Tag Archives: NY06

After losses, Ulrich, Halloran will seek re-election


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

The borough’s two Republican city legislators will attempt to keep their seats in City Hall next year, after falling short in their contentious bids for higher office.

Councilmembers Eric Ulrich and Dan Halloran said they would seek re-election in their respective City Council districts after last Tuesday’s election dealt them crushing defeats.

“I feel very good. I feel confident. I’m very proud of my work in the City Council, and I have every intention of continuing it,” said Ulrich of Ozone Park. “But my main focus right now is helping the thousands of residents who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. I’ll worry about running for re-election after the new year.”

Ulrich’s $1 million run at unseating incumbent State Senator Joseph Addabbo in the 15th District was unsuccessful, as the 27-year-old rising Republican star lost by roughly 10,000 votes, according to unofficial results by the Board of Elections (BOE).

Halloran was also trounced by his Democratic opponent, Assemblymember Grace Meng, who won the open 6th District Congressional seat in a 2-to-1 landslide.

“I will never stop fighting for the residents in my Council district, and look forward to earning another term as their advocate for sensible government in the City Council,” Halloran said. “Working for the residents of Queens in my district has never been any less than my highest priority and my greatest honor.”

Halloran already faces challenges from a handful of Democratic hopefuls in the 19th Council District, which currently extends from College Point to the borders of Nassau County.

Democratic State Committeeman Matthew Silverstein, former Assemblymember John Duane and attorney Paul Vallone — son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. — are officially running to oust the Republican incumbent.

The candidate ring may also soon feature Community Board 11 chair Jerry Iannece, as well as Austin Shafran, the 31-year-old vice president of public affairs for Empire State Development, who has had his name bandied about.

No candidates from either aisle have yet announced candidacy to replace Ulrich, with elections to take place next November.

Meng, Halloran go head to head in Middle Village


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A state assemblymember criticized for being “too nice” and a city councilmember deemed “too aggressive” dueled in a Middle Village debate last week.

The two candidates running for the open 6th District Congressional seat — Democratic Assemblymember Grace Meng and Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran — detailed their stances on hot-button federal issues and defended themselves against their negative portrayals at a Juniper Park Civic Association forum held on October 18.

The hopefuls butted heads when it came to their clashing opinions on the Affordable Care Act and immigration reform.

While Meng believes the Affordable Care Act is not a “perfect system” — saying it initially led to confusion for small business owners and fear for seniors — she said the federal statute, commonly called Obamacare, is a “great step in a very important direction.”

Halloran disagreed, saying the health care law will stifle small businesses and create “as many problems as it’s going to solve.” He also said health care should be a state issue and not one handled by the federal government.

In regards to immigration reform, the two candidates were unified in saying providing help to legal Americans come first, but they did not share the same views on passing the DREAM Act. Meng supports the bipartisan legislation — which would make qualifying undocumented youths eligible for a path to citizenship if passed — while Halloran firmly said there should be no path to citizenship for anyone who comes to the country illegally.

The hopefuls then had a chance to debunk how they are commonly depicted. Halloran said he may be seen as “too aggressive,” but that forcefulness, he said, is sometimes necessary to get things done.

“Nobody stands up for the county of Queens loudly enough,” he said. “You don’t do that by being quiet.”

Meng, on the other hand — who said she is seen by many as being “too nice” — said that quality should not be underestimated.

“Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness,” she said.

Halloran, Meng polls at odds over 6th District race


| brennison@queenscourier.com

meng halloran

A new poll released by Councilmember Dan Halloran found him and Assemblymember Grace Meng in a virtual tie for the 6th Congressional District seat, though his opponent says a 30 point gap still separates them.

Halloran’s poll, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates found the Republican to be trailing Meng by three points, which is within the poll’s margin of error (5.7 percent).

“The poll confirms that Dan Halloran is on his way to winning this race. Dan won over Democrats in his Council race and he is doing it again in the heart of Queens,” said spokesperson Kevin Ryan. “Voters know that he will fight to create jobs, help small businesses and reduce gas prices.”

Meng’s spokesperson released a statement saying internal polling by the campaign has the assemblymember holding a 51-22 advantage in the district.

“Leave it to Dan Halloran to release a tailor-made poll. This “poll” is nothing more than a desperate attempt on behalf of the Halloran campaign to raise money from its far right, radical Tea Party base of support. Once again, Dan Halloran just makes things up and expects no one to question him,” said Meng spokesperson Austin Finan.

One thing the disparate polls agreed upon was the amount of undecided voters. Halloran’s poll measured the number at 30 percent while Meng’s survey found 27 percent still unsure.

Halloran leads Meng among voters who have heard of both candidates (40-35) and who have an opinion of both (61-33), according to the McLaughlin & Associates poll.

The pollsters concluded that in a district that has voted for Republican in the past including Senator Frank Padavan, Senator Serf Maltese, Rudy Giuliani and Halloran, the councilmember can be victorious.

Further proof given was Mitt Romney’s three point lead over President Barack Obama in the district, according to the poll.

A Siena College survey of the 15th Senate District that includes more conservative portions of the 6th Congressional District found Obama to be leading Romney by three points in early October.

McLaughlin & Associates, a national survey research and strategic services company, currently represents 20 sitting members of Congress all of whom are Republican.

Three hundred voters were surveyed on October 10 and 11 for the poll.

Medicare, money at center of 6th Congressional District mudslinging


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Traditional Medicare could be endangered if the power to decide the fate of the major, federal insurance program falls into the wrong party’s hands, according to a Democratic congressional hopeful.

