Tag Archives: Joe Concannon

District 23 candidates debate on affordable housing, services for the elderly


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Potential voters gathered at the Queens High School of Teaching in Bellerose on Monday to watch contenders for the vacant 23rd City Council seat tackle the issues in a debate hosted by the AARP and sponsored by The Queens Tribune and The Queens Press.

Democrats Barry Grodenchik, Bob Friedrich, Rebecca Lynch, Ali Najmi and Celia Dosamantes will be competing in a Sept. 10 primary along with Satnam Singh Parhar, who was absent from the debate. Former NYPD Captain Joe Concannon, the sole Republican candidate in the race, also participated in the forum.

Questions ranged in topics such as candidates’ support for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, the possible extension of mayoral control over city schools, increased services for the elderly and the possibility of additional legal and legislative protection for tenants.

Grodenchik said that he did not think that enough was being done to support the affordable housing already existing through the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

“I am extremely concerned that this administration is really not attacking, in a good enough way, the deterioration of the 200,000 NYCHA units,” Grodenchik said. “Every single one of those is an affordable housing unit.”

Concannon made it clear that he was against affordable housing plans that could result in high-density zoning and oversaturation in a particular area.

“It has to do with service in the area, oversaturation and the destabilization of our police services, our fire services and our sanitation services,” Concannon said.

On the issue of mayoral control over city schools, Lynch said it was an imperfect system that was needed at the time but should be replaced with a long-term solution.

“Mayoral control was a fix needed for a system that was plagued by patronage and the worst bureaucracy,” Lynch said. “That one-year extension was a political high jinks that really does nothing for our teachers, our principals, our school system in terms of being able to plan for the future.”

Friedrich was eager to speak on the issue of how to find an appropriate location for a new school to ease overcrowded classrooms.

“To dump a school in the middle of a street, where residents live, where there is no parking where they’re going to have kids walking up and down, littering and putting garbage is completely inappropriate,” Friedrich said, “and we need to make sure that the local community is always engaged in those conversations, which is not currently being done.”

Dosamantes outlined her stance on the “Close to Home” juvenile justice reform initiative designed to help keep youth close to their home communities.

“When you’re trying to rehabilitate youth offenders, you can’t put them in a community where they’re going to re-engage in a crime,” Dosamantes said. “You have to put them in a place where it’s positive and it’s going to promote them to advance themselves.”

Najmi said that as part of his effort to increase senior services, he would secure greater funding for the city’s paratransit system Access-A-Ride and in-home services such as the Citymeals-on-Wheels program.

“We need to make sure that is a program that’s fully funded. We need to expand it and get more people involved,” Najmi said. “I think there’s a lack of awareness with [Citymeals-on-Wheels]. We need to do a better outreach.”

The candidates are looking to fill the seat that Mark Weprin vacated in June to become Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Concannon in the Nov. 3 general election.

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District 23 candidates speak on co-op taxes, services for the elderly at Queens Courier debate


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Julie Weissman

Potential voters were in the North Shore Towers Cinema on Wednesday to watch contenders for the vacant 23rd City Council seat tackle the issues in a debate sponsored by the North Shore Towers and The Queens Courier.

Democrats Barry Grodenchik, Bob Friedrich and Rebecca Lynch will be competing in a Sept. 10 primary along with Ali Najmi, Celia Dosamantes and Satnam Singh Parhar, who were absent from the debate. Former NYPD Captain Joe Concannon, the sole Republican candidate in the race, also participated in the forum.

Questions ranged in topics such as the possible tax reclassification for co-ops and condos, the regulation of Uber drivers in NYC, increased services for the elderly and the creation of group homes for developmentally disabled persons across Queens.

Concannon made it clear that he aimed to make public safety a priority as his major platform. He took a stand against a bill passed by the City Council in 2013 to increase oversight of the NYPD and expressed support for the continuation of the “stop-and-frisk” initiative openly criticized by Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio. He also spoke out against what he dubbed as the “hug-a-thug” program to eliminate bail for low-level offenders in the city.

