Tag Archives: election

Gov. Cuomo to visit Wyckoff Heights Medical Center Saturday


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Governor Cuomo's Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be stopping by Wyckoff Heights Medical Center on Saturday as part of a Whistle-Stop Rally Tour alongside Gov. Alejandro Garcia-Padilla of Puerto Rico.

Cuomo, who is up for re-election on Tuesday, is expected at the hospital near the Brooklyn-Queens border at 3:30 p.m. together with healthcare workers from the 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East union.

As part of his campaign Cuomo plans to continue protecting access to quality healthcare.

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Primary Day 2014 coverage


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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Check back here for The Queens Courier’s Primary Day coverage from the casting of ballots to the election results.

12:03 a.m. 

The District 11 race has been called: Incumbent state Sen. Tony Avella defeats John Liu.

11:05 p.m.

Leroy Comrie has been declared the winner in the State Senate District 14 race, defeating incumbent Malcolm Smith at 70.9% with 81.7% of the precincts reporting.

10:55 p.m.

Incumbent Toby Stavisky wins her race in State Senate District 16.

10:35 p.m.

Incumbents state Sen. James Sanders and Assemblywoman Margaret Markey have been declared winners in their races.

10:22 p.m.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been declared the winner in the Democratic primary, Kathy Hochul in the lieutenant governor race: AP

9:00 p.m.

Polls are now closed.

6:16 p.m.

Leroy Comrie: “Honored to have Mayor @BilldeBlasio here in the 14th Senate District to help #gotv for our final push!”

Photo via Twitter/@Leroycomrie

Photo via Twitter/@Leroycomrie

5:06 p.m. “Speaking to voters in Briarwood with Assemblyman @DavidWeprin and @ElizCrowleyNYC”: 14th District State Senate candidate Leroy Comrie

Photo via Twitter/@Leroycomrie

3:18 p.m. State Senate candidate John Liu admonishes a Queens resident for wearing a Yankees shirt: “We’ll get you a Mets shirt.” 

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THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

3:11 p.m. The Queens Courier found this John Liu  taxi getting the word out during Primary Day.

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

3:01 p.m. State Sen. Avella’s crew lays a stake at P.S. 191.

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THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

2:37 p.m.  11th District State Senate candidate John Liu talks to a parent at P.S. 191, who told him to do something instead of just making promises.

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

2:26 p.m. “Happy to do my civic duty this Primary Day. #nycvotes,” Toby Ann Stavisky tweeted.

Photo via Twitter/@tobystavisky

Photo via Twitter/@tobystavisky

1:52 p.m. State Sen. Tony Avella talks to a constituent near the voting site at P.S 169. The polling place has recorded 400 votes since 6 a.m.

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

12:08 p.m. State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, who is up for re-election: “All smiles on Primary Day with @AndrewHevesi @CMKoslowitz”

Photo via Twitter/@tobystavisky

Photo via Twitter/@tobystavisky

11:30 a.m. John Liu votes this morning, hoping to defeat incumbent state Sen. Tony Avella. “Running and voting as a proud #truedemocrat, joined by @MelindaKatz on #PrimaryDay”

Photo via Twitter/@LiuNewYork

Photo via Twitter/@LiuNewYork

10:44 a.m. 30th District Assembly candidate Dmytro Fedkowskyj: “So proud of my daughter, Deanna, who is voting for the 1st time today. Let’s vote for change! #PrimaryDay #AD30″

Photo via Twitter/@FedkowskyjForNY

Photo via Twitter/@FedkowskyjForNY

10:22 a.m. State Sen. Tony Avella’s crew passes around fliers in Bayside just off of Bell Boulevard. 

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THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

10:04 a.m. “Our support has been incredibly positive and when the polls close, we are confident that our campaign will be victorious, ” Tony Avella said in a statement after the incumbent state Senator voted this morning. “Voters understand that this race boils down to which candidate they trust to uphold this office with honor and integrity, and John Liu doesn’t pass the laugh test on either account.”

