Tag Archives: Queens Borough President race

Republican BP candidate Arcabascio outlines plans if elected

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Aurelio “Tony” Arcabascio, Republican candidate for Borough President, said he has been painted as a Republican “one percenter” throughout his campaign.

“I drive a Honda, my parents are immigrants. Who is this one percent you’re talking about,” he asked.

Arcabascio, a project manager for North Shore-LIJ Health System, will face off against Melinda Katz on Tuesday, November 5.

Over the months leading up to the general election, Arcabascio has been going to community board meetings, civic meetings and more.

“You have to talk to people. You have to let them know who you are and that you’re not just a name on the ballot,” he said.

Although he does not have political experience, he said his small business background, healthcare work, management experience and knowledge of his would-be constituents create a recipe for success.

Arcabascio talked to The Courier about many current, pressing issues in the borough. Regarding education, he said he is against co-locations, not a fan of charter schools and an advocate for building new schools.

School and neighborhood safety were also a concern. Arcabascio mentioned P.S. 232 in Lindenwood, and said speed bumps need to be put in around the school’s busy area.

“What you need is somebody to say, ‘I want a speed bump there before something happens, because when something happens, I’m holding you responsible,’” he said.

He also hopes to revamp health care in the borough, and believes his experience at North Shore-LIJ will help him do so. For his staff, if elected, he would hope to appoint a Democrat as his Deputy Borough President.

For small businesses, he hopes to provide incentives for them to survive the fated first year, such as using Borough Hall to expedite city permits and applications.

“If we don’t get businesses open, they don’t hire people, they don’t get sales, we don’t collect taxes,” he said. “It’s a vicious cycle. Our job is to make them survive.”

He is for a soccer stadium in the borough, but not in Flushing Meadows- Corona Park. He also pledged to “work four years” to eliminate the toll going into the Rockaways.

“We need a change in this office,” he said. “Unfortunately, when you look at it, it’s been 20 years of malaise in Queens.”



Katz outlines plan to ‘Green Queens’ if elected borough president

| mchan@queenscourier.com

One thousand new trees would grow in Queens and government rooftops would be painted an energy-saving white should Melinda Katz win her bid to lead the borough.

The former legislator outlined her “Plan for a Green Queens” on Tuesday, September 3 with her newest supporter, the New York League of Conservation Voters.

“With a total absence of federal legislation on environmental issues, there is a real need for local leaders to step in and fill the vacuum,” Katz said.

The candidate said she would use her borough presidency to allocate more park space, make Queens government buildings more energy efficient and lead regular electronic waste drives.

“These are simple steps we can take locally that will improve our environment globally,” Katz said. “That’s the innovative approach our borough needs as we fight to create green jobs and expand the green-collar industry in Queens.”

She would also dedicate indoor and street recycling bins — a spin on a different initiative her Democratic opponent proposed last month.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who is facing off with Katz in a tight primary, said in August he would fund and install placards on trash cans given through the city’s volunteer “Adopt-A-Basket” program.

He also joined the White Roof Project in June to paint low-income and nonprofit roofs in Astoria with solar-reflective white coating.



Queens borough president primary guide

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


As the clock ticks closer to city primaries on Tuesday, September 10, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running. Here is a list of the Queens borough president primary candidates, who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November.

Name: Everly Brown

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Real Estate Developer, Foreclosure Consultant

Personal Info: Everly Brown was born in Jamaica and has been a Queens resident for 47 years. He has been a community activist for more than 30 years and has attended St. Francis College: BA, Washington Business Institute: AAS, St. John’s University: Basic Real Estate law.

Issues/Platforms: Key Issues: Jobs, Education, Affordable housing, Advocacy, Equality, Transparency in Government, Transportation, Public Safety and Participatory Democracy.

Platform: Reform Ballot Initiative, so that democracy can be streamlined.

Name: Melinda Katz

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Attorney, formerly of Greenberg Traurig

Personal Info: Melinda Katz has been a tireless advocate for Queens and a trusted public servant for 20 years, serving as a member of the New York City Council, New York State Assembly and director of community boards for former Borough President Claire Schulman. As a legislator, Katz focused on affordable housing, improving schools and expanding healthcare services by passing the first law in the country to require HMOs to cover OBGYN services. A lifelong resident of Queens, Katz is a product of public schools. She attended college at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and St. John’s University School of Law. Currently, Katz and her family are raising their two children, Carter and Hunter, in the house where she grew up.