“The council has handcuffed and blindfolded our Police Department here across the City of New York, and we only need to look at recent newspapers to have an account of what’s going on,” Concannon said.

On how to better improve senior services, Lynch said that she would have three courses of action. Her top priority in this respect would be to improve affordable housing options.

“If we don’t have people being able to stay in their homes, it doesn’t matter if the services are here,” Lynch said.

Lynch added that accessible transportation is a must for seniors to be able to utilize important services, calling for more reliable bus services and a weekend bus along the Little Neck Parkway route. Seniors also need more funding for existing programs, such as those of the Samuel Field Y and local senior centers, she noted.

As the president of the Glen Oaks Village co-op, Friedrich was eager to speak on the issue of tax reclassification for co-ops and condos as single-family homes. He highlighted his time organizing city hall rallies to fight for lower taxes for co-op owners, and said that the valuation of co-ops should be capped to prevent further tax increases.

“I could tell you what I’m going to do, but I’d rather tell you what I’ve been doing,” Friedrich said. “I’ve been the number one advocate in the City of New York fighting to protect our co-ops.”

Grodenchik was supportive of the creation of group homes in Queens for developmentally disabled people. He made a distinction between these facilities and those used to relocate convicted youth offenders, saying that the former population was among the most vulnerable in the community. He also said that in his 10 years of working in the office of former Borough President Claire Shulman, he has found that community complaints submitted after the installation of these group homes are very rare.

“This is about the most vulnerable people in our society,” Grodenchik said. “How a society is judged is how it takes care of its people who are least fit to take care of themselves.”

The candidates are looking to fill the seat that Mark Weprin vacated in June to become Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs. The district contains all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Concannon in the Nov. 3 general election.


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District 23 City Council seat competitors square off in Bellerose


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Candidates seeking to fill the 23rd Council District seat that Mark Weprin previously held were face to face for the first time Tuesday in a debate hosted by the New American Voters Association (NAVA) at the Bellerose Jewish Center.

Democrats Barry Grodenchik, Celia Dosamantes, Bob Friedrich and Satnam Singh Parhar will be competing in a Sept. 10 primary along with Ali Najmi and Rebecca Lynch, who were absent from the debate. Former NYPD Captain Joe Concannon is the sole Republican candidate in the race.

A previously unannounced candidate, Michael Foubister, also came forward to claim a space in the debate to the surprise of many, including the event’s organizers, who seemed not to know who he was and had not included him in the program.

Although he was allowed to participate in the NAVA debate, Foubister later admitted that he did not have all the signatures needed to petition for the ballot, and The Courier confirmed that he was not listed in Board of Elections records as of July 16, the last day to file for inclusion.

Candidates were asked to speak on a variety of topics, including their legislative agenda, the amount of funding they planned to allocate to public education and charter school alternatives, and their biggest community initiatives in issues close to home.

The candidates were united on many issues, with some even agreeing with positions held by their opponents during their own turn to speak. All five have been involved with rallies against a proposed juvenile detention center planned for a residential street in Queens Village. Most agreed to increasing public school funding, and were against increasing the number of vouchers for charter schools.

Parhar, a businessman who has operated several successful clothing stores and a construction company, said that his legislative priority would be to lower utility bills. He believed that as a self-made businessman he could relate to taxpayers’ increasing worries on the price of living in the city.

“People cannot afford their bills. People cannot afford taxes. People cannot afford sewage and water bills,” Parhar said. “Think about our street lights. Think about our potholes.”

Concannon focused on the effect that public policy has on public safety. The former NYPD member challenged former Councilman Weprin for the District 23 seat in 2013 under the Reform Party line.

“One thing I learned as a cop is, a well-educated child has very little interaction with the police department at all,” Concannon said. “So I believe well-educated kids, well-educated families, and funding libraries is a part of that.”

Bob Friedrich, a well-known civic organizer who is also president of his Glen Oaks co-op, said he wants to fight policies that do not serve the outer-borough needs of District 23 well, such as instituting tolls on free East River crossings and a 10-cent grocery bag surcharge.

“That’s another Manhattan-centric proposal where people go to the local bodega in Manhattan with one shopping bag,” Friedrich said. “In this part of Queens, often we come by car, we do a week’s worth of groceries, and that’s going to add a thousand dollars to your shopping bill every year. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Candidates expressed strong views on a controversial City Council vote that may limit drivers hired by Uber, a mobile phone application that enables users to summon a livery car and intends to add 10,000 new workers this year. Once elected, the winning candidate will take part in the decision, which was just stalled for four months while a study examines the company’s impact on the city’s traffic and environment.

Grodenchik, who has endorsements from major Democratic players such as Mark Weprin and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, supported expanding Uber as a force catering to the economy and transportation needs of northeast Queens, which he felt was often forgotten by City Hall.

“We live here in eastern Queens right on the Nassau border where we’re often forgotten. I will be a person to raise his voice to support economic opportunities for the people in this community,” Grodenchik said. “Uber is a success story and it employs thousands and thousands of people. We need to encourage those success stories.”

Dosamantes, a former deputy chief of staff for Assemblyman Philip Ramos, executive assistant for Rep. Grace Meng and communications director for David Weprin, supports an Uber expansion because it could be developed into a resource within the city to employ able workers. She has previously stated that job creation is a major focus in her campaign.

“What’s most important to our district, what’s most important to our community, is job creation,” said Dosamantes, who added that increasing living costs have caused more and more New Yorkers to struggle when making ends meet. “When you take away any type of job opportunity that gives New Yorkers good paying jobs, that gives New Yorkers the opportunity to have a chance to provide for their families and take care of them, I don’t support the mayor for that.”

Mark Weprin vacated the 23rd District seat in June to become Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs. The district contains all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

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


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jeff Xie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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City Council candidate Joe Concannon calls ‘fraud’ on Campaign Finance Board


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Joe Concannon’s campaign

The retired police captain running a pointed City Council bid against a popular incumbent says the city’s Campaign Finance Board should have accommodated his late entrance into the race.

Joe Concannon, who is taking on Councilmember Mark Weprin in a general election next month, said he was a “victim” of the CFB’s “incompetence and fraud” when his profile did not appear in the board’s widely distributed voter guide.

“I am running for public office to ensure that New York City government is more transparent and to alleviate the corruption, fraud and mismanagement,” said Concannon, who is on the Reform and Independent line. “The CFB seems to have succumbed to all three.”

About 4 million copies of the nonpartisan newsletter were mailed out throughout the city this week, a CFB spokesperson said. The guide contains voting information and detailed profiles submitted by candidates.

CFB spokesperson Matt Sollars said the hopefuls have until early July, at the latest, to submit their profiles, which then go through a timely process of getting translated into five languages in Queens.

“These are reasonable deadlines that are necessary for us to collect and produce a voter guide that is printed and mailed to every registered voter in New York City,” he said.

Concannon did not register with the CFB until September, Sollars said, months after the submission deadline.

But Phil Orenstein, the candidate’s campaign manager, said there should have been an exception, or at least an addendum.

“Accommodations should be made for his independent line candidacy, but nothing of the sort was done,” he said. “To us, this smacks of voter fraud and we hold the CFB culpable. They have failed in their responsibilities to properly inform the voters.”

Concannon leaped into the race August 8 because Weprin voted in support of two controversial police oversight bills in the Community Safety Act.

Concannon said the bills would increase crime and handcuff police, a belief numerous police unions shared when they endorsed him.

The Bellerose candidate unsuccessfully tried to unseat State Senator Tony Avella last year.

 

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