. “It is an honor to have the support of Local 3, and the thousands of Queens residents that belong to this great union,” Grodenchik said. “Together we’re going to bring hands on, visible leadership, and continue the fight to bring good paying jobs to Queens.”

Representatives for Councilmember Leroy Comrie and State Senator Tony Avella were contacted regarding their races, but did not return calls as of press time.

 

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Katz campaign raises over $280,000 in quest for Borough Presidency


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Melinda Katz is taking a lead in campaign finances for the borough presidency as her campaign announced the former politician has raised more than $280,000 in the last four months.

“I am so appreciative to our hundreds of donors and their support for my candidacy,” Katz said in a statement. “Our fundraising success is a reflection of how well our message is being received among Queens residents.   The campaign, based on improving the lives of all Queens residents by increasing economic opportunities, and striking the proper balance with the needs of a community is resonating.”

The campaign has roughly $250,000 on hand; $40,000 of which can be matched by the city’s match fund, adding an extra $240,000 to her war chest, according to a campaign statement.

Katz, who hasn’t been in office since 2009, nabbed an endorsement from former Mayor Ed Koch last month in the hotly-contested race for Borough Hall.

She faces off against Councilmembers Peter Vallone and Leroy Comrie; State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella; and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik – who stepped down from his position last month to run.

Vallone is reported to still lead on the fundraising front, having capped out how much he could raise some time ago.

 

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Vallone officially announces borough president bid


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo by Alex DiBlasi

Councilmember Peter Vallone’s holiday surprise wasn’t all that surprising.

Vallone announced his bid for Queens borough president at his father’s annual holiday party on Tuesday, December 11, surrounded by friends and family. Throughout the year, rumors have swirled about the Astoria councilmember’s potential run for Borough President Helen Marshall’s soon-to-be-empty seat. However, Vallone never officially stated until the party that he intended to run for the borough presidency.

“I’ve been considering [running] for a long time now. I’ve been out there fighting for the borough I love for a long time. I’ve got a track record of doing that. I understand what Queens is about. I’m a product of Queens. I’m going to spend the rest of my life in Queens. I’d like to work with all of you to continue to make Queens even better and better,” Vallone said.

So far, Vallone has raised roughly $1.5 million for his borough president campaign — significantly higher than any other potential candidate.

Former Councilmember and Assemblymember Melinda Katz, Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik, State Senator Jose Peralta and State Senator Tony Avella have already announced their intentions to run for Marshall’s seat. Councilmember Leroy Comrie, a favorite of the Queens County Democratic Party, is rumored to be running for BP as well.

Vallone said his business background separated him in the crowded field.

“I understand Queens. I’ve spent my whole life here — raised my family here. I still live around the corner from my dad,” he said. “The law firm has been there since 1932. Queens is made up of small business owners like the people in this room, and I am the only candidate with any business experience.”

Avella announces borough president run


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Tony Avella

A northeast Queens legislator has joined the large circle of Democrats vying for next year’s borough presidency.

State Senator Tony Avella, 61, announced he will run to replace outgoing Borough President Helen Marshall.

“I think Queens needs a voice, and I don’t think we’ve had that,” said Avella, who won re-election to his Senate seat earlier this month. “The office of the borough president could be much more involved in handling the borough-wide issues. I just think we could do a much better job.”

The former two-term city councilmember said he is “continually frustrated” at unhandled problems in Queens, including tree maintenance, curb replacement and school issues.

Superstorm Sandy, Avella said, could have also been less devastating if the borough leader fought for resources that instead went to other parts of the city.

“It runs the gamut,” he said. “What really made the decision for me was the lack of preparation and response to Queens after the hurricane. I thought the office of the borough president could have been much more visible and much more active.”

Other big name Democratic candidates who have announced their intent to vie for the seat include Councilmember Leroy Comrie, State Senator José Peralta and former legislator Melinda Katz.

Councilmember Peter Vallone and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik are also rumored to be eyeing the position.

“I think I have widespread name recognition throughout the borough,” Avella said. “I think I take a much more hands-on approach, which I think is really necessary.”

Avella said he would seek an endorsement from the Queens County Democratic Committee but would run regardless of the party’s support.