“Republican plans for Medicare would end guaranteed benefits for our seniors and destroy the traditional Medicare option,” said Assemblymember Grace Meng, who hopes to secure a House seat in November.

The candidate was joined by former Congressmember Liz Holtzman to outline the “stark differences” between the two parties over handling Medicare, during an October 9 press conference outside the Bayside Senior Center.

“Seniors are rightly worried these days about important programs like Medicare being harmed by the misguided policies of the Tea Party Republicans in Washington, D.C.,” said Holtzman, who served in Congress from 1973 to 1981.

Meanwhile, Meng is being taken to task by her Republican rival, Councilmember Dan Halloran, for “ducking” two forums in the last week after having agreed earlier this year to face off with him in a series of five debates. In three out of four candidate nights, Halloran’s camp said the councilmember debated against “an empty chair.”

Halloran said he was “eager to publicly discuss” a recently published New York Post report, which said the councilmember is allegedly being investigated by the Albany district attorney for being over two years behind in filing campaign finance reports for his 2009 City Council run.

According to the Post, Halloran has missed five filing deadlines and owes the state $3,243 in fines and growing interest.

But Halloran’s camp said a State Board of Elections spokesperson was misquoted in the story, having never said the agency was contacted by the district attorney regarding Halloran’s filings.

Halloran had previously condemned Meng for failing to file her personal financial disclosures in May.

Mayor Bloomberg endorses Grace Meng for Congress


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Grace Meng

Assemblymember Grace Meng secured a major boost to her campaign this week, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted her as the “independent voice” in Congress for middle-class families and a “bridge-builder in Albany.”

“New Yorkers demand representation in Washington that puts the needs of the taxpayers ahead of partisan politics,” said Bloomberg, who endorsed the Democrat’s run for the 6th District seat on Monday, October 1.

“Whether it’s her outspoken support for sensible gun legislation to help make our streets safer or her advocacy for common sense immigration reform, Grace embodies the values that Queens residents care about most,” the mayor said.

Meng — who also secured boosts from the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association earlier this month — returned the praises, saying the mayor’s leadership helped make the city and nation stronger.

“Like the mayor, I have made the tough, but necessary choices to deliver for my constituents as an assemblymember — a habit I plan to continue as a member of Congress,” she said.

But Meng’s rival, Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran, disagreed on both counts, arguing the mayor disregarded the will of the voters while depicting Meng as a “go-along Democrat,” whose majority of votes lie in tandem with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in Albany.

“I have vocally fought the mayor‘s social engineering pet projects and spending excesses,” Halloran said, “and despite the mayor’s billions, I will continue to speak truth to power. [Meng] certainly isn’t rocking the boat here in New York, and we can’t expect her to in Congress.”

Halloran’s camp minimalized Meng’s mayoral endorsement by dumping it alongside other “feel good” and often widely unpopular measures Bloomberg championed for this year, including the ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks from certain venues.

The soda ban, bike lanes and the endorsement of Meng top the pile of the mayor’s “bad ideas,” the councilmember’s team said.

“Bloomberg’s latest suggestion for the [city], voting for Grace Meng, is just as detrimental to New Yorkers’ freedom and prosperity as the rest of the mayor’s ill-conceived ideas,” said Halloran’s spokesperson, Kevin Ryan. “Our voters need Meng in Congress like they needed the soda ban.”

Bloomberg — now an independent, but who was a Democrat before seeking elective office, later switching his registration in 2001 and running for mayor as a Republican — gave $1 million to State Senate Republicans last week.

Meng also received the endorsement of former mayor Ed Koch in August, but another former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, is slated to be the special guest at an October 9 fundraiser for Halloran.

Ed Koch endorses Grace Meng for Congress


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Grace Meng

After backing one of her opponents in the primary, former Mayor Ed Koch endorsed Assemblymember Grace Meng for the newly drawn 6th Congressional District.

“Grace Meng is unequivocally the strongest candidate to maintain strong U.S. relations with the State of Israel,” Koch said on the steps of City Hall on Monday, August 13. “Grace has demonstrated a deep understanding of the nature of Israel’s struggle in its corner of the world and why it’s so important for Israeli and American interests and global security that the United States stands in support of her.”

During the lead up to the Democratic primary, Koch endorsed Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who Meng defeated.

“Mayor Koch has long stood as a pillar of strong U.S.-Israeli relations and a champion of middle class families everywhere, which is why I am so honored and thankful to have his endorsement during this critical moment in our nation’s history,” Meng said of the endorsement.

Koch served in Congress for eight years prior to his 12 years as mayor of New York City.

Meng will face off against Councilmember Dan Halloran in the November 6 general election.

 

Meng wins 6th District Congressional primary


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Assemblymember Grace Meng claimed victory by large margins in the hotly-contested 6th District Congressional primary race, according to Associated Press results.

“This is an important victory for Queens,” Meng said during her victory party at Plum Restaurant in Bayside. “This victory is about we. We made this together.”

Meng beat our her three rivals – Assemblymember Rory Lancman, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Bayside allergist Dr. Robert Mittman – by winning 51 percent of the vote, according to AP reports as of 1 a.m. on June 27 when 89 percent of precincts were reporting.

Lancman who was largely seen as Meng’s top competitor — raked in the second highest amount of votes, taking in 28 percent, while Crowley garnered 16 percent and Mittman 5 percent.

“We are celebrating this evening because of you [voters]. We are here for each other and all look out for each other,” Meng said. “Let’s go win this thing in November.”

The candidates each threw their hats in the ring to replace U.S. Congressmember Gary Ackerman after the 15-term elected official announced in March he would not seek re-election this year.

Ackerman threw his support behind Meng on May 29, saying she was “head and shoulders above the rest” in the race. Meng went into the race already backed by the Queens County Democratic Party and gained a huge endorsement at the 11th hour from Governor Andrew Cuomo. She bagged several key endorsements along the way, including a last minute boost from the New York Times.

Lancman, who saw his “almost dream of a lifetime” come to an end, said in his concession speech he would support his Assembly colleague in the general election against Republican runner Councilmember Dan Halloran.

He also praised Crowley, saying she showed “extraordinary personal courage and hard work” in her try for the seat, and thanked his campaign team and supporters.

“What we built here as a campaign — I think starting from scratch and really starting without the infrastructure that comes with the support of the county organization — is something we can be extraordinarily proud of,” he said.

Before his speech, Lancman told a supporter he thinks Mittman may have taken the difference in votes between him and Meng.

The assemblymember, who pledged not to seek re-election for his current seat, did not specify his next plans. However, there are speculations he may seek a City Council or borough president position.

The race to replace him has already begun, with two Democratic and two Republican hopefuls announcing their candidacy.

It was also unclear after her concession whether Crowley intends to seek re-election to her Council seat, but she did confirm she would help get Meng elected.

While Crowley unofficially came in third in the race, she in her speech that her efforts three months ago showed how people choose the candidates, not an organization – alluding to her lack of support from both the County and possibly the party’s chair, who is also her cousin.

“This has been a rollercoaster ride of a campaign, and we really put up a good fight,” she said. “We showed that organized labor still has a voice in New York City.”

Meanwhile, a handful of hopefuls have already been eyeing Meng’s seat, while the assemblymember prepares for the November 6 general election against Halloran and Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou.

“Let’s run this campaign based on issues,” she said to Halloran. “Let’s not discuss race or religion or partake in scare tactics.”

With additional reporting by Alexa Altman and Billy Rennison

Live Coverage: Queens Primary Day at the races


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Alexa Altman

11:40 P.M.

In a released written statement, Bob Turner, who lost tonight’s U.S. Senate Republican primary to Wendy Long said:

“I congratulate Ms. Long on her impressive victory tonight. I want to thank Chairman Cox and all of the Republicans from across the state who supported me in this campaign. I went to Congress last year as a citizen legislator on a clear mission to help save our nation from the harmful big-government policies that are keeping New Yorkers out of work, small businesses shuttered and record levels of debt on the backs of our children. Senator Gillibrand has made a dramatic transformation from her days as a conservative Democrat to now being named the nation’s most liberal senator as a loyal supporter of the Obama-Reid agenda. I remain steadfastly committed to these goals and I pledge to work with Ms. Long to unite all Republicans and Conservatives in the effort to defeat Kirsten Gillibrand in November.”

11:30 P.M. 

Several media sources are also reporting Gregory Meeks the primary winner in District 5, Grace Meng in District 6 and Wendy Long in the  U.S. Senate Republican primary.

 

 

 

 

 

11:05 p.m.

Incumbent Congressmember Nydia Velazquez will continue her run for an 11th term on Capitol Hill, after the New York Times reported the Brooklyn-based representative had won a four-way primary. Velazquez—who is running in the new Congressional District 7— is now running unopposed for the seat, as there is no current Republican candidate.

The new district spans from Chinatown, through Brooklyn and into Woodhaven. Queens residents who were once represented in the soon-to-be defunct District 9 had expressed concern about the redistricting and how they would be represented in such a diverse Congressional area.

10:50 p.m.

Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries defeated Councilmember Charles Barron in the Democratic primary, and will now face Republican Allan Bellone on November 6. In the days and weeks leading up to the election, Jeffries received key endorsements from Senator Charles Schumer, former Mayor Ed Koch, Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder and State Senator Joseph Addabbo. The newly-drawn District 8—though mainly made up of Brooklyn neighborhoods—includes parts of Howard Beach and Ozone Park.

10:25 p.m.

Eddie Boles, treasurer of the Uniformed Fire Officers Union, who campaigned with Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley throughout Queens today, spoke with many undecided voters:

“We emphasized the point that she’s a person that cares about constituents, community.”

“She’s a doer. She provides results.”

While he said he couldn’t know for sure whether Crowley would win, Boles did say “I’m confidant in her ability to be a good congresswoman.”

9 p.m.

Poll are closed. Stay with the Queens Courier for all the results.

6:50 p.m.

Quotes from outside P.S. 173 in Fresh Meadow:

“I’m voting for Crowley because she looks intelligent.  If she wins we will give her a chance to prove to us what she is worth,” Rose Giraldo, 64.

“I don’t really know who is on the ballot, but I’m going to go check it out,” Victor Chan, 36.

6:30 p.m.

Poll monitors at P.S. 173 in Fresh Meadows said 450 voters have been there and the after work crowd is picking up.

5:45 p.m.

According to poll monitors at M.S. 158 in Bayside, 132 have voted between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.

5:30 p.m.

The Courier spotted poll workers at M.S. 158 in Bayside single-handedly taking down Assemblymember Grace Meng’s campaign flyers, which were placed on the gates surrounding the school. It is prohibited to place or wear campaign paraphernalia within 500 feet of polling locations, they said.

Earlier this morning, a poll worker at P.S. 173 in Fresh Meadows told Assemblymember Rory Lancman to take off a campaign sticker he was wearing on his suit that displayed his name when he went to cast his vote.

