Tag Archives: James Gennaro

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.

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.

Flushing millionaire Isaac Sasson drops out of 24th City Council District race


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A lottery millionaire from Flushing has scratched himself off the City Council ticket.

Isaac Sasson, 72, has dropped his bid for the 24th District and will instead “focus his efforts on his philanthropy and his related positions in the Orthodox Jewish community,” his campaign said in a statement.

The Democrat announced in January he would gamble to replace outgoing Councilmember James Gennaro in the district that stretches from Fresh Meadows to Jamaica.

Sasson, a former organic chemistry professor at Queens College and retired cancer researcher, won a $13 million lottery jackpot in 2007. But his luck turned in 2009 when he lost his first bid for City Council and then again in 2010 for State Senate.

He is not the first to drop out of the District 24 race. Democratic District Leader Martha Taylor terminated her campaign in February due to health concerns.

The race’s front-runner, former Assemblymember Rory Lancman, was endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party and most recently by former Councilmember Morton Povman, who used to represent the district.

According to the city’s Campaign Finance Board, other candidates Alexander Blishteyn, Andrea Veras and Mujib Rahman have filed funds for the district race as of last month.

 

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Flushing millionaire making bid for City Council seat


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Isaac Sasson

A lottery millionaire from Flushing has thrown his hat in the ring to fill a vacant City Council seat in northeast Queens.

Isaac Sasson, 72, said he is running to replace outgoing Councilmember James Gennaro in the 24th District, which stretches from Fresh Meadows to Jamaica.

“I’ve been involved in the community for quite some time now. I’d like to do more. I feel very strongly about serving the people,” said Sasson, a former organic chemistry professor at Queens College and retired cancer researcher.

Sasson, who was born in Syria and raised in Lebanon, is no stranger to running for public office. The Democratic hopeful ran unsuccessfully for State Senate in 2010 and City Council in the 20th District in 2009.

His scientific background, he said, sets him apart from the pack of contenders who have already declared their intent to run, including lawyer Martha Taylor, 72, from Jamaica Estates, and attorney and former Assemblymember Rory Lancman from Fresh Meadows.

“I’m not the typical politician with a lawyer background,” Sasson said. “I’m a person with integrity.”
Since winning a $13 million lottery jackpot in 2007, Sasson said he has doled out nearly $250,000 to civic organizations, temples, churches, veterans and ethnic societies in Queens. An army veteran, he is president of the Holly Civic Association.

The philanthropist may have to dig deep into his pockets to match Lancman, who has already raked in $85,339 in campaign contributions during a six-month period, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB).

Lancman collected funds from 29 unions, his camp said, including the United Federation of Teachers, Hotel Trades Council, UFCW Local 1500 and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association – groups that did not back him during his recent failed bid for Congress.

Taylor, the Democratic district leader in the 24th Assembly District, has filed $55,310, according to the CFB.
Andrea Veras of Briarwood is also reportedly running for the seat. She could not be reached in time for comment. Filing reports for her and Sasson were unavailable as of press time.

What City Council members wish for their constituents in 2013


| editorial@queenscourier.com

2013

The Queens Courier asked the City Council what they wish for their constituents in 2013. Here are some of the responses:

Speaker Christine Quinn: To help New Yorkers still reeling from Sandy recover fully and quickly, & rebuild New York City to protect New Yorkers from the impact of climate change.

Daniel Dromm: To see comprehensive immigration reform including the Uniting American Families Act (for families headed by same sex couples) and the Dream Act passed by Congress in 2013.

Mark Weprin: My New Year’s wish for my constituents is that a bipartisan spirit will appear in Washington, leading to fiscal sanity and sensible gun laws.

James Gennaro: They should have good health, the comfort and peace of a strong faith, abiding happiness, freedom from want and love and compassion for others.

Jimmy Van Bramer: I wish for my constituents a healthy and happy year full of joy and with far fewer tragedies. I want more understanding and appreciation of our uniqueness as people, a safer world at home and abroad.