Photo courtesy of Tony Avella

Photo courtesy of Tony Avella

9:38 a.m. Leroy Comrie casts his vote. “I just voted! Thanks @TishJames for joining me! #gotv”

Photo via Twitter/@Leroycomrie

Photo via Twitter/@Leroycomrie

9:10 a.m. Public Advocate Letitia James joins 14th District State Senate candidate Leroy Comrie in Queens.

Photo via Facebook/Leroy Comrie

Photo via Facebook/Leroy Comrie

7:48 a.m.

11th District State Senate candidate John Liu greets voters at the LIRR Bayside station.

“Greeting morning commuters bright and early with @edbraunstein reminding people to vote.”

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Photo via Twitter/@LiuNewYork

 

 6:00 a.m.

Polls are open and will close at 9 p.m. You can find your poll site location at http://nyc.pollsitelocator.com or by calling the voter Phone Bank at 1-866-VOTE-NYC.

Here are the list of Queens candidates in the Democratic primary for state Senate and Assembly, as well as the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor:

State Senator (10th District)
Everly Brown
Gian Jones
James Sanders Jr. *

State Senator (11th District)
Tony Avella*
John Liu

State Senator (14th District)
Munir Avery
Leroy Comrie
Malcolm Smith*

State Senator (16th District)
S.J. Jung
Toby Ann Stavisky*

Assembly (30th District)
Dmytro Fedkowskyj
Margaret Markey*

Governor
Andrew Cuomo*
Randy Credico
Zephyr Teachout

Lieutenant Governor
Kathy Hochul
Timothy Wu

Incumbent = *

Community Board 11 elects Christine Haider as new chair


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Community Board 11 ushered in a new era with a swift election Monday night.

The board bid farewell to its longtime leader, Jerry Iannece, and unanimously voted in Christine Haider to take his place as chair.

“She’s going to be great,” Iannece said. “She’s a hardworking, diligent, responsible person, who has always had the best interest of the community at heart.”

Haider, a board member since 1991, was Iannece’s right-hand woman for the last five years, serving as first vice chair. She also chaired the board’s crucial East Flushing/North Bayside Zoning Committee.

“I’m delighted that I’ve been picked as chair,” Haider said, “and I will do my best.”

Iannece, who is term-limited due to the board’s bylaws, was first appointed board chair in 2002. He stepped down in 2007 due to term limits and took back the board’s helm in 2009.

Board members praised Iannece’s leadership at his final meeting on March 3.

Councilmembers Paul Vallone, Peter Koo and Mark Weprin also gave him a proclamation for his “labor of love” and countless years as a volunteer civic leader.

“He can be proud and know that his legacy of service will continue to fortify the lives of countless Queens residents for generations ahead,” the proclamation says. “He has truly distinguished himself in all of his endeavors and he has earned the enduring gratitude of all New Yorkers.”

While there are “big shoes to fill,” District Manager Susan Seinfeld has no doubt Haider will rise to the challenge during the next five years.

“It will be different, but she is a great woman,” Seinfeld said. “She’s very competent, knowledgeable and involved with the community.”

Board members also elected Laura James as first vice chair, Ocelia Claro as second vice chair and Eileen Miller as third vice chair.

The board covers Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Hollis Hills and Oakland Gardens.

“I think we’re going to work really well together,” Seinfeld said.

 

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John Messer ‘seriously considering’ another State Senate run


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

John Messer is mulling over another State Senate run, he told The Courier.

“I am dedicated to this community, which is why I have been driven towards public service and am seriously considering a run for New York State Senate,” he said.

It would be the Oakland Gardens attorney’s third try at defeating incumbent State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who has held the seat for nearly 15 years.

Most recently, Messer lost a contentious two-way Democratic primary to Stavisky in 2012. 

The heated race was waged principally on negative campaign attacks. Stavisky won 58 percent of the vote.