4:17 p.m.

City & State is reporting that supporters of Assemblymember Rory Lancman and Robert Mittman got into a “heated altercation.”

A man from the Orthodox Jewish anti gay-marriage group Jews For Morality told the site, “I don’t understand why I was attacked by several members of the Lancman campaign. They felt somehow that we were being disingenuous.”

2:30 p.m.

As Congressmember Nydia Velazquez is out at polling stations just hours before polls close, she has been advising that her name is mistranslated in Chinese, DNAinfo has reported.

Velazquez is running in a four-way primary in a newly-drawn district that spans from Chinatown, through Brooklyn and into Woodhaven.

The translation of the 10-term congressmember’s name was in eight characters, DNAinfo reported, which when pronounced did not sound like Velazquez’s name.

Multiple calls to the Board of Elections were not answered.

1:35 p.m.

By 11:30 a.m., 120 voters had cast their ballots at St. Andrew Avellino School in Flushing. While the turnout seemed weak for such a contentious race, those present fervently believed their involvement could make a difference.

“The primary is more important than the general election,” said Moogseog Mah, a 60-year-old Flushing resident. “Without the primary, I can’t choose who I want.”

Claudia Sargent, a 57-year-old Flushing resident, said voting in the primary allotted her a “grassroots approach” to politics.

“The primary is where you really get to make your mark, both literally and figuratively,” said Sargent. “I see good possibilities in two candidates, but I voted my conscience. When you vote in the general election, you are voting for the candidate that the [political] machine has chosen for you.”

1:30 p.m.

Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries, running for the 8th congressional district, walked to P.S. 9 in Brooklyn shortly after 9:45 a.m., with his two sons, Joshua, 8, and Jeremiah, 10, to cast his ballot.

He was completely confident of victory.

“Oh we’re going to win the Democratic primary,” said Jeffries when asked if he doesn’t win the primaries will he still run with another party.

Jeffries said that the early primaries and redistricting presents a challenge, but he still connected with the community.

“There is certainly a challenge as it relates to the accelerated primary and the fact that we have to deal with the redistricting year,” he said. “But that said we’re confident that we’ve identified thousands of supporters who are going to come out and support us today.”

Jeffries also said the district lines, which are comprised of parts of Brooklyn and Queens, will not be a problem.

“There are things that unify people all across this congressional district. Everybody cares about safe streets. Everybody cares about good public schools everybody cares about a strong economy. We are bringing people together all across the congressional district in neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn and queens. I’m confident that at the end of the day we are going to be successful,” he said.

12:30 p.m.

Assemblymember Grace Meng arrived at St. Andrew Avellino School in Flushing at 11 a.m., ready to cast her vote.  Accompanied by husband Wayne, 37, and their young sons, Tyler, 4, and Brandon, 2, the congressional hopeful smiled as she received a warm welcome.

“We’re expecting a slightly low turnout,” said Meng, who joked she just spotted a family trailing suitcases, leaving for vacation. “We’re still hopeful for the evening rush. Hopefully more people will come out to vote.”

The predicted low turnout did not bother the assemblymember, who mentioned she feels she is getting a great amount of support from the community.

“Several people have said they’re voting for me,” she said.

Meng claimed a major push of her campaign involved spreading the word throughout the borough about voting in the primary, held this year in June for the first time in many years.

“We’ve made tons of phone calls and knocked on tons of doors and hopefully by the close of voting today and the close of the polls we’ll see a good turnout,” said Meng.

Toting Brandon on her hip, Meng strolled into the building to file her ballot.

“We’re very excited to cast out vote for Grace Meng,” said the assemblymember. “We look forward to the results and getting right to work.”

 

12:30 p.m.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman cast his vote at 11 a.m. at P.S. 173 in Fresh Meadows with the support of his two daughters, who helped scan his ballot.

“I’ve always been excited about election day, just being involved in politics my whole life. The elections that I get to vote for myself are even more exciting,” said Lancman, one of four 6th District primary candidates.

Lancman was surrounded by his two daughters, 10-year-old Laura Hannah and 12-year-old Gail, his 14-year-old son Jonathan and his wife Morgan.

“Running for office is a lot of fun, but it’s a tremendous sacrifice for the family,” he said. “It really is a team effort.  My two daughters in particular helping me put my ballot through the scanner was really very nice.”

According to volunteer at a poll site, 211 people had casted their vote at about 11 a.m.

“I feel very confident that we’re going to win,” Lancman said. “I think we have an understanding of what the universal voters are going to be in this race based on past races. We focused our efforts on making sure that we get our message out to who we think is going to vote. From what we can see, we’ve pretty much been accurate about what the universe is. I think we’ll have a good result tonight.”

12:40 p.m. Congressmember Bob Turner cast his vote in the Republican primary race for U.S. Senate earlier this morning in his hometown neighborhood of Breezy Point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11:00 a.m.

Congressmember Gregory Meeks cast his vote at about 9:45 this morning in St. Albans at P.S. 118 Lorraine Hansbury School.

With him was his wife, Simone Marie Meeks, who also cast her vote. The long-time congressmember said he was confident going into the last stretch of campaigning before ballots close tonight.

“I feel good, you never take anything for granted,” Meeks said. “You know you’ve got to earn everybody’s vote, and that’s what we try to do.”

Meeks said Congressional District 5’s diversity in many ways made it an area he looked forward to representing again. “I think it’s an exciting district,” he said. “It’s a district that looks like America when you think of it.”

