Tag Archives: candidates

Incumbent Elizabeth Crowley comes out on top after tough challenge


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley will return to the City Council after overcoming a stiff challenge from candidate Craig Caruana.

The councilmember celebrated the win with supporters and family members at her victory party at Woodhaven House in Middle Village, after the race initially seemed close.

“This has been a long campaign, but the people of the 30th council district have spoken tonight,” Crowley said, “and guess what? They want to send me back to city hall.”

Crowley won nearly 59 percent of the vote, according to early polling numbers, while Caruana took about 41 percent, a gap of approximately 3,000 votes.

Crowley has served District 30, which encompasses Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood and parts of Woodhaven and Woodside for nearly four years, tackling issues from education, traffic and preventing firehouse closures.

The race against Caruana was initially one sided in the incumbent’s favor, but following an endorsement from mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and a feisty debate, Caruana, a political newbie, gained some traction.

“[Caruana] ran a good campaign,” Crowley said. “ I think that when you have a challenge it makes you work harder.”

Early results from polling sites showed Crowley only leading by about five percent, but that number gradually started to expand. Now with the election behind her she plans to get back on track with key issues.

“I want to improve transportation,” Crowley said. “Queens is growing and so is the 30th council district.”

Caruana, who was confident he could unseat Crowley, conceded and talked to his supporters at Collony’s Corner in Maspeth.

“There are serious losses that you take in life and this isn’t one of them,” he said. “If you expend yourself in fighting for something that you really believe in and you expend yourself sometimes in struggle, especially what you put your heart into, you can’t lose.”

 

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Lancman to vie for Gennaro’s City Council seat


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A state lawmaker is looking to take his legislative know-how to City Hall.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman officially announced his candidacy for City Council on Monday, November 19. The Democratic hopeful will seek to head the 24th Council District, which currently stretches from Fresh Meadows to Jamaica and is led by outgoing Councilmember James Gennaro.

“The city faces tremendous challenges in terms of the economy, the education system,” said Lancman, 43. “There’s going to be a real need for people who have legislative experience and the energy to try to tackle these issues head on, so I’m throwing my hat in the ring.”

Lancman, who decided not to seek re-election after serving the assembly for six years, had been on the fence about making a run to join the city’s lawmaking body since his failed congressional bid back in June.

But the “tremendous turnover in city government” next year — including the mayor and half of the City Council — made the decision easier, Lancman said.

“It’s going to be a very, very exciting time for the city, where the slate of government is going to be wiped clean,” he said.

Lancman said shaping city policy outweighed other options he considered for the “next chapter” of his life, which included going back to being a full-time lawyer or working in the nonprofit world.

“I really thought about what I really wanted to do in the next chapter of my life, what would give me satisfaction,” he said. “What really excites me about getting up every morning is being in public service. That is the most exciting thing for me.”

The lure of the open seat has already drawn in Martha Taylor, 72, who has declared her candidacy in the race to replace Gennaro. The lawyer from Jamaica Estates is also the Democratic District Leader in the 24th Assembly District, president of the Jamaica Estates Association and vice chair of Community Board 8.

City Council elections take place next November. A primary date has not yet been set.

City Council seats draw big names


| mchan@queenscourier.com

ne council

A handful of political hopefuls in northeast Queens are already mulling over a chance to join the city’s lawmaking body next year.

The draw of taking over one vacant city council seat and possibly ousting one of the borough’s only two Republicans in another district has been luring in a number of interested candidates.

Councilmember James Gennaro is currently rounding out his third and final term leading the 24th District, which stretches from Fresh Meadows to Jamaica, and will be forced to leave his post in January 2013.

Martha Taylor, 72, has already declared her candidacy in the race to replace him. But the lawyer from Jamaica Estates may have to face off with Assemblymember Rory Lancman, should rumors of him entering the city race — spread after the Fresh Meadows attorney lost his bid for Congress in June — turn out to be true.

Taylor, a first-time candidate, is the Democratic District Leader in the 24th Assembly District, president of the Jamaica Estates Association and vice chair of Community Board 8.

Meanwhile, a bigger candidate ring is growing in the 19th District, which extends from College Point to the borders of Nassau County, currently served by Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran. Halloran has his eyes set on winning the 6th District Congressional seat, but sources say if his Capitol Hill run fails, he will try for re-election to the Council.