Issues/Platforms: As borough president, Katz will work with all communities to expand access to health care, create affordable housing and stimulate economic development across Queens. To relieve overcrowding in Queens’ nine remaining hospitals, Katz has called for the opening of primary and urgent care facilities throughout the borough. To attract and strengthen local business, Katz will work with partners in government to expand tax incentives for new or expanding businesses who hire locally.

Name: Peter F. Vallone Jr.

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: City Councilmember, Public Safety Committee Chair

Personal Info: Father of two girls; former prosecutor; graduate of Fordham College and Fordham Law School

Issues/Platforms: For 12 years, Peter F. Vallone Jr. has served in the New York City Council. As the head of public safety committee, he worked with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to cut crime by 35 percent. He also worked tirelessly to pass tough laws on graffiti vandals, sex offenders and gun traffickers.

As a homeowner, Vallone also knows how tough it is to own a home in Queens. That’s why he is the ONLY candidate who voted against raising property taxes and fought water rate increases.

Vallone is also a small business owner. Small businesses in Queens are the backbone of the borough, which is why he worked to reduce unnecessary regulations and replace some fines with warnings so they can continue to thrive and drive the economy.

As the father of two girls who went to public schools, Vallone knows the importance of a safe learning environment. He wrote the law to put security cameras in schools and sponsored legislation to allow our kids to carry cells phones to and from school to ensure their safety.

 *NOTE: Despite the fact that State Senator Tony Avella announced he was dropping out of the Queens borough president race on August 14, his name will still be on the ballot during the September 10 primary election.



VIDEO: Vallone releases first campaign commercial in BP race

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Video via Vimeo

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who is in a tight race with Melinda Katz for Queens borough president, has released his first campaign commercial. He is also the first borough president candidate to come out with a television ad.

Peter F. Vallone Jr. for Queens Borough President from Roberts Horowitz Creative on Vimeo.




Tony Avella drops out of Queens borough president race

| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

The once-crowded Democratic race for Queens borough president is now down to two.

State Senator Tony Avella dropped his bid for the seat Wednesday, citing “unfinished business in Albany” as one of his reasons, his campaign said.

“It has become clear that there is still a lot of work left to be done,” Avella said. “At this time, I believe I can best serve the people of Queens by remaining a State Senator.”

Avella, who had low fundraising totals, was facing off with former legislator Melinda Katz and Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. in the Democratic primary. Everly Brown is also on the ballot but has kept a low profile since announcing.

“From protecting against the threat of hydrofracking to preserving women’s rights, there is a lot of unfinished business in Albany,” Avella said, “and I hope to take more of a leadership role in helping address these important issues, which reverberate beyond Queens and affect people across the entire state.”

The race to replace term-limited Borough President Helen Marshall once had many contenders. Councilmember Leroy Comrie withdrew his bid last month.

Avella’s name will still be on the ballot during the September 10 primary election.

“This was certainly not an easy decision and I am eternally grateful for the overwhelming amount of support I received from people throughout Queens,” he said. “Queens is my home borough and I will never stop fighting and advocating for all residents of Queens.”

Vallone, who often clashed with Avella in debates, said the two “disagreed on some things but agreed on many others.”

“I look forward to working with him and his constituents to make a better Queens,” Vallone said.

Katz praised Avella for being “a forceful voice for more open, honest and transparent government in Albany.”

“His presence in this race brought the focus to real issues facing voters around our borough,” she said, “including education, affordable housing and better healthcare for all Queens residents.”

The winner will run against Republican candidate Tony Arcabascio in November.



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Wednesday: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain, then thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. High of 88. Winds from the SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Wednesday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers, then a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 75. Winds from the SW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.3 in. possible.

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Three Queens Borough President candidates slam $3 billion Willets Point proposal

Two City Councilmen — who happen to both be running for Queens borough president — are trying to block the plate against a proposed mega-mall next to CitiField. Read more: New York Daily News

Queens leaders shoot down home raising plan that could cost residents tens of thousands of dollars

Queens leaders shot down a city plan that could cost homeowners — still reeling from Superstorm Sandy — tens of thousands of additional dollars. Read more: New York Daily News

Documents on former Mayor Koch released by FBI

Documents released for the first time Tuesday from the FBI file on former New York City Mayor Edward Koch detail one of the more obscure chapters of his storied political career: an unsolved plot to paint the then-congressman as a racist by circulating a forged letter, warning the city would become a “ghost town” if voters elected a black mayor. Read more: AP

Quinn: Spitzer, Weiner haven’t earned second chance

Democratic mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn took some shots at the comeback efforts of Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer. Read more: CBS New York

Surviving suspect in Boston bombing due in court

Survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing will watch as the young man who could face the death penalty for the attack appears in court for the first time since he was found bleeding and hiding in a boat in a suburb days after the April 15 explosion. Read more: AP

Leroy Comrie announces borough president bid

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Leroy Comrie

Democratic Councilmember Leroy Comrie officially announced his run for Borough President on the steps of Queens Borough Hall, where he was surrounded by friends, family and supporters.

“Queens’ future looks brighter every day,” Comrie said on Monday. “We will seize this unique opportunity to use and build on the energy and vitality of our neighborhoods.”

The City Council Deputy Majority Leader said that as Borough President, he would continue to build coalitions “because they work.” He added that as proof of the success, he has supported affordable housing, made sure small businesses do not get fined for violations they are unaware of and expanded tax exemptions for the disabled and elderly.

“We have made great strides and as Borough President we will have an opportunity to expand our work throughout the borough,” he said.

Supporters at the announcement included clergy leaders from around the borough as well as his wife Marcia Moxam Comrie and their two children, Liana and Benjamin.

Comrie was elected to represent the 27th Council District in 2001 and is currently chair of the Land Use Committee.



Peralta drops out of borough president race

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

State Senator Jose Peralta is dropping his bid for borough president and endorsing county pick Melinda Katz for the job.

“I want to thank the thousands of Queens residents and civic and community leaders that I had the pleasure of meeting during the course of the campaign,” Peralta said in a statement. “Your warm reception of my candidacy and your encouragement and support are enormously appreciated.”

Peralta, along with Councilmember Leroy Comrie, was thought at one point to get the county’s Democratic Party endorsement for Borough Hall. District leaders ultimately backed Katz, a former councilmember and former assemblymember who’s second in polls and fund raising.

The second-term state senator is the second candidate to drop out and endorse Katz. Former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik threw his support behind Katz last week after dropping out.

Insiders believe Democrats have been pressuring candidates to drop out and make way for Katz.

Whoever wins will likely face a general election as Republican Tony Arcabascio has declared an interest in running.

The race is now down to four Democrats in the narrowing primary: Katz, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., the front runner in polls and money raised, State Senator Tony Avella and Comrie, who is expected to officially announce his candidacy Monday.

Peralta, in his statement, said he plans on continuing to fight for issues he laid out in his beep campaign. Those include fighting for more seats in schools, getting more affordable housing in the borough and kindling economic growth.

Since officially announcing last fall, Peralta has raised a total $301,316 on the road to Borough Hall, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board. That number is comparatively lower than that raised by Vallone Jr.—well over $1 million—or Katz—more than $400,000—but still ranks him third of the six declared candidates.



Barry Grodenchik drops out of BP race after key endorsement goes to Katz

| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Former assemblymember Barry Grodenchik has ended his borough president bid less than a day after being beat for a key county endorsement.

“The next borough president must focus like a laser on jobs, education, healthcare, economic development and Sandy recovery,” Grodenchik said. “I am proud to have brought those issues to the forefront of the debate. But at this time, I believe that it is in the best interest of my family, team and party to end my candidacy.”

Grodenchik, 53, served as deputy borough president from 2009 to earlier this year, when he stepped down in order to run for BP.

The Queens County Democratic Party endorsed his rival, Melinda Katz, on Monday.

Sources close to the race said the endorsement, coupled with Grodenchik’s exit, was meant to give Katz a much-needed boost over front-runner Peter Vallone Jr. The councilmember leads the race both in polls and in fundraising.

Sources said Grodenchik’s move could also give Katz a better chance of securing key votes from the Orthodox Jewish community, where Grodenchik had strong support.

Katz already has the endorsement of several southeast leaders including the Reverend Floyd Flake, senior pastor of the 23,000-member Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica.

Vallone, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee, has the support of law enforcement groups including the Detectives Endowment Association, the New York City Fire Marshals Benevolent Association and the NYPD Captains Endowment Association.

Councilmember Leroy Comrie and State Senator Tony Avella are rumored to be thinking of dropping out of the beep race. Neither campaign returned calls for comment.

Political insiders said the county’s leadership has been increasing efforts to hurt Vallone’s chances.

“It’s very obvious that this was an ‘ABV’ choice,” said a Queens political operative, meaning “Anybody But Vallone.”

The Queens County Democratic Party did not immediately comment.

Vallone, often seen as being too vocal, said the recent developments have not hurt his campaign.

“That’s fine,” he said. “As I’ve said from day one, it doesn’t matter. I never expected county support, and it doesn’t matter to me if there are two candidates or 10. I’m still going to be in this until the end, and I intend to win it.”

Queens Democratic endorsements: Party backs Katz for borough president, Quinn for mayor

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Melinda Katz: File photo; Christine Quinn; Photo William Alatriste

The Queens Democratic Party doled out its endorsements for this year’s elections Monday, giving key backings in multi-candidate primaries.

The party backed Council Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor, former deputy public advocate Reshma Saujani for public advocate; Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for comptroller and Melinda Katz for Borough President. Stringer’s son was born earlier that morning.

Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, who nearly won the mayor’s race in 2009, only received three votes in his favor. Upon Quinn’s formal nomination, she received a standing ovation. The candidate promised better conditions for the middle class in terms of jobs and education.

Katz served in the Assembly from 1994 to 1999. After that, she went on to oversee Queens’ 14 community boards under former Borough President Claire Shulman. Katz then served in the City Council for two terms, and lost the 2009 Democratic primary for comptroller.

She is running against Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and Peter Vallone Jr., State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik.

“It was not an easy choice,” said Congressmember Joseph Crowley, chair of the county party. “But we believe that Melinda has all the assets necessary to become the next borough president.”

Katz said she’s excited for the nearly four months of primary campaigning that still lie ahead.

“Over the last year, I have come into your districts,” she said. “We have spoken with constituents together. I’ve gotten to know the issues that surround this entire borough.”

Comrie was considered a likely pick for the nomination in the days leading up to the endorsement. But he has had trouble raising funds and was snubbed earlier this year in a key endorsement from the Reverend

Floyd Flake. Flake’s congregation is in Comrie’s council district, but the religious leader backed Katz.
Vallone, who has been leading in polls and in fund raising, said he was not disappointed by the party’s backing for Katz, adding he did not expect to get the endorsement. His brother Paul was endorsed for City

Council District 19, beating out Austin Shafran. Shafran has received a slew of endorsements since January, one of the biggest being from the AFL-CIO.

“The endorsement is not something I was expecting,” Vallone said. “And I’m just very happy they went with my brother Paul, because I’m going to need him in City Hall if, God willing, I’m borough president.”

In her endorsement for Saujani, Crowley cited Saujani’s advocacy for housing and work in the public advocate’s office under incumbent Bill de Blasio.

She is running in a four-way Democratic primary against State Senator Daniel Squadron, Cathy Guerriero and Tish James.



Republican Arcabascio to run for Borough President

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

An Astoria technology professional is eyeing a Borough Hall run as a Republican, making the race for borough president a little tighter.

Aurelio “Tony” Arcabascio confirmed his candidacy and expects to receive county endorsement soon.

Arcabascio, who ran his own technology company for 13 years, made his debut in the political world last year when he ran an unsuccessful race against State Senator Michael Gianaris for District 12.

Now, looking to represent the whole borough, Arcabascio said he wants to bring his experience as the only non-elected official to the table.

“I haven’t been caught up in politics for my whole career,” he esaid.

A product of Jackson Heights, Arcabascio, 52, will face one of six Democrats vying for the spot: Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and Peter Vallone Jr., State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella, former Councilmember and former Assemblymember Melinda Katz and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik.

The Dems will face off in a September 10 primary.

Arcabascio, who nabbed the GOP endorsement for Senate last year, expects to pick it back up for borough president. Queens Republican chair Phil Ragusa said the candidate is going through the screening process for the endorsement, and a formal announcement should come soon.

With his background in technology, Arcabascio said he is open to bringing more of the industry’s jobs to the borough, especially in western areas such as Long Island City and Maspeth.

“We have a lot of empty factories in Queens,” he said. “One of the things I believe would be my responsibility as the number one cheerleader for Queens is to get businesses here.”



More endorsements for Queens candidates

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


The New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO endorsed another round of City Council candidates, all of whom for Queens are running for relection:

City Council District 20: Peter Koo
City Council District 23: Mark Weprin
City Council District 25: Daniel Dromm
City Council District 26: Jimmy Van Bramer


Former Public Advocate and 2001 Democratic mayoral candidate Mark Green endorsed former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik.

