Tag Archives: City Council District 19 race

Graziano crosses lines, endorses Republican candidate Saffran in District 19 race


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

That’s the proverbial message a northeast Queens Democrat is sending by crossing party lines to endorse the Republican candidate over the one who beat him at the polls last month.

Paul Graziano, who came in third in the Democratic primary for District 19 to Paul Vallone, publicly endorsed Vallone’s general election opponent, Dennis Saffran, on Tuesday.

“Voting for the best person in the race is more important than voting for your party,” Graziano said.

The Flushing urban planner said the decision was not made lightly, but the move is not entirely surprising to spectators of the closely watched contest.

Graziano had slammed Vallone multiple times in forums for being a registered lobbyist. He was also one of three primary foes targeted in accusatory hit pieces paid for by a political action committee called Jobs for New York, which endorsed Vallone.

The fuming trio, who included Chrissy Voskerichian and Austin Shafran, took turns grilling Vallone during a televised debate and at a press conference they held to call on him to denounce the mailers.

“During the campaign, Paul Vallone refused to take responsibility for any of these acts,” Graziano said.

“We’ve had four years of not having an adult in the room,” Graziano added, referring to the sitting but scandal-scarred incumbent, Councilmember Dan Halloran. “To me, this is just a continuation, if not worse.”

Runner-up Shafran, who narrowly lost by less than 200 votes, said he would not support either candidate. Voskerichian said she would not endorse Vallone and was not endorsing Saffran at this time.

Vallone did get the backing of John Duane, however, who finished second to last. Duane was not attacked in the mailers but had a hand in calling Vallone out for them.

The endorsement was not public and Duane did not give a reason for it.

“Whatever differences Paul [Graziano] and I have is pale next to our differences with Paul Vallone,” Saffran said.

Vallone’s campaign fired back, saying Saffran “has been missing in action in this community for over a decade.”

“That probably explains why the leaders we know and trust have endorsed Paul Vallone, including Senator Chuck Schumer, the United Federation of Teachers and countless others,” said Vallone spokesperson Austin Finan.

Vallone and Saffran will face off on November 5.

 

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Political Roundup: Schumer backs Vallone


| editorial@queenscourier.com

ROUNDUP

Senator Schumer endorses Paul Vallone 

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer endorsed City Council candidate Paul Vallone for the District 19 seat on Monday.

“I have known the Vallone family for decades and their respected name and commitment to public service have made the people of Queens proud to call them their own,” Schumer said.

Vallone was recently endorsed by former Congressmember Gary Ackerman.

He faces Republican challenger Dennis Saffran in the November general election.

 

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Paul Vallone wins District 19 primary in final vote count, Shafran concedes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photos

Paul Vallone can pop the champagne bottle — again.

Final vote counts officially sealed the win for the Flushing attorney in a hard-fought and close Democratic primary race for City Council.

“I couldn’t be any more excited,” said Vallone, 46. “It was a delayed week, but it was very exciting.”

Vallone declared his victory on primary night last Tuesday, September 10, in a contentious race to replace scandal-scarred Councilmember Dan Halloran in the 19th District.

But the announcement was seemingly premature, as runner-up candidate Austin Shafran trailed by 144 votes and refused to concede.

With nearly 99 percent of precincts reporting, Vallone was leading his four opponents by about 31 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. He had 2,723 votes to Shafran’s 2,579.

Vallone was declared the champion again after voting machines were checked and paper ballots were counted, a process that began late last week, his campaign said. He won by nearly 200 votes, according to preliminary results.

“You had to be strong all the way through,” Vallone said. “I kind of always hoped the paper ballots would reflect what the primary night results did. It ended up even giving us a little boost.”

His campaign manager, Austin Finan, said the gap between the two candidates narrowed to 134 votes last Friday after machines were recanvassed.

Vallone then gained 59 more votes to secure his victory on September 16, when affidavits, absentee and emergency paper ballots were tallied, Finan said.

While a spokesperson for the Board of Elections said the results could not yet be confirmed, Shafran said he would not contest them.

“We gave it a try. We went up against the Vallone name, which is pretty big,” he said. “I’ve had better days, but you come to grips with it a little bit every day.”

“At the end of the day, it’s under 200 votes total between the margin of victory. That’s like two votes per election district,” Shafran continued. “But whether you lost by one or 1,000, it doesn’t really matter in the long run.”

The race also included third place finisher Paul Graziano with 1,539 votes, John Duane with 1,005 votes and Chrissy Voskerichian with 900 votes, according to unofficial results.

Vallone — the son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother to Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. — will face off with Republican Dennis Saffran in the November general election.

Primary guide: City Council District 19


| editorial@queenscourier.com

19

As the clock ticks closer to city primaries on Tuesday, September 10, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running. Here is a list of the candidates in City Council District 19 (College Point, Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston and Little Neck), who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November.