Peter Vallone Jr.: I hope for the Queensboro Bridge back, and I hope other boroughs keep their hands off of our stuff.

Eric Ulrich: Health, happiness, and prosperity in the new year and a return to normalcy for those affected by Sandy.

Karen Koslowitz: I wish all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I am hoping that the year 2013 brings new opportunities, friendships and successes for all.

Dan Halloran: I wish my constituents a New Year full of peace, prosperity and a renewed sense of pride in our neighborhoods, as we continue to preserve our community’s character.

Leroy Comrie: I hope that we have a healthy, happy, prosperous, and protective new year. Also that people stay charitable, that we can continue to look out for each other and be supportive of those in need.

 

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Brinckerhoff Cemetery granted landmark status by City Council


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission

The landmark status of a historic Colonial-era burial ground in Fresh Meadows has been approved by the City Council.

The council voted overwhelmingly to accept Brinckerhoff Cemetery’s landmark designation on December 10 after the 18th century site was approved for official landmark status by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in August.

“With the landmarking of the Brinckerhoff cemetery, an irreplaceable part of Queens’ history will be preserved in perpetuity,” said Councilmember James Gennaro. “The countless hours that I and many others dedicated to this landmarking have been a wonderful investment that will yield historic and educational dividends for the people of Queens for generations to come.”

Local leaders and preservationists in the neighborhood fought through endless legal wrangling for more than a decade to save the 182nd Street site, Gennaro said.

The vote preserves and protects the final resting place for roughly 80 of the borough’s earliest and most prominent settlers from development.

“Queens is rich with historical treasures dating back to the Dutch era, from the Flushing Remonstrance and the Bowne House to Brinckerhoff Cemetery,” said Councilmember Dan Halloran. “It’s important to preserve the historical legacy of the borough.”

The next step, Gennaro said, is to find a nonprofit group capable of purchasing and maintaining the property.

According to the LPC, 13 cemeteries in the city have been designated as landmarks, including seven in Queens.

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.

City council concerned over climate changes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember James Gennaro

The City Council unanimously voted last week to pass a bill which would allow a task force to address rising sea levels and a recent increase in high-intensity rain storms throughout the five boroughs.

These long and short term problems stemming from climate change would be tackled by a panel of mayor-appointed climate impact scientists, according to Councilmember James Gennaro, who heads the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee.

“What we’re seeing more of now, more so than sea level rise, is the catastrophic impacts of these very high-intensity and frequent rain storms. We’re getting lots of intense weather events that are associated with the gradual warming of the atmosphere,” Gennaro said. “We’re seeing very intense rain storms on a frequency that we haven’t seen before.”

The task force was first created in 2008, under legislation penned by Gennaro, to help the city plan for wilder storms and higher oceans expected in the coming decades. By dealing with greenhouse gases, Gennaro said the bill first sought to reduce the severity of climate change. But this year’s “landmark” legislation, the councilmember said, is all about trying to adapt to it instead.

“Climate change is happening nonetheless,” he said. “We don’t control the fate of the climate around the world by reducing our own greenhouse gas. We’ll still be getting the effects.”

Gennaro said the panel — made up of private entities and representatives of city, state and federal agencies — would be called upon to bring “all of the best scientists together” to figure out the potential impacts of climate change in the city and develop protective policies around them.

Members of the task force, which will make recommendations no less than once every three years, will also brainstorm on infrastructure remedies, including the use of storm surge barriers, and improvements to the city’s sewer system, to make sure coastal parts of the city do not get flooded.

“Common sense policies,” Gennaro said, like where to develop complex buildings in the city away from future sea level complications, will also be considered by the panel.

“Last month was the hottest ever on record, and it’s only one example of the extreme weather New York City has experienced in recent years,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “If this isn’t a call to action, I don’t know what is. We must act decisively now to address severe climate trends or we’re going to face tougher decisions down the road.”

Potentials eye Vallone’s seat in 2013


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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With Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.’s eyes on a larger prize, two Astoria natives have their sights set on his seat.