 

 

 

10: 45 a.m.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley cast her vote this morning at P.S. 113 in Glendale flanked by her sons Dennis and Owen after talking to voters in Forest Hills.

“I feel strong. Ive been getting a great response from the people,” the 6th District candidate said.  “I outworked my opponents and I think its been a good campaign.”

The primary comes a day after the city agreed on a new budget that saved the 20 fire companies that were threatened to close.

Crowley who chairs the Fire and Criminal Justice committee said, “Closing even one fire company would have reduced response times and people’s lives would have hung in the balance.”

Surrounded by supporters from the Uniformed Fire Officers union, who endorsed her, Crowley added, “I’m so grateful to have the support of the uniformed fire officers, the firefighters, they’re out there working hard and helping get out message across to the voters.”

 

Primary Guide: 6th Congressional District


| editorial@queenscourier.com

The 6th Congressional District includes parts or all of: Bayside, Flushing, Middle Village, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Glendale, Fresh Meadows, Auburndale, Briarwood, Jamaica Hills, Hillcrest, Forrest Hills, Oakland Gardens, Elmurst, Rego Park and Kew Gardens.

 

Name: Elizabeth Crowley

Party: Democrat

Current Position: New York City Councilmember

Personal Info: Born the 14th of 15 children, Democrat Elizabeth Crowley understands the struggles of middle class families. After college, she joined the painters’ union and worked as a decorative painter on some of the city’s most historic sites, including Radio City Music Hall, Central Synagogue and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. She later helped administer a federal grant that assisted small businesses and workers recover after September 11.

Crowley currently represents western Queens as a member of the New York City Council. She lives in Glendale with her two children Dennis and Owen.

Issues: The biggest issue, both locally and nationally, is getting our economy back on track. I will be a strong advocate for job creation that helps Queens residents. This includes securing funding to hire more police officers and firefighters to keep our city safe, investing in transportation projects to provide more options for mass transit in the borough, helping small businesses grow and securing funds for education to keep teachers at work and keep class sizes small.

Platform: With unemployment still above eight percent, our first priority has to be getting our economy back on track and putting people back to work. It is time to bring our troops home and use the billions spent in Afghanistan on investing in our infrastructure here at home. I will also be a strong defender of Social Security and Medicare from cuts or attempts to privatize. Finally, we need to begin rewarding small businesses, which are a backbone of this city’s economy, and start giving small business owners tax breaks and credits to promote hiring — not to big corporations that ship jobs overseas.

 

Name: Rory Lancman

Party: Democrat

Current Position: New York State Assemblymember for District 25. First elected in 2006, Lancman currently chairs the Assembly Subcommittee on Workplace Safety and is a member of the following committees: Majority Steering; Judiciary; Codes; Labor; Banks; Housing; and Cities. Lancman still teaches local government law at St. John’s University, just down the road from his home in Hillcrest.

Personal Info: Lancman is a graduate of the New York City public school system, Queens College of the City University of New York and Columbia Law School. He lives in the Hillcrest neighborhood with his wife Morgan, whose family emigrated from Iran after the Islamic revolution, and their three children.

Issues: The biggest issue facing Queens, and the one that drives many of the other issues, is that the economic deck is stacked against middle-class New Yorkers, and this Congress isn’t doing anything about it. Whether it’s fixing a tax code that favors wealth over work, making sure that we help small businesses create jobs instead of protecting corporate profits, keeping college affordable for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers or fighting back against efforts to privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher system, Lancman will be a tireless advocate for the middle-class and for their priorities. Lancman has also been a leader on issues of national security, an issue of paramount importance in New York City, still the number one target for terrorism in the world.

Platform: No matter his role in public life, Lancman has been a fighter for New Yorkers who work for a living and struggle to build a better life for their families. A lifelong resident of Queens, he learned the values of hard work and persistence from his mother Betty, who raised him on her own while working as a waitress. As a young man, Lancman served his country as a platoon leader in New York’s own 42nd Infantry Division, and continued his service as a community board member and the chair of his local hospital advisory board.

In just five-and-a-half years in the state Assembly, Lancman passed 19 bills into law. His legislative tenure is hallmarked by his commitment to promoting homeland security and public safety, keeping our workplaces safe and leveling the playing field for ordinary New Yorkers looking to achieve the American Dream.

On the campaign trail, Lancman has distinguished himself as the “issues candidate” who can hit the ground running when he gets to Washington. Lancman’s expertise on the issues – whether on national issues like saving Social Security and keeping college affordable, or local issues like overdevelopment and saving post offices from closure — has set him apart from the field and has been the basis of much of his support.

 

Name: Grace Meng

Party: Democrat

Current Position: New York State Assemblymember representing Flushing

Personal Info: Before I was elected in 2008, I served my community as a public interest lawyer. I currently live with my husband Wayne, our two sons, Tyler and Brandon, and our dog, Bounce.

Issues: Creating jobs for hardworking families will be my top priority when I get to Congress. While we avoided plunging into a second Great Depression following the 2008 financial crisis, economic growth is still too slow and our unemployment rate is still too high. I have a clear vision and four-point plan for bringing jobs back to Queens:

1. Immediate federal aid to local and state governments to hire more public sector workers, including teachers, police officers and firefighters.

2. Federal transportation dollars – and transportation-related jobs – for Queens. I will seek appointment to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in order to achieve this objective.

3. Tax credits for small businesses that hire new workers.

4. Investment in technological advancement and initiatives that will help Queens thrive as a technology corridor.

If we pursue these objectives, we will create much-needed jobs right now, and lay the foundation for greater success in the long term. I have a clear vision and a specific plan, and when I get to Washington I will hit the ground running in pursuit of these objectives.