But Messer said he has not lost momentum since then.

“I believe now, more than ever, that this is a community I want to represent,” said the 43-year-old small business owner. “If anything, it’s a stronger feeling.”

“There are things you to look at before you decide to run — finances, family,” Messer said. “We’ll make a decision soon.”

Mike Murphy, a Senate Democratic spokesperson, said Stavisky has been a “vocal ally” for middle class families and recalled Messer’s previous losses.

“She enjoys wide support from all corners of her diverse district and has now defeated Mr. Messer twice despite the fact that he has spent over $1 million,” Murphy said. “The voters of the district see Mr. Messer for what he is — a Republican surrogate.”

The district encompasses parts of Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Bayside, Oakland Gardens, Rego Park, Elmhurst, Forest Hills and Jackson Heights.

 

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Community Board 11 to lose longtime leader, elect new chair


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Community Board 11 will lose a longtime leader and elect a new chair next month.

The Queens board will bid farewell to Jerry Iannece, who is term-limited due to the board’s bylaws. An election to replace him will take place March 3.

“It was an awesome ride,” said Iannece, whose term ends March 31. “It was exciting, exhilarating. It’s been a labor of love in many ways.”

Iannece was first appointed as board chair in 2002, stepping down in 2007 due to term limits. He returned to take back the board’s helm in 2009.

Under his leadership, Community Board 11 was at the forefront of a $125 million ravine improvement project at Oakland Lake. The massive upgrade, which was more than 10 years in the making, fixed a flooding problem in Bayside Hills.

“It saved Oakland Lake, and it saved the ecosystem,” Iannece said. “It’s sort of a textbook case of how a civic can identify a problem, employ their resources and get a problem solved.”

But after a roller coaster, decade-long tenure — and multiple failed bids for political office — the civic leader plans to step down for good.

“It’s an exhausting, full-time job without pay. I think my time as chair of Community Board 11 has come to an end,” said Iannece, who most recently ran for City Council in 2009 and suffered a devastating defeat in his bid for state Assembly in 2012.

“Running for office for a few years took a lot out of me,” the attorney said. “It just wasn’t meant to be, but it’s OK.”

Board members will nominate and then vote in a new chair at the end of the March 3 meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at 46-35 Oceania St. in Bayside.

The board covers Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Hollis Hills and Oakland Gardens.

“I think it’s always good to have fresh blood, to have someone with new ideas,” Iannece said. “We’ll find somebody that’s more than capable of filling my shoes and doing a great job.”

 

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Sen. Malcolm Smith’s lawyer wants federal corruption trial delayed


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

State Senator Malcolm Smith wants his federal corruption trial delayed, as he runs for re-election and awaits a judge’s decision to dismiss some charges, his lawyer said.

He and former Councilmember Dan Halloran will return to court Feb. 28.

The pair and four others were accused last April of conspiring with the city’s Republican Party leaders to allow Smith, a Democrat, to run for mayor as a Republican.

Federal prosecutors said Halloran negotiated payoffs and set up meetings between Smith and the county bosses, allegedly pocketing thousands in the process.

Lawyers for the two say the act is not considered bribery under New York state law.

A judge will soon decide on motions to throw out some of the charges, said Smith’s attorney, Gerald Shargel.

“It’s progressing in the normal course,” Shargel said.

Smith’s lawyer also wants the trial delayed until after this year’s Democratic primary to give the southeast Queens politician a fighting chance at re-election.

The primary is expected to take place in September, while the trial is scheduled to begin in June.

Two challengers, attorneys Clyde Vanel and Munir Avery, have already surfaced to unseat Smith.

“I don’t think that he would otherwise have a fair opportunity to present his position to his constituents,” Shargel said.

The lawyer plans to submit a written request to the court Feb. 7, he said.

Meanwhile, another co-defendant in the massive bribery scandal has pleaded guilty.