The League of Humane Voters of New York City and New York State endorsed State Senator Tony Avella.



Candidates focus on development at Borough President forum

| tcullen@queenscourier.com


Questions regarding development at Willets Point, directed mainly at three of the six candidates, became a significant part of a recent forum for borough president.

Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. and Leroy Comrie, State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella, former Councilmember and Assemblymember Melinda Katz and former Deputy BP Barry Grodenchik took the stage at the Friday, April 12 meeting, co-hosted by the Queens Chamber of Commerce and St. John’s University.

Specific questions were directed at each candidate, with Comrie, Vallone and Peralta each addressing how, if elected, he would reshape the area known as the Iron Triangle.

Peralta harkened on making Queens a destination location – a policy of incumbent Helen Marshall. With the planned “Tech Campus” coming to Roosevelt Island, Peralta suggested pushing for a tech sector near Willets Point. But affordable housing and better infrastructure are the first step, he said.

Comrie, who chairs the Council’s Land Use Committee, said he’s open to re-exploring a convention center at Willets Point. He also mentioned a potential center at Aqueduct, where Governor Andrew Cuomo had originally proposed one.

“We really need a convention center for the borough,” Comrie said, adding better transportation options would need to be explored for south Queens if convention center talks resurged.

Vallone said Queens residents, in a recent poll, would like to see full-gaming in the borough at Resorts World Casino New York City.

The councilmember, however, is also open to a convention center or further retail shops at the site. But, he said, it would have to be the community’s call on what goes there.

There is about 4.5 million-square-feet of Willets Point the city plans on developing over the next few decades, once the projects on either side of Citi Field are completed.

The borough president’s role in Queens, better transportation and small business growth were also hot topics at the business-focused forum.

Traditionally, a Beep has been branded a “cheerleader” for Queens, but most felt it was more than that.

Grodenchik said he viewed the role as a leader and if elected, he wanted more to be “the quarterback of Queens.”

Katz, who chaired the Land Use Committee before Comrie, touted her record of working across the city and what it takes to be borough president.

“You should be able to create an economic vision for the borough of Queens,” she said. “I think it’s important to span that throughout the borough.”

State Senator Tony Avella said the borough president needed to also serve as a public advocate for the diverse neighborhoods, and the “mom and pop” small businesses who often get hit with city fines.



Queens candidates rack up backing

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO endorsed several Queens candidates for City Council districts:


City Council District 21: Julissa Ferreras
City Council District 29: Karen Koslowitz
City Council District 30: Elizabeth Crowley
City Council District 31: Donovan Richards


City Council District 22: Costa Constantinides
City Council District 24: Rory Lancman
City Council District 27: Daneek Miller

Peter Tu, executive director of Flushing Chinese Business Association, personally endorsed Austin Shafran for District 19.


The National Organization for Women Political Action Committee (NOW PAC) endorsed State Senator Jose Peralta.

The Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York and Long Island endorsed former Councilmember and former Assemblymember Melinda Katz.



Borough President candidates making the rounds

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BP candidates


Borough President candidates are blazing through Queens, participating in forums and allowing the community to hear their positions.

The six Democrats hoping to replace current Borough President Helen Marshall most recently gathered at the Hollis Hills Jewish Center in Fresh Meadows and attended the Ridgewood Democratic Club’s monthly meeting.

State Senators Tony Avella and Jose Peralta joined City Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. and Leroy Comrie, former Assembly and Councilmember Melinda Katz and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik to speak to members of several Democratic clubs across Queens.

In Fresh Meadows, discussion of mayoral control of the Board of Education (BOE) dominated the forum.
Grodenchik said he has mixed feelings towards the issue, but he wants to “bring some measure of control back to the boroughs.”

The controversy surrounding development of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was also heavily debated. Peralta said he in favor of the proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium, but would ensure that the park space used not only has to be replaced, but improved.

“It has to be better,” he said, calling soccer “the sport of the world.”

Despite his support for the stadium, he is opposed to the proposed plans for a shopping mall and an expansion of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) center.

Vallone said that he wanted to eliminate overexpansion in the park and bring it to areas in the borough that are “yearning for that kind of development.”

Avella, however, said he is the only candidate that is steadfastly against all three proposals for development.

All of the candidates will continue to campaign and participate in forums across Queens until election day on

Tuesday, November 5. The next forum will be held at St. John’s University on Friday, April 12.