Democratic State Committeeman Matthew Silverstein, former Assemblymember John Duane and attorney Paul Vallone — the son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. — are three existing, serious contenders for the seat.

Austin Shafran, the 31-year-old vice president of public affairs for government agency Empire State Development, has had his name bandied about, while longtime community activist Jerry Iannece — who was defeated in last month’s state Assembly primary — told The Courier he would “neither deny nor confirm” rumors of his entering the race.

No Republican candidate has stepped up to the plate yet, although it is still early. Buzz in the political sphere of John Messer — who recently lost a Democratic Senate primary against Senator Toby Ann Stavisky — joining were false, the Oakland Gardens attorney confirmed.

City Council elections take place next November.

Where Does Unspent Campaign Money Go?


| kevinj.ryanmail@gmail.com

In this busy political season, candidates struggle to raise funds for their war chests, in the hopes of winning their races. Even with the enormous amount of money needed to mount a political campaign, there is often some left over after the buzzer. What happens to that unspent campaign money?

According to the rules set forth by the Federal and State Election Commissions, candidates’ committees can generally do a variety of things with surplus funds. Whatever they choose to do with it, it must be reported to the applicable commission in accordance with its rules. A surplus amount only exists if there is any money left over after all expenses and debts have been paid.

All expenditures must be filed under one of several general categories. The one universal rule is that the money must not be spent for “personal use.”

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) says that campaign funds may be used in a wide variety of ways, including:

• Moving expenses (including costs associated with “winding down” an office or campaign for a losing candidate)

• Payments to Committee

• Gifts. Campaign funds may be used to purchase gifts or make donations of nominal value to persons other than the members of the candidate’s family.

• Donations to charitable organizations

• Unlimited transfers to any national, state or local political party committee

• Donations to state and local candidates, pursuant to state law

• Returning it to the original donors

• Any other lawful purpose that is not considered a personal use

What constitutes personal use? It’s a murky area, but The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) states that an expenditure is considered personal use “if the contribution or amount is used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign or individual’s duties as a holder of Federal office, including:

(A) a home mortgage, rent, or utility payment;

(B) a clothing purchase;

(C) a non campaign-related automobile expense;

(D) a country club membership;

(E) a vacation or other noncampaign-related trip;

(F) a household food item;

(G) a tuition payment;

(H) admission to a sporting event, concert, theater, or

other form of entertainment not associated with an election campaign; and

(I) dues, fees, and other payments to a health club or recreational facility.”

Similarly, New York State Election Law says that surplus campaign funds may be transferred to a constituted committee or party committee, contributed to a charity, prorated and returned to the donors, or held for use in a subsequent election campaign. Surplus campaign funds may also be used by an elected official for any lawful purpose, including defraying the ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with his or her duties as the holder of an elected office. Contributions may not be converted to personal use not related to political campaign or holding public office or party position.

A candidate could hold on to campaign money for years, as long as he or she is still contemplating another run for office. Expenditures related to keeping that possibility alive, such as parties and dinners, are permissible.

Candidates who receive matching public funds from the government, such as New York City candidates receiving public funds from the Campaign Finance Program of

the New York City Campaign Finance Board, are required to use surplus money to repay public funds to the government. However, it can be a slow and difficult process for the City to collect those funds.

Leaving aside the broader issue of campaign finance, there is always the potential for abuse in reporting surplus expenditures, such as hiding the true purpose of expenditures by filing them under one of the acceptable uses. But given how much time and effort candidates and their committees need to spend to raise funds in even the smallest race, the law gives them latitude on how to spend it.

Let’s hope our Queens leaders and their staff are keeping accurate, open and timely records of the hard-earned money that voters donate to them.

 

Politics in the Social Media Age


| editorial@queenscourier.com

By Kevin J. Ryan
As the technology that connects us constantly evolves, the core skill of written communication is the one constant foundation on which good technological communications must be built. However, public relations professionals, especially those working for a public figure, need to be proficient at using all the latest means of delivering their message. Today’s communications toolbox includes web sites, press releases, blogging, email, Facebook, Twitter, web analytics, YouTube, Digg and search engine optimization.