Joseph Desmaret, the former Spring Valley deputy mayor, confessed to accepting about $10,500 in cash bribes from an undercover FBI agent, according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

The 56-year-old pleaded guilty Jan. 29 in White Plains federal court and faces up to 40 years in prison. He is slated for sentencing May 22.

Former Bronx Republican chair Joseph “Jay” Savino pleaded guilty in connection to the case last November.

Other co-defendants, former Queens GOP vice chair Vincent Tabone and Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, say they are innocent.

 

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Rory Lancman celebrates landslide City Council victory


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Twitter photo courtesy of Dominic Panakal

Former Assemblymember Rory Lancman is headed to City Hall. 

Lancman, 44, won the open District 24 seat in a landslide victory on November 5. He also swept his opponents during the Democratic primary in September. 

“I’m feeling great,” he said. “It’s very, very gratifying and humbling to not just win but win by such a huge margin.” 

The Fresh Meadows attorney beat out Republican Alexander Blishteyn and third-party candidate Mujib Rahman with 73.7 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election results. 

More than 11,850 votes went to Lancman, early tallies show. Blishteyn took in 3,205 votes and Rahman, who lost his bid for the Democratic nominee, received 1,020 votes, according to preliminary results. 

Lancman will replace term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro in a district that represents parts of northeast and central Queens. 

Lancman was elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006. He pledged not to seek re-election last year while running for Congress — later losing his bid for Capitol Hill in the Democratic primary.

Close race called for incumbent Councilmember Ulrich, Simon not conceding


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Votes were counted down to the bitter end before a winner was declared in City Council District 32, and Republican Councilmember Eric Ulrich has reclaimed his seat.

“This race was a real nail biter,” Ulrich said in front of family and friends on election night.

As the results trickled in, Ulrich and his Democratic opponent, Lew Simon, were nearly 50/50 on votes, according to preliminary numbers.

However, both candidates took to the mic and declared victory to their respective crowds.

“It appears that we have won,” Simon said in Rockaway.

Meanwhile, in Howard Beach, Ulrich assured his constituents that he had “the most up-to-date information” and that he had a “very strong lead.”

“Many of you have been with me since the beginning, and this is not going to end,” said the incumbent.

When Ulrich caught wind that Simon too had called the race in his own favor, he responded, “Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”

However, Simon’s camp came back and accused Ulrich of adapting the ways of the Tea Party where “losing is winning and less is more.”

Simon and his team are still “status quo,” said Doug Forand, spokesperson for Simon. The group plans to wait until all paper ballots are counted and will respond to those results.

“We defied expectations. Few people thought it would be such a tight race. And the race isn’t over yet. We want to make sure every single vote is properly counted,” Simon said. “I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of support across this district, including from many Republican voters who clearly want a change in leadership.”

According to unofficial results, Ulrich came out on top with 53 percent of the vote and was declared the winner by both the New York Times and the Associated Press.

“I was re-elected by my constituents, and I have a lot of work to do,” said Ulrich, now the only Republican in the Council’s Queens delegation.

He said he will work with the newly elected administration in a bipartisan way, and looks forward to finding out what role he can play in the City Council after a new Speaker is elected.

Regarding any potential role as a Minority Leader in the City Council, Ulrich said it’s “too premature to be talking about leadership roles,” and his time in office still comes second to current Minority Leader James Oddo of Staten Island.

Regardless, during his next term, Ulrich also hopes to revamp the Republican “brand” and work to restore the public’s faith in his party line.

As Ulrich wound down his victory speech, he raised his hands one last time.

“Go to bed tonight and know we kicked Lew Simon’s ass. Let’s have a drink.”

Melinda Katz wins election to become next Queens borough president


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Former legislator Melinda Katz will be the next Queens borough president.

“We sent a message from the moment I announced my candidacy that we are a borough of diversity, and that is an asset,” Katz said. “It is not a flaw in the borough of Queens and the City of New York.”

The Democrat and heavy favorite in the race trounced her two challengers Tuesday with 80.3 percent, according to unofficial results, as 96 percent of precincts were reporting.

Republican Tony Arcabascio netted 17.1 percent and third-party candidate Everly Brown, who came in last in the Democratic primary, took in 2.6 percent on the Jobs & Education line, early tallies showed.

The seat was held by Helen Marshall since 2001. The longtime incumbent and borough’s first black president is term-limited this year.

She endorsed Katz, who served in the Assembly and City Council and was the director of community boards for former Borough President Claire Schulman.

Katz will be the 19th Queens borough president.

“Every borough president has their own way about them,” Katz said. “I’m excited about the future. Helen Marshall has served this borough for over 30 years as a public official, 20 years before that as a civil rights advocate and an educator. I will continue her work, but I also have my own priorities and I look forward to working for those.”

As results trickled in on election night, the Forest Hills mom of two was surrounded by supporters at her victory party held at the Queens Democratic Party’s headquarters on Austin Street.

“We have had a whole gamut of support,” she said, attributing her victory in major part to the County organization. “I am extremely excited to be the next borough president. I’m glad the people of Queens put faith into my candidacy, and I will be very grateful to them.”

The strong finish was anticipated this time, unlike the grueling September primary election Katz faced against Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

In the contentious race, Katz ended up beating the longtime Astoria lawmaker by about 13,000 votes, according to official Board of Elections results.

Katz said her Borough Hall plans include making the Rockaway ferry permanent and creating a hotline for storm victims to get up-to-date information on the rebuilding process.

She also said she will push for more primary and urgent care facilities, expand tax incentives for new or expanding businesses that hire locally and fund the growth of 1,000 more trees.

Katz said it her job to “make sure that we not only get equal assets here in Queens, but we bring more money back to the borough of Queens because that is what we deserve here.”

With additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

Paul Vallone wins race for Halloran’s seat, continues Vallone legacy


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The 40-year Vallone legacy will live on in City Hall.

Paul Vallone, 46, will carry his family’s name in the City Council for the next four years after winning election Tuesday to lead District 19 in northeast Queens.

Vallone beat Republican Dennis Saffran with 57.2 percent of the vote, as of midnight with all precincts reporting, according to preliminary results.

“[This] was a five-year journey that finished today,” Vallone said. “The good guys did it today.”

The two were vying to replace scandal-scarred incumbent Dan Halloran, who chose not to seek re-election after his April arrest on bribery charges.

“They attacked. They lied. They lost,” Vallone said of his opponent’s campaign. “Those who lie don’t get a seat in this community anymore.”

Vallone emerged in September as the winner of a crowded Democratic primary race that came down to the wire.

He beat runner-up candidate Austin Shafran by nearly 200 votes after voting machines were checked and paper ballots were counted.

One of Vallone’s primary foes, Paul Graziano, later crossed party lines to endorse Saffran.

Halloran, a Republican, did the same — but to cast his vote for Vallone, he announced on his Facebook page on Election Day.

“Voting today — for the first time in my life voting for a democratic city council candidate and candidate for public advocate,” Halloran wrote on his post, which was accompanied with a photo of Vallone’s campaign flyers.

He later congratulated Vallone with a Facebook post that said, “The Vallone family’s tradition of public service continues and I am sure Paul will work diligently for us.”

Vallone, a Flushing attorney, is the son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother to Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

Vallone Sr. represented Astoria from 1974 until 2002 when his oldest son succeeded him. Vallone Jr. is term-limited out of office this year.

“I think it’s very, very important that we have one good, moderate voice in the City Council that can bring both sides together, resulting in a safer city,” said Vallone Sr. “That’s the way I tried to start it in 1974, and we have to do that again. If anybody can do it, it’s Paul Vallone.”

Vallone Jr. shared the same sentiment, saying a “reasonable voice in City Hall is needed more than ever.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of my little brother,” Vallone Jr. said. 

