Tag Archives: Rory Lancman

Rory Lancman celebrates landslide City Council victory

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Twitter photo courtesy of Dominic Panakal

Former Assemblymember Rory Lancman is headed to City Hall. 

Lancman, 44, won the open District 24 seat in a landslide victory on November 5. He also swept his opponents during the Democratic primary in September. 

“I’m feeling great,” he said. “It’s very, very gratifying and humbling to not just win but win by such a huge margin.” 

The Fresh Meadows attorney beat out Republican Alexander Blishteyn and third-party candidate Mujib Rahman with 73.7 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election results. 

More than 11,850 votes went to Lancman, early tallies show. Blishteyn took in 3,205 votes and Rahman, who lost his bid for the Democratic nominee, received 1,020 votes, according to preliminary results. 

Lancman will replace term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro in a district that represents parts of northeast and central Queens. 

Lancman was elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006. He pledged not to seek re-election last year while running for Congress — later losing his bid for Capitol Hill in the Democratic primary.

City Council incumbents Weprin, Crowley miss DC 37 union endorsement

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

Two City Council incumbents from Queens were not endorsed by the city’s largest public employee union because they did not apply for the nod, the union said.

DC 37 released its endorsements for the November general election last Wednesday, which included multiple sitting councilmembers in the borough and candidates who won primaries in September.

Left off the Queens list were Speaker-hopeful Mark Weprin and Elizabeth Crowley — both who are Democrats, facing fairly easy challenges for re-election in a blue-dominated borough.

The pair joins a handful of city incumbents who were not endorsed because they did not apply to be part of DC 37’s long-established screening process, according to Wanda Williams, the union’s political and legislative director.

The list includes City Council incumbents Dan Garodnick, Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Annabel Palma, Brad Lander and David Greenfield.

“The lack of an endorsement should not be construed as a commentary on their performance but as a reflection of their decision not to submit themselves to our rigorous screening process,” Williams said.

“Only the kind of transparent and rigorous screening process we have adopted assures we give all candidates a fair hearing they have initiated,” she added.

Weprin said he was unaware of the union’s screening policy. He was also running unopposed until August.

“We didn’t really reach out since I didn’t have an opponent until the summer,” he said. “This year, I certainly would have loved their endorsement. They are certainly a valuable and important union to me. I don’t take offense at it. I just wasn’t aware of the process. No hard feelings.”

Crowley did not comment.

Contested Queens incumbents who enjoy the union’s backing this year include Peter Koo, Karen Koslowitz, Eric Ulrich, Ruben Wills and Donovan Richards.

DC 37 also endorsed unchallenged incumbents Julissa Ferreras, Danny Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer and primary winners Paul Vallone, Rory Lancman, Daneek Miller and Melinda Katz.

The municipal workers’ union, which has 121,000 members and 50,000 retirees, said it sends out an army of volunteers to work phone banks and do door-to-door “Get Out The Vote” operations.




Rory Lancman wins landslide victory in District 24

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Twitter

Former Assemblymember Rory Lancman swept his Democratic primary race Tuesday and moved one step further to winning an open City Council seat.

Lancman, 44, won the District 24 Democratic primary in a landslide victory on September 10.

The Fresh Meadows attorney beat out his opponents, Andrea Veras and Mujib Rahman, with nearly 62 percent of votes, according to unofficial election results.

“It’s very satisfying that so many people who I represented when I was in the State Assembly thought I did a good enough job there to give me the chance to serve them in the City Council at a time when all of New York City government is turning over,” Lancman said.

He will face off with Republican candidate Alex Blishteyn, who is also a Fresh Meadows attorney, in the November general election.

The winner will represent parts of central Queens in City Hall. The seat is being vacated by term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro.

Lancman was elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006. He pledged not to seek re-election last year while running for Congress — later losing his bid for Capitol Hill in the Democratic primary.

Primary guide: City Council District 24

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 candidates in City Council District 24 (Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Hillcrest Estates, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Utopia Estates, and parts of Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica and Rego Park), 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: Rory Lancman

Party: Democrat, Working Families

Current Occupation: Attorney

Personal Info: Prior to being elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006, Rory Lancman served on Community Board 8 for 16 years. For five years, he chaired the Queens Hospital Center Community Advisory Board, during which time he led the community’s successful fight to rebuild the hospital and stop its privatization. In the Assembly, Lancman chaired the Assembly Subcommittee on Workplace Safety, and his legislative agenda in the Assembly focused on issues related to workplace safety, homeland security, public safety and government reform.

Issues/Platforms: The city faces enormous challenges in keeping the American Dream alive here in New York.  Residents confront a rising cost of living and a hollowed out job market that leaves regular New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet, a hit-or-miss education system that leaves too many kids unprepared for college and the 21st century workplace, and an across-the-board increase in crime after two decades of falling rates.  After six years in the State Assembly, and 16 years on the local community board before that, passing important legislation and delivering for constituents, Lancman can help meet these challenges.

Name: Andrea Veras

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Legal support staff at The Legal Aid Society

Personal Info: Andrea Veras arrived in the U.S. in 1990, and raised and educated three children as a single parent.  After her children became independent, she followed her lifelong passion for social justice and became a paralegal in 2004. Last year, she received a Master’s Degree in Urban Affairs.

As a grassroots community organizer, she has already made an impact in her community and has a proven record of producing results. Since 2010, she has brought the issues of public safety and environment to the forefront. As a direct result of her involvement, the 107th Precinct increased patrols in the neighborhood. In 2012, Veras was awarded with the John and Yolka Linakis Scholarship for Outstanding Community Service.