Tax reform is another important issue of concern for the middle-class families that are at the heart of my district. Republicans in Washington insist on cutting spending for vital programs that provide relief to society’s most vulnerable citizens and residents throughout Queens, while refusing to increase revenue by requiring wealthy individuals and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. We must recapture lost revenue by ending subsidies to oil companies and corporations that ship jobs overseas, and implement tax reforms like the Buffett Rule so that those who have benefited most from society do their part to help improve it.

Platform: I will continue to fight to protect the interests of seniors when I get to Washington. As a member of Congress, I will oppose the right-wing assault on the health care and senior citizen programs that are so crucial to the fabric of our society. I believe that every citizen should have access to quality, affordable health care; that individuals with pre-existing conditions should not be denied coverage; and that young people should continue to be able to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26.

I will also fight tirelessly to protect Medicare and Social Security and ensure retirement security for our country’s senior citizens. It is essential that we make prescription medication more affordable by allowing Medicare to use its purchasing power to bargain for better drug prices. On Social Security, we should protect the program’s long-term solvency by raising the FICA limit in the next three years, once the economy improves.

 

Name: Robert Mittman

Party: Democrat

Current Position: Owns allergy practice on Bell Boulevard

Personal Info: Married with two kids

Issues: Increase jobs for store owners on Bell Boulevard

Platform: Economy, economy, economy. We have to do something about bringing back jobs, helping the middle class; we have to bring back the mom-and-pop shops. There’s no manufacturing going on in this country. We also need to improve education.

There are not enough millionaires to cover the debt. Pharmaceuticals are too expensive. We are subsidizing the world’s health care system.

 

 

Check out the primary guide for all the races:

5th Congressional District

7th Congressional District

8th Congressional District

U.S. Senate

 

Low voter turnout expected in 6th District primary


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Candidates in a hotly contested Queens congressional contest expect few of the more than 180,000 registered Democrats to head to the polls for the upcoming primary.

The estimates of the 6th District’s candidates align with a recently released study that found less than a third of registered voters cast a ballot in New York City.

“Voter Turnout in New York City,” a report by the city’s Campaign Finance Board, found that New York City falls well below the state and nation in the percentage of voters that head to the polls.

Only 28 percent of registered voters cast a ballot during 2010’s midterm election, compared to 53 percent in the rest of New York, and 46 percent nationally. A major city race in 2009 did little to boost that number, as just 29 percent of people voted in that year’s mayoral election.

Candidates in the upcoming 6th District Democratic primary do not expect to approach even those numbers.

The campaigns for Assemblymembers Grace Meng and Rory Lancman both expect about 32,000 voters — which equals just 17 percent of the 183,000 registered Democrats.

Candidate Dr. Robert Mittman said he would be surprised to see even 30,000 people at the polls.

Most of the district had between 11 and 25 percent voter turnout in the 2009 elections, the finance board’s report found.

“It’s difficult to predict turnout for such an unprecedented primary election date,” said Austin Finan, Meng’s spokesperson.

Prior to this year, federal primaries were held in September, but were moved in January to comply with the federal MOVE Act, which was enacted to aid voting for those serving in the military overseas.

“It’s going to be a low turnout election,” Lancman’s spokesperson Eric Walker said. “Ask any political professional what’s the most important thing in a low turnout election — and it’s your field operation and your ‘get out the vote’ operation.”

Lancman’s field operation includes going door to door and identifying voters.

With low numbers expected, every vote takes on greater importance.

“We are trying to get as many people out to vote as possible,” said Eric Yun, Crowley’s spokesperson. “We are targeting every vote we could possibly get.”

The campaigning will go down to the very last minute, said Finan.

“We’ve run the strongest, grassroots field operation throughout the course of the campaign, and we are extremely well prepared to get out the vote in the final days of the campaign,” Finan said.

The primary is set for June 26.

- Additional reporting by Melissa Chan

6th District candidates reveal war chests


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Assemblymember Grace Meng has a fundraising edge over her three rivals in the congressional mad dash to the primary finish line, according to the latest figures released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Meng’s war chest going into the 6th District Democratic primary holds more than $750,000, her camp said, including $390,000 contributions from a combined 663 individuals since April 1.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman has raked in over $500,000 since the beginning of his campaign, including $150,000 of his own funds.

“We’ve got money coming in every day,” said Lancman’s spokesperson Eric Walker.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley currently ranks third in fundraising totals, with $280,916 and $19,500 in contributions.

Dr. Robert Mittman – a Bayside allergist and the only non-politician candidate in the race – who generated significantly lower totals so far than his rival elected officials. He had roughly $150,000 to advance his run in the home stretch, but of that amount, $100,000 came from his own pockets, his camp said.

“There’s a big difference here,” said Susan Silverman, Mittman’s spokesperson and wife. “[The other candidates] have big money coming in. We don’t have unions. This is a grassroots campaign. We’re going from the bottom up, not the top down.”

The campaign kickoff and fundraising efforts were delayed, Mittman said, and 15 percent of his limited campaign time was knocked off when he had to spend weeks defending petitions both in Queens Supreme Court and the Board of Elections after Lancman challenged them. Mittman cleared the 938 minimum with 1,220 valid signatures.

Now, Silverman said the team is taking a financial hit, especially with the pricey cost of mailers.