This will be the first time in four decades a Vallone will represent northeast Queens instead of Astoria.

The district runs from College Point to Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston and Little Neck. 

The area’s elected officials, the Queens Democratic Party and civic leaders who endorsed him welcomed the change.   

“We’ve restored some sanity to the 19th District,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “The residents can now hold their heads high and be proud.”                                                   

Paul Vallone claims victory in contentious District 19 race


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Attorney Paul Vallone declared he came out on top in a contentious Democratic primary race to replace scandal-scarred Councilmember Dan Halloran.

Vallone defeated his four opponents by taking about 31 percent of the vote on September 10, according to unofficial results.

With nearly 99 percent of precincts reporting, Vallone won 2,723 votes, while runner-up candidate Austin Shafran received 2,579 votes, according to unofficial tallies.

“There’s so much that goes through your mind on a day like today,” said Vallone, 46. “You prepare all your life for this. Its times like this I want to start tearing up, but my wife said, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it.’ But you can’t help but to be inspired.”

Shafran, who trails by about 140 votes, said he was not conceding.

“Voting rights are sacred and we will use every legal remedy that’s available to ensure that the votes of every member of our community are fairly and fully counted,” he said.

The field that included Chrissy Voskerichian, Paul Graziano and John Duane was crowded long before the district’s Republican incumbent was arrested in April on corruption charges that rocked the district and stunned the city.

Only two candidates — Dennis Saffran, the race’s sole Republican candidate, and Voskerichian, who quit her job as Halloran’s chief of staff — threw their hats in the ring after the lawmaker’s indictment.

The race grew contentious in the last few weeks of the campaign when three of the candidates were targeted in mailers paid for by Jobs for New York, a political action committee that endorsed Vallone.

Austin Finan, a spokesperson for Vallone’s campaign, said candidates, by law, have no control over outside spending. PACs can spend as much money as they want on behalf of candidates but cannot coordinate with them.

The fuming candidates still tied the attacks to Vallone, calling the hit pieces “one of the worst mudslinging campaigns” the district has ever seen.

They then each grilled Vallone publicly during a televised debate and called on him to denounce the smear campaign pieces.

Vallone, the Queens Democratic Party pick, was also slammed by his opponents in forums before that for being a registered lobbyist.

At his victory party in Bayside, he said his message about keeping a positive campaign never changed.

“It was never about being negative, and there are a lot of candidates that did that, but that’s their choice to do that,” Vallone said. “The people that came out today said, ‘Paul, we know you. You’re a man of honor, you’re a family man.’”

Halloran, one of only two Republican councilmembers in Queens, pleaded not guilty to bribing GOP officials to get Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith on the Republican mayoral ticket.

He said in May he would not seek re-election to focus clearing his name.

Vallone will face off with Saffran in the November general election.

Additional reporting by Liam La Guerre

Rory Lancman wins landslide victory in District 24


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Twitter

Former Assemblymember Rory Lancman swept his Democratic primary race Tuesday and moved one step further to winning an open City Council seat.

Lancman, 44, won the District 24 Democratic primary in a landslide victory on September 10.

The Fresh Meadows attorney beat out his opponents, Andrea Veras and Mujib Rahman, with nearly 62 percent of votes, according to unofficial election results.

“It’s very satisfying that so many people who I represented when I was in the State Assembly thought I did a good enough job there to give me the chance to serve them in the City Council at a time when all of New York City government is turning over,” Lancman said.

He will face off with Republican candidate Alex Blishteyn, who is also a Fresh Meadows attorney, in the November general election.

The winner will represent parts of central Queens in City Hall. The seat is being vacated by term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro.

Lancman was elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006. He pledged not to seek re-election last year while running for Congress — later losing his bid for Capitol Hill in the Democratic primary.

Council District 24 contender Alex Blishteyn is the ‘citizen candidate’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Alex Blishteyn

A Fresh Meadows attorney wants to breathe life back into stunted small businesses in his district.

Alex Blishteyn, a Republican candidate for City Council, said he has seen too many shops close their shutters in the 23 years he has lived in District 24.

“I remember that area when small businesses were flourishing,” he said. “You could walk up Kissena Boulevard and people would be going in and out of stores.”

Now, Blishteyn said, local stores are being “overregulated and overburdened” with city taxes and regulations.

“They’re not being allowed to operate,” he said. “That’s why we’re seeing a lot of them shut down. They’re being nickel-and-dimed to death.”

The first-time candidate has raised about $16,000 so far in his bid to replace Councilmember James Gennaro, who is stepping down after reaching his term limit. District 24 stretches from Fresh Meadows to Jamaica.

“I think that the community is not well represented,” said Blishteyn, 35. “We need a voice for the people who actually live in that area, one who actually represents the residents of the area. I haven’t found that to be the case.”

Blishteyn, who calls himself the “citizen candidate,” said education is at the top of his agenda. He added that instituting a voucher program and tax credits for private school tuition would give parents more school choices for their children.

“I’ve never been a political activist,” Blishteyn said. “I’m the regular guy who really has had enough with what’s happening with our city.”

Blishteyn is supported by past and present GOP lawmakers including Councilmember Eric Ulrich and former Congressmember Bob Turner.

Other candidates in the District 24 race include former Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who leads in fundraising, Andrea Veras and Mujib Rahman.

 

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Former City Council candidate Kevin Kim won’t run for office this year


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Former City Council candidate Kevin Kim announced he would not run for any office this year.

The Democrat had mulled a run in the 19th District to replace Republican incumbent Councilmember Dan Halloran, who is not seeking re-election while he fights federal corruption charges.

Kim lost a 2009 election to Halloran.

“After serious consideration, I have decided not to run for City Council this year,” Kim said in a statement. “Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the outpouring of support I received from so many people in the community.”

Political insiders said Kim, who grew up in Bay Terrace, was also eyeing a try for Borough President. But he shot down rumors to The Courier, saying that is not his intention.

“I will not be running for any office this year,” he said, “but will continue to be active in advocating for causes that are important to the community as a whole.”

 

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Flushing Democrat Paul Graziano officially starts District 19 campaign


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Paul Graziano

A Flushing urban planner officially joined District 19’s City Council race while another candidate bowed out.

Democrat Paul Graziano kicked off his campaign on March 25 at Bowne Park to unseat Republican incumbent Councilmember Dan Halloran.

“My campaign is very simple. Protect your neighborhood. Do no harm,” said Graziano, a lifelong North Flushing resident. “It’s hard for me to think about theoretical and esoteric problems when we’ve got problems at hand in the community.”

The 41-year-old community activist was surrounded by family, friends and dozens of civic leaders Sunday when he announced his plans to preserve the neighborhood from overdevelopment, protect city parkland and ensure a better education system citywide.

Graziano also called for a “reconstituted” Board of Education with more borough subdivisions. He said the move would allow local school districts to operate independently and give communities a voice in the city’s decision-making process.

“It’s really important to make sure that we have an agenda that focuses on the needs of this community as well as, really, things that are crossing the entire city in importance,” Graziano said. “When we’re in a situation where I think every neighborhood feels embattled by the kinds of things that are happening, we have to stand up and do something about it.”

The Council hopeful faces a Democratic primary with former Assemblymember John Duane, Austin Shafran — the former vice president of public affairs for Empire State Development under Governor Andrew Cuomo — and attorney Paul Vallone, who is the son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

Democratic State Committeeman Matthew Silverstein dropped out of the race Sunday, citing “one of the most difficult years” of his life after his mother passed away last 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,” Silverstein said. “This campaign might be ending, but I am not going away. I will continue to advocate for the issues that are important to me.”

Silverstein had long set his sights on the seat, registering his campaign committee last May.

The Democratic primary winner will square off in November with Halloran, who was elected to the Council in 2009.

 

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