Platforms/Issues: Veras would fight for higher wages and work to find community-based solutions to health care needs.  On education issues, she supports emphasis on increased parental involvement, the expansion of Pre-K services and will motivate high school students to learn different trades. She will work to foster economic development through the expansion of tax credits to businesses and the creation of job opportunities.  On affordable housing, she is committed to fight for rent regulations and create incentives to first-time home owners.




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

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



NYC Housing Authority residents outraged over parking hikes

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Rory Lancman

Queens residents are outraged over a price hike in the city Housing Authority’s annual parking rates.

“Raising the cost to park in public housing . . . is a slap in the face to all,” said Monica Corbett, president of the Pomonok Residents Association. “These fee increases hurt all residents, especially our seniors and fixed income population.”

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has spiked parking costs for some residents from $75 to $340 for non-discounted drivers, $60 to $272 for seniors and handicap, and $150 to $650 for on-site employees.

The agency has two types of parking facilities — reserved spaces for renters with assigned designations and non-reserved ones for motorists with no specific spots.

It is doing away with non-reserved lots and changing them to reserved ones starting May 1, said NYCHA spokesperson Zodet Negrón.

Expenses will rise only for drivers who currently pay for non-reserved slots.

NYCHA began a new partnership with Greystone Parking Services last month. New parking rules include police ticketing and towing of unauthorized vehicles.

“These changes to the Resident Parking Program will help ensure cleaner and safer parking lots for all residents,” Negrón said.

Conversion plans were released last December, according to the agency. But Queens residents said the news was sudden.

“NYCHA’s massive parking fee hike is unfair enough, but springing it on residents with next to no notice and requiring payment in full up-front really adds insult to injury,” said former Assemblymember and City Council candidate Rory Lancman. “NYCHA needs to focus on fixing its many shortcomings, from backlogged repairs to inadequate security, and not gouging residents.”

Assemblymember Mike Simanowitz said the change would force people to look for parking on public streets.
“The idea that our city streets will be further choked with vehicles is simply unacceptable,” he said.



Flushing millionaire making bid for City Council seat

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Isaac Sasson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lancman to vie for Gennaro’s City Council seat

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A state lawmaker is looking to take his legislative know-how to City Hall.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman officially announced his candidacy for City Council on Monday, November 19. The Democratic hopeful will seek to head the 24th Council District, which currently stretches from Fresh Meadows to Jamaica and is led by outgoing Councilmember James Gennaro.

“The city faces tremendous challenges in terms of the economy, the education system,” said Lancman, 43. “There’s going to be a real need for people who have legislative experience and the energy to try to tackle these issues head on, so I’m throwing my hat in the ring.”

Lancman, who decided not to seek re-election after serving the assembly for six years, had been on the fence about making a run to join the city’s lawmaking body since his failed congressional bid back in June.

But the “tremendous turnover in city government” next year — including the mayor and half of the City Council — made the decision easier, Lancman said.

“It’s going to be a very, very exciting time for the city, where the slate of government is going to be wiped clean,” he said.

Lancman said shaping city policy outweighed other options he considered for the “next chapter” of his life, which included going back to being a full-time lawyer or working in the nonprofit world.

“I really thought about what I really wanted to do in the next chapter of my life, what would give me satisfaction,” he said. “What really excites me about getting up every morning is being in public service. That is the most exciting thing for me.”

The lure of the open seat has already drawn in Martha Taylor, 72, who has declared her candidacy in the race to replace Gennaro. The lawyer from Jamaica Estates is also the Democratic District Leader in the 24th Assembly District, president of the Jamaica Estates Association and vice chair of Community Board 8.

City Council elections take place next November. A primary date has not yet been set.

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.


Race for Lancman’s seat heats up as he declines district leader nom

| mchan@queenscourier.com

A defeated congressional hopeful abandoned his run for re-election as party district leader, giving his county-backed opponent an uncontested free ride to the September election.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman filed declinations with the Board of Elections on July 16 to pull his candidacy in the Democratic Leadership 25th District Part A race as male district leader.

The move allows Queens County Democratic Party pick Yuen Yee Kui of Flushing to run without an opponent. By bowing out, Lancman — a decade-long district leader — will also avoid the second battle in a year with a county candidate.

Lancman defied the county in the 6th Congressional District when he chose to run against party-pick Assemblymember Grace Meng, who won with nearly 53 percent of the vote in the June 26 primary.

He pledged not to run for re-election in his current Assembly seat if his campaign fell short of Capitol Hill, but sources close to him could not specify his next plans. There is, however, speculation he may seek a run for City Council or borough president.

“Rory has other professional and political priorities right now other than running for re-election as a Democratic District Leader,” said Dominic Panakal, Lancman’s chief of staff.

Meanwhile, the race to replace him is heating up as the two Democratic primary hopefuls battle it out over their campaign war chests.

Democrat Nily Rozic of Fresh Meadows, a first-time candidate, boasted she outraised her opponent Jerry Iannece, who is a county-backed Community Board 11 chair with an army of institutional support, with over $60,000 from more than 250 individual donors across the city.

But Iannece, who holds a war chest of a little over $53,000, said the bulk of Rozic’s funds came from family members at the 11th hour and residents who live outside of the district.

According to the state’s Board of Elections financial disclosure report, more than $17,000 came from contributors who appear to be Rozic’s family members. A large majority of donors, the report shows, also live in other districts around the borough, city and some out of state.

“Money doesn’t win an election,” Iannece said. “I didn’t try to play games and show people I have support. At the end of the day, I’m going to have more than enough money to run. I’m more than where I thought I would be.”

A source close to Rozic’s campaign said it is not uncommon for large funds to come from contributors who live outside of the district and that funds from blood relatives hold the same amount in weight as those from outside the family.

“Bