Tag Archives: Munir Avery

State Senator Malcolm Smith seeking re-election despite corruption charges

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

State Senator Malcolm Smith is running for re-election and fighting to keep his seat from current challengers Clyde Vanel and Munir Avery.

While Smith is “focusing on governing,” Vanel has jump-started his campaign with a $100,000 loan to provide the “infrastructure of the campaign.”

“We wanted to start off strong,” he said.

He is seeking to maintain his campaign office and purchase voter information software, among other things.

Vanel, who previously ran for City Council, said the senate district is “much bigger” and “we need resources to start the campaign the right way.”

He hopes to raise $350,000 as election season continues. With the $350,000, he will pay back the loan and spend $250,000 on his campaign.

Regarding his own race, the incumbent Smith said “the time for campaigning is later.” Despite an indictment on corruption charges, to which Smith plead not guilty, he hopes to reclaim the seat he has held for 13 years.

“I don’t think there was ever any doubt the senator would run,” said a spokesperson for the embattled legislator.

Vanel, a Cambria Heights business attorney, and Avery, a Queens Village estates attorney, both criticized Smith for his involvement with the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of Democrats who govern with Republicans.

However, after Smith’s indictment in April, the IDC dropped him.

“The senator is a Democrat and he will be running as a Democrat,” the spokesperson said, but added he “is no stranger to crossing party lines in order to work with everyone.”

Smith is “focused on the budget and making sure southeast Queens receives the adequate share of resources for schools and jobs creation,” he said in a statement.



Clyde Vanel latest to enter race for Malcolm Smith’s Senate seat

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

The race for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat is widening with new contender Clyde Vanel.

Vanel joins attorney Munir Avery to try and snag the Senate seat from Smith, who was arrested last April for corruption charges.

“We have zero representation right now in the Senate,” Vanel said of the 14th Senate District, which comprises of southeast Queens neighborhoods, including Jamaica, Queens Village, Hollis and Cambria Heights.

Vanel, a Cambria Heights native, wants to focus on bringing jobs back to the district and straightening out “Albany’s dysfunction.”

“We need to bring more jobs to our state and economic policy,” he said. “I have owned and run businesses before. I’ve had employees. I’m a business attorney, so I understand the policies and regulations that make it difficult for people to keep small businesses in New York.”

Vanel most recently ran to replace the term-limited Councilmember Leroy Comrie, but fell short by two percent of the votes to current Councilmember Daneek Miller in September’s primary.

Since then, the attorney said he has “been trying to get back on my feet” and expand support in the district for this upcoming election.

If elected, he said he would “be loyal to the Democratic Party,” criticizing Smith for associating with the Independent Democratic Conference, a bipartisan legislative branch. He also hopes to find alternative ways to bringing in revenue outside of raising taxes.

“We have to be more creative with respect to how do we generate revenue from the government, and how do we do more with less,” he said.

He added he will soon be releasing a plan of ideas on how to do so.

“I’m the best person that is currently in the race now,” he said. “The thing is, I’m not running against Malcom Smith, I’m running for the seat. The plan of attack is to just stand on the issues.”



Attorney Munir Avery to run for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Munir Avery

Munir Avery announced he will be the first challenger for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat in the 2014 election.

“I was born and raised in Queens Village, and I want to continue to serve my community. I want to bring the services to my community,” said the attorney.

Smith, who was indicted in April for allegedly trying to bribe his way onto the Republican ticket for mayor, has not publicly decided whether to run again.

Reps for the 13-year Democratic incumbent said he is not going to comment on his challenger.

In the State Senate, Smith caucused with a group of Democrats that govern with Republicans, said Avery.

“Because of that, the Democrats don’t have their chairmanship [in Albany],” he said.

If elected, Avery plans to caucus with the Democrats in order to work and fight for the party’s agenda.

“It’s cleaning up the system,” he said. “That would be the reason I felt the need to run against [Smith].”

Although this is Avery’s first run at office, he is no stranger to politics. He currently is counsel to Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz, and previously worked for the Queens district attorney’s office and on City Council campaigns.

Avery hopes to address various issues surrounding schools, including funding a universal pre-kindergarten, nurturing scholar athletes, and implementing art and after-school programs.

“When I went to public school, we were able to have art, gym,” he said. “I want to see that back in the schools and I’m going to fight for that.”

He also wants to promote open government in Albany and “try to get the big money out,” of which he said Smith has failed to do.