Democrat Tony Meloni, the founder and executive director of the New York Anti-Crime Agency, has already announced his intent to run for office in the 22nd Council District in 2013, while Costa Constantinides, who is serving as the deputy chief of staff for Councilmember James Gennaro, is “strongly considering” entering the race – now that Vallone is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.

Vallone says he is seriously mulling over a run for borough president, and that he has already begun raising money and discussing the possibility with officials throughout Queens. The councilmember went on to say he has yet to endorse a candidate to replace him, and will make that decision at a later time.

“I’ve worked with Tony for many years on Astoria issues, especially as they relate to public safety,” Vallone said. “He’s been working in the Astoria neighborhood for decades. I think he’s going to make a very formidable candidate. Costa has not announced, but I’ve been to a few of his fundraisers and said good things about him.”

Meloni plans to run on a platform focused on aiding small businesses, improving air quality and increasing public safety – particularly preventing another rash of gropings and sexual assaults, which have recently plagued Astoria. “Between the New York Anti-Crime Agency, the Immigration Advocacy Services, Community Board 1 and a large number of community organizations, I’ve been involved in the community for 27 years,” said the 56-year-old Meloni. “I wouldn’t be in this if I didn’t think I could win. I think I have a very strong base in our community and neighborhoods. I’ve been fighting for the community for many years, and this position could help me make a bigger difference. I feel I have the pulse of the community, and I know what we need to do in our area to keep it the vibrant and safe community that it is.”

Constantinides, who would also run as a Democrat if he opts to throw his hat in the ring, was previously president of the Queens County Young Democrats and legislative director for Councilmember Darlene Mealy. He is also currently the Democratic leader for 36th Assembly District.

“I’ve been meeting with civic and community leaders, elected officials and union leaders to gauge my support for City Council, and right now I’m getting overwhelming support,” said Constantinides, who claims he has already raised $33,000 through an exploratory campaign committee. “I’m a lifelong Astoria resident, and I love this community. I know what it takes to get things done. I’ve worked in the City Council for almost the last six years. I’ve been Democratic district leader for over three years, and in that time I’ve worked on things like saving the post office on 30th Avenue and making traffic safer for pedestrians on 21st Avenue.”

If he elects to run, Constantinides hopes to improve health care in the area, decrease overcrowding in neighborhood schools and make air quality cleaner.

The 37-year-old believes he could be very successful in the election, but spoke highly of his potential opponent, calling Meloni a “wonderful guy” who he has the “upmost respect for.”

Queens councilmembers score high on environmental report cards


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The scores are in — and Queens councilmembers have fared well above average in their most recent environmental report cards.

According to the New York City League of Conservation Voters’ (NYLCV) annual “Environmental Scorecard,” a record number of 22 out of 50 councilmembers achieved perfect scores. Queens, the runner-up borough, trailed the Manhattan delegation — which scored the highest average of 95 — by two points, while Brooklyn stood firm with 92 points, Staten Island with 88 and the Bronx with 76.

The annual survey examines voting and sponsorship records on 11 bills covering green buildings, transportation, sustainable food, waterfronts, clean energy and more, said officials at the nonprofit organization.

The average score for the city was 90 out of a possible 100 — up significantly from the 68 point average the Council netted last marking period from 2008 to 2009.

The borough’s top scorers included Queens Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley, James Gennaro, Karen Koslowitz, Eric Ulrich, Peter Vallone, Jimmy Van Bramer and Mark Weprin. Each of the seven lawmakers racked up 100 point averages.

“This particular scorecard really shows that just about everybody in the Council has a very good track record on this very important set of issues,” said Gennaro, who serves as chair of Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection. “It sort of energizes us to stay the course and keep pushing on in many environmental issues that we’re currently working on. This scorecard really provided some inspiration to carry on.”

Still, not all numbers were high across the board.

The northernmost borough in the city raked in the top three lowest scores. Bronx representatives Larry Seabrook and Annabel Palma both received 64 points, while Councilmember Helen Foster flunked with 36 points.

Foster did not return calls for comment as of press time.