Demand the Brand

The names of celebrities are brands, like Nike or Apple. They differ from corporations, however, because they are each a personal brand. Public figures must promote and protect that brand even more rigorously than a corporation, because their own name is much harder to rehabilitate once it is damaged. Rock stars, movie stars and athletes are all personal brands, but politicians are under greater scrutiny.

A cautionary tale for politicians using social media is that of former Congressmember Anthony Weiner. The Weinergate flap ended his career and handed the district back to the Republicans. A company can introduce new products or change executive leadership to recover from a controversy, but a politician has no such luxury. The speed and effectiveness of social media is a double-edged sword. What takes seconds to post can cling to a public figure forever.

The Social Media Advantage

Twitter and Facebook are essentially short-form messaging platforms. A brief (140 characters) text message or “microblog,” often accompanied by a link, is all that fits in a Tweet. Facebook allows one to show and see a bit more, which can be better or worse. Like any format of writing, it’s as effective as the writer makes it. The text needs to catch the reader’s attention so that he or she will want to click on the link or follow the poster. A politician or campaign can waste a lot of time on Facebook or Twitter with little reward, if they’re not careful. As with all media, judicious use is key.
Candidates and officials from both parties have embraced the Internet and its social media tools to stay in touch with their constituents and keep them informed. Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s recent State Senate campaign was announced with YouTube, rather than an old-fashioned press conference. The video was distributed via social networking, such as Ulrich’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. Newspapers and bloggers immediately picked it up that morning.

One of the main uses of Twitter and Facebook is to push traffic (“hits”) to a blog/web site, where constituents should be able to see pictures, videos, full-length articles, press releases and biographical information on a candidate.

The traffic can be monitored with tools like Google Analytics, allowing staff to see which Tweets and Facebook posts are most popular. This is especially useful for a politician, because it enables him or her to gauge which issues are most important to voters.

Monitoring programs also allow users to see where the traffic is coming from and which links are being clicked, so a campaign can decide which news outlets or advertising opportunities are most effective. They can see referral traffic, where it’s coming from and where it’s being sent. Analytic programs are among the most useful, cost-effective weapons in the social media arsenal.

Google recently launched a new marketing campaign called Four Screens to Victory, as both a promotion for their technology and a tutorial on how to use it to reach voters via TV, computer, tablet and phone.

Another advantage to Internet-based communication is the timing. When voters look at Twitter, Facebook or a site like Google, they are receptive to messages and want to connect and gain information. More traditional media, like TV, radio and paper mailings often catch people when they’re either much less receptive or otherwise occupied. They can also bookmark, come back and look at a politician’s Tweet, blog or Facebook page at their convenience. That means the presence is long-term and cost-effective, especially for local politics.

Accept No Substitute

Twitter and Facebook are merely tools that will someday go the way of Betamax and MySpace. But the essential core communication skills necessary to make productive use of these tools will always be the same. Skill at writing, regardless of length, format or purpose is what drives a successful public relations campaign. The message needs to be clear, consistent and engaging.

All of these techno-tools can be learned fairly quickly, but there will never be a substitute for knowing how to write a good article, paragraph or line. Good writing is much harder to learn and far more valuable as it disappears from the world. Our Queens community leaders must balance both and continue to adapt to the ever-changing technological landscape.

6th District candidates pick up endorsements


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Candidates in the buzzing 6th Congressional District race have rolled out more boosts to their campaigns. Councilmember Dan Halloran picked up support from the Uniformed Fire Marshals Association, while Assemblymember Rory Lancman got the backing of the Communications Workers of America, District 1.

Contending for the same seat, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley got a leg up from the Captains Endowment Association — which represents the NYPD’s captains, deputy inspectors,inspectors and deputy chiefs — along with the Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York and Long Island.

Assemblymember Grace Meng — the Queens County Democratic Organization’s bid — received endorsements from Latino community leaders, including former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblymember Francisco Moya. She also received shared endorsements by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, former Comptroller Bill Thompson and public advocate Bill de Blasio.

Jeff Gottlieb — who Lancman accused of being a “sham candidate” — did not receive any endorsements as of April 18, said Jay Golub, Gottlieb’s campaign spokesperson.