“We’re doing the best we can. It’s very, very expensive to send these mailers out. You can’t even believe how much — tens of thousands of dollars. You’re printing up 40,000 pieces or more, plus postage. It’s enormous,” she said. “We started late, but we hope we get the message out. We hope he’s going to be the horse that’ll run them out.”

Meanwhile, Mittman questioned the money-making matters of Meng and Lancman, pointing to reports that say the pair has missed over 75 percent of Assembly votes since they announced their congressional candidacies.

“The taxpayers are footing the bill for their electioneering. This is typical politics as usual. We elected them to do a job. We elected them to represent our area,” Mittman said.

Lancman was not slacking in Albany, Walker said, but instead was engaging in important conversations with voters on major issues.

A spokesperson for Meng said she is “extremely proud” of her recent record — which includes voting to raise the minimum wage and voting to pass DREAM Fund legislation — and has “worked hard to maintain a practical balance between her responsibilities in Albany and her commitment to the voters.”

Meng recently received huge endorsements from the New York Times, New York Post, El Diario, Queens Gazette, Queens Times, the Sierra Club, the New York League of Conservation Voters and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Leadership PAC. But Lancman will walk into the primary touting new boosts from the New York Daily News, Queens Chronicle, Grand Council of Hispanic Societies in Public Service and LaborPress, and Crowley with the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors FDNY Local 2507 and Uniformed EMS Officers Union Local 3621.

 

6th District candidates debate issues in Middle Village


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Hundreds of Maspeth and Middle Village residents packed the auditorium of Our Lady of Hope to ask questions and take in a debate between the four 6th District Democratic hopefuls.

Assemblymembers Grace Meng and Rory Lancman, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Dr. Robert Mittman took the stage at the Middle Village school to discuss both local concerns — stop and frisk and hospital closings — and national issues — Social Security and immigration reform.

Candidates answered questions from the audience, each other and a panel consisting of local reporters.

The areas of Maspeth and Middle Village will be in the newly-formed 6th District due to redistricting.

The four-round debate featured its share of contentious moments and an at-times restless audience.

Lancman and Crowley traded barbs throughout the night, with Lancman correcting the councilmember that the MTA is not a state agency, but an independent authority.

Crowley said her plan to fix the economy would not raise taxes on middle class families and businesses,

Meng largely avoided confrontations during the debate.

Citing the “career politicians” and “politics as usual” of the other candidates, Mittman at first drew cheers from the crowd.

The attendees gradually grew restless at the rhetoric, shouting “Answer the question” when they felt he avoided what was asked.

Lawrence Pliska, who attended the debate, said the anti-career politician rants were foolish.

“You do need somebody who understands what’s going on,” he said, before adding he believed Crowley won the debate.

Jeff Kaufman, a lifelong resident of Maspeth and Glendale, felt Lancman was the most polished debater of the candidates, though he was upset some of the more polarizing topics were avoided.

“[Lancman] was able to explain some of the more nuanced issues that either the other candidates didn’t understand or couldn’t explain.”

Social Security at center of 6th District contention


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Rory Lancman

A congressional candidate — who dubbed himself the sole fighter for the Millionaire’s Tax last week — set himself apart from his Democratic primary opponents once more by saying he is “the only candidate” in the race with a real plan to save Social Security.

“Social Security is in crisis,” said Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who is vying for the heavily-contested and newly-redrawn 6th District seat. “There are other candidates in the race who don’t seem to believe so. They think it’s something that we don’t need to address right away. They don’t see the imminence of the problem.”

According to Lancman, Social Security will run out of money in 2033 and will only be able to make about three-fourths of obligated payments at that time.

He said his proposal to lift the exemption on Social Security taxes for individuals with incomes over $110,600 would force “high-income earners to pay their fair share” into the Social Security fund. Scrapping the cap, Lancman said, would guarantee the program’s solvency for the next 75 years.

“That is what is bankrupting Social Security,” he said before taking swipes at his two major primary challengers, Assemblymember Grace Meng and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. “The challenge facing Social Security is immediate and severe, and so far I’m the only candidate in this race that has offered a real plan to save Social Security without reducing benefits, raising the retirement age or privatizing Social Security altogether.”

Meng said her plans were geared towards reaching a long-term solution. She said while the fund would definitely be able to pay benefits until 2033, she agreed Congress needs to take action before that.

“The most important thing right now is to ensure that we do whatever we can to stimulate job and economic growth so that in the long run there will be more people paying into the fund,” Meng said. “My point is not that we’re not taking action — it’s that we have to do whatever we can to increase the funds right now.”

Crowley also fired back at her challenger, saying the cap lift would increase taxes on the middle class and small businesses — not high-income earners. She said her plan is to put people back to work and “keep Republicans from cutting Social Security.”

“Raising taxes on the middle class and on small businesses is exactly what we don’t need to help Social Security. I’m sorry that Mr. Lancman thinks that it is a good idea,” Crowley said.

Lancman received a blow of his own from a local religious leader who sent out a “special clarification” last week, saying he was not endorsing the candidate’s policies or run for Congress after his photo was published without permission or notice in Lancman’s recent legislative mailer.

Reverend Thomas Pettei, a pastor at St. Nicholas of Tolentine R.C. Church in Jamaica, declined to comment, but said the letter speaks for itself.

“What upset me was that this mailing included a picture of me with Assemblyman Lancman, standing in front of our church,” Pettei wrote in the letter. “I simply want to make it clear that in no way should this be interpreted as any kind of endorsement of the Assemblyman’s policies or of his current campaign for Congress.”

The mailer was titled “Keeping our Houses of Worship Safe” and referred to legislation Lancman has proposed. Pettei also pointed to disagreements the Catholic Church and Lancman have on several issues as a reason for his concerns.

Meng recently received the endorsement of the New York League of Conservation Voters and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Leadership PAC, while Crowley gained boosts from the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors FDNY Local 2507 and Uniformed EMS Officers Union Local 3621.

6th District candidates Meng and Lancman trade jabs over Millionaire’s Tax


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Two democratic congressional contenders traded jabs with each other after one candidate dubbed himself the sole fighter for the Millionaire’s Tax.

In his mailed literature (pictured below), Assemblymember Rory Lancman — who is vying for the newly-redrawn 6th District seat — said he is “the only one” in the race “who fought for the Millionaire’s Tax in the Assembly so the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share.” Attempts to plant his flag on the measure’s passage angered colleague and opponent Assemblymember Grace Meng, who claims to be the champion for the middle class, according to her camp.

“While Rory Lancman was busy relishing in his self-promotion, Grace Meng was in Albany building bridges with her colleagues and negotiating the agreement that actually delivered real tax relief for struggling, middle-class families in Queens,” said Meng’s spokesperson, Austin Finan.

The Millionaire’s Tax was passed last December after legislative leaders voted in favor of it during a special session held less than a month before the state’s temporary surcharge was set to expire. The measure creates a higher tax bracket for highest-income residents and reduces the tax rate for millions of middle-class residents.

Finan said Meng, a tax equity supporter, not only pushed for the measure, but stood “front and center” at a Millionaire’s Tax rally held at City Hall last year in October. He also said she penned several statements and op-eds in support of it.

But Lancman’s spokesperson, Eric Walker, boasted of Lancman’s efforts, including writing an op-ed last year in the New York Daily News — and a column in the Huffington Post — and taking the same fight to Fox Business Channel and Capital Tonight. Walker said Lancman called for tax fairness back in 2008 — before Meng was even elected.

“Rory was the only one in this race who fought for the millionaire’s tax — that’s a fact,” Walker said. “If Meng was a leader in the fight for tax fairness, it must have been a top-secret operation.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver remained neutral in the standoff, saying “many members were strong advocates in our fight to extend the Millionaire’s Tax, including both Grace Meng and Rory Lancman.”

Meng was recently endorsed by the National Troopers Coalition, the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers, the New York Chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and the Bangladeshi American Community Council, while Lancman received boosts from The Jewish Press and former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, another candidate in the four-way Democratic primary, gained the support of Communication Workers of America Local 1101.

Meanwhile, the only citizen candidate in the primary race, Dr. Robert Mittman — a Bayside allergist — recently unveiled his own “Social Security Rescue Plan” and pledged to close the “Medicare doughnut hole” with federal budget savings. He proposed cutting military spending by at least 30 percent, fully eliminating the cap on taxable earnings and said millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share of earnings to the Social Security Fund.

Mittman’s first presser focuses on health care


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Robert Mittman

An underdog in the 6th District Congressional race formally announced his candidacy — with the Democratic primary only one month away.

In front of a small group of supporters — each gripping a campaign poster and a bright, red apple that has grown to symbolize his run — Robert Mittman, a Bayside allergy doctor, said he was running to bring a “fresh, new” perspective to Congress.

“If you look at the other people running, they’re all the same thing — they’re all politicians. It’s three peas in a pod,” Mittman said. “For far too long, our elected officials have avoided the tough decisions in an effort to selfishly get re-elected. Now is the time to get the great borough of Queens back on track and get our political system working for us.”

Mittman, after taking a bite of an apple, compared the “beautiful, healthy piece of fruit” to his hopes for the economy. He compared his symbolic fruit to outgoing Congressmember Gary Ackerman’s signature carnation and said he had “the prescription for a healthy economy.”

His campaign kick-off was delayed, Mittman told The Courier a few weeks ago, because he had to defend his petitions both in Queens Supreme Court and the Board of Elections after primary opponent Assemblymember Rory Lancman challenged them. Mittman cleared the 938 signature hurdle with 1,220 valid petitions.

“The window of campaigning is very short in this election. He was able to remove 15 percent of my limited campaign time by tying me up in court. He accomplished what he wanted to,” Mittman said.

His wife, Susan — who cheered him on during the May 30 announcement — also represented him in court, saving the family as much as $25,000, Mittman said.

At his first press conference, held outside former St. John’s Queens Hospital in Elmhurst, Mittman stressed the importance of keeping health care facilities open in Queens and lambasted policy makers for “[overseeing] a substantial dismantling of our local health care system.”

Five of the borough’s hospitals have closed within eight years, including St. Joseph’s Hospital in Flushing, which shuttered in 2004; Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, which flatlined in 2008; and St. John’s and Mary Immaculate Hospitals in Jamaica, which went under one year later. Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway shut its doors this April.

“I’m running because I believe we are at a critical time in our history,” Mittman said. “To me, the American Dream equals opportunity and without a good paying job or access to quality health care, that dream can only become a nightmare.”

Mittman outlined health care initiatives he said he would propose if elected. He said he hopes to eliminate the Medicare doughnut hole and provide full drug coverage for seniors, lower drug costs by extending patents, establish a federal work study program for aspiring doctors, establish strict guides on pharmaceutical companies and ensure no more hospitals in Queens will close.

The candidate garnered support from his 17-year-old son, mother and members of the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps. In regards to accusations of his run for Congress being a plant, Mittman said he was “the real thing.”

“We’re marching ahead and people are going to be behind me,” he said.