Name: John Duane

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Father, consumer advocate, attorney

Personal Info: John Duane was born and raised in northeast Queens, where he also raised his three children and has lived his whole life. He knows better than anyone the issues facing the community. As a state assemblymember, Duane wrote 22 bills that became law, including the Vietnam Veterans Tuition Assistance Law. As an assistant attorney general, he took on ConEd and won $30 million in refunds for taxpayers. In his law practice, Duane fights deceptive credit counselors and has won $250 million in judgments for victims of fraud.

Issues/Platforms: Duane knows that a government cannot function properly without the trust and involvement of its citizenry. He will be a full-time city councilmember and has proposed a comprehensive “Integrity Plan” to regain public trust that includes full-transparency and creating a discretionary spending oversight board. Duane’s other priorities include fighting overdevelopment and keeping small businesses thriving by not letting the city target them unfairly as a source of revenue. Duane will use his office to improve public education and increase parental involvement in our schools. He has also made providing services to our seniors and veterans a top priority.

Name: Paul Graziano

Party:  Democrat

Current Occupation:  Urban planning/historic preservation consultant

Personal Info: Graziano, 42, is a lifelong resident of North Flushing and the son of two CUNY professors. Educated at P.S. 21, I.S. 227, Bronx H.S.  of Science, University of Massachusetts-Amherst (BA-Comparative Literature) and Hunter College (MS-Urban Affairs), he is marrying his fiancée, Elzbieta, in September.

Issues/Platforms: For two decades, Graziano has tirelessly protected the 19th Council District from overdevelopment, including successfully downzoning every neighborhood; creating the R2A “anti-McMansion” zone; placing 1,330 buildings in Broadway-Flushing on the National Register of Historic Places; getting Douglaston Hill and the Schleicher and Ginsburg mansions landmark designation; and helping win the fight to turn Fort Totten into a public park and historic district when it was slated to be sold to developers.

Graziano’s work also focuses on education reforms, including ending mayoral control of the Department of Education, replacing top-down “Teaching to the Test” decision-making with local teachers and parents deciding their children’s future; reinstituting art, music, after-school activities and tutoring; protesting against the DOE’s proposed school facility at Keil Brother’s on 48th Avenue in July; and standing in solidarity with teachers, parents and students against an abusive principal at P.S. 29 in August.

Name: Austin Shafran

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Full-time candidate for City Council

Personal Info: Austin Shafran was born and raised in Bayside, where committed to public service, he worked tirelessly for CongressmemberGary Ackerman and then for Governor Andrew Cuomo to deliver a better and brighter future for the northeast Queens neighborhoods he is proud to call home. Whether it was playing for award-winning local little leagues or helping countless families access vital services, Shafran’s connection and commitment to his neighborhoods is deep and sincere. He said he would fight harder than anyone to clean up corruption, give schools the support they need, and make sure families and seniors can afford to stay in our neighborhoods.

Issues/Platforms: As councilmember, Shafran will cut property taxes and water rates for homeowners, co-ops and condo owners and reduce income taxes for middle class families; provide more funding for senior services; improve schools by reducing class sizes, stop high-stakes testing and increase input for parents and educators; crack down on unscrupulous developers threatening neighborhoods and ban outside employment for councilmembers to stand up to the special interests and put our community first.

Name: Paul Vallone

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Attorney

Personal Info: Paul Vallone is the managing partner of the family law firm of Vallone & Vallone. He currently serves as president of the Clinton Democratic Club, immediate past president and founding member of the Bayside-Whitestone Lions Club and board member of Community Board 7. Vallone also serves as counsel and board member to the Auburndale Soccer Club and was previously appointed to serve as a board member to the New York City Board of Corrections. Vallone and his wife, Anna-Marie, live in Flushing with their three children Catena, Lea and Charlie.

Issues/Platforms: Vallone is running to restore honest and effective Democratic leadership to the 19th City Council seat. His top priorities include putting more cops on the street, standing with other small business owners against unfair regulations and crushing fines, keeping schools the best in the city, preserving the residential character of neighborhoods, combating the incessant airplane noise pollution plaguing neighborhoods and ensuring that northeast Queens finally gets its fair share from City Hall. Vallone has been endorsed by the Queens County Democratic Party, Congressmember Grace Meng, Assemblymember Ed Braunstein, Senator Toby Stavisky, Assemblymember Ron Kim, Assemblymember Mike Simanowitz and former City Council Candidates Kevin Kim and Jerry Iannece.

Name: Chrissy Voskerichian

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Civic leader, 109th  Precinct Council President

Personal Info: Voskerichian started working when she was just 16 years old. She moved through the ranks of the telecommunications industry, retiring after 31 years as director of Global Sales & Operations for one of the largest firms in the world to focus more on her neighborhood. She founded the Station Road Civic Association and in 2009 was elected president of the 109th Precinct Community Council where she has worked hard to create a partnership between the NYPD and the community. She served as chief of staff for the District 19 City Council office.

Issues/Platforms: Voskerichian’s main priority is to protect the quality of life in northeast Queens and ensure that public safety is never compromised. She believes the city must give police officers and firefighters the tools they need to do their jobs. Voskerichian also stresses the need to support teachers by building new schools to reduce class sizes and giving kids a head start with free Universal Pre-K for every child. Finally, she promises to make constituent services a focus of her office. She will use her knowledge and experience to have a fully functional office capable of helping everyone and improving the community she calls home.

 

MORE PRIMARY GUIDES

 

Former Congressmember Gary Ackerman backs City Council candidate Austin Shafran


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Former Congressmember Gary Ackerman has endorsed Austin Shafran, candidate for District 19 of the City Council.

On Monday, July 22, Ackerman announced he would be endorse his former community liaison.

“Austin is a lifelong member of our community who has the integrity and experience to serve our community honestly and effectively,” said Ackerman. “Austin is the strong voice we need fighting for northeast Queens in the City Council.”

Ackerman represented northeast Queens from 1983 to 2013. As a congressmember, he helped bring forth legislation including the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Wall Street reform and other laws.

Shafran started his public service career with Ackerman. According to the former congressmember, while Shafran worked for him, he noticed how much he cared for the community.

“The proudest moment in politics and in life is earning the respect and support of someone you admire, and there is no one I look up to more than Gary Ackerman,” said Shafran. “Working for Congressman Ackerman, I saw how government could work and get things done for our community. Gary has been a personal and professional inspiration for me, and I will work every day to continue his legacy of service for our families, seniors and children.”

 

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District 19 candidate Shafran wants to clean up City Council


| editorial@queenscourier.com


One candidate has a plan to clean up the city council.

Austin Shafran, who is running in the District 19 race, believes the key to fighting government corruption is to limit politicians’ outside influences, and take the power out of their hands and put it into the local community.

“Our community isn’t getting the fair share we deserve because of the corrupting influence of outside business interests.

For our voice and our needs to be heard at City Hall, we must clean up the corruption and create an honest and effective government that gets things done,” said Shafran.

His three-point proposal targets conflicts of interest for councilmembers and their employees, and makes sure funding is fairly distributed among districts.

Shafran would like to prohibit all outside employment from which city councilmembers receive income. The ban would make the position “full-time” and eliminate outside corrupting interests, he said.

Councilmembers would still be allowed to derive profits from stock and bond investments, personal and family trusts, retirement funds or through inheritance, he said.

Another plan point would eliminate conflict of interests arising from lobbyists.

“We need to take the ‘who you know’ out of government,” said Shafran.

His proposal bans city-registered corporate lobbyists and their firms from lobbying family members who are elected to public office and elected officials they work for as campaign staff or consultants for the duration of the term immediately after the most recent election cycle.

His final point ensures local communities have a final say in what projects receive funding from the city council, and every district receives an equal share.

“It’s the taxpayers’ money,” he said.

Shafran said [his campaign] “is about protecting our neighborhoods through public service,” and that is why he is proposing his plan.

 

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Matthew Silverstein drops out of District 19 primary race


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Matthew Silverstein, one the five candidates running in the District 19 Democratic primary race to defeat the incumbent councilmember, Dan Halloran, announce he is dropping out of the race.

In a statement, Silverstein confirmed he will be ending his campaign for City Council after going through one of the most difficult years of his life last year with his mother passing away in December.

“My Mom was an amazing woman who wanted me to continue fighting for the issues I care about. However, after consulting with my friends and family, I have decided to suspend my campaign,” said Silverstein.

Although he will no longer be running, Silverstein hopes to find a candidate in the race who represents his ideals and could work together with him to put “this city back on the right path.”

Silverstein, who is a Democratic State Committeeman and the director of public affairs for America Works Of New York, Inc., was facing off against  former vice president of public affairs for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Empire State Development Austin Shafran, former assemblymember John Duane, community activist and urban planning consultant Paul Graziano and attorney Paul Vallone, who is the son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

“This campaign might be ending, but I am not going away. I will continue to advocate for the issues that are important to me. I will continue my work as a civic leader, activist, and a Democratic State Committeeman,” Silverstein also said in his statement.   “Improving our schools, putting New Yorkers back to work, advocating for our City’s veterans, fighting for tax equity for Co-Op and Condo Owners and preserving our quality of life are the issues that made me want to run for City Council from the very beginning.”

 

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Endorsements rolling in for city candidates


| editorial@queenscourier.com


The following candidates have received backings . . .

New York City Mayor

Former Councilmember Sal Albanese was endorsed by the Transport Workers Union Local 101 in the Democratic mayoral primary, while his opponent City Council Speaker Christine Quinn landed support from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

New York City Comptroller

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer gained the backing of Teamsters Joint Council 16.

City Council District 19

Republican incumbent Dan Halloran bagged an endorsement from the NYPD Captains Endowment Association. Austin Shafran, one of four candidates in the race’s Democratic primary, rolled out boosts from UFCW Local 1500.

City Council District 22

Costa Constantinides got a leg up from Communications Workers of America Local 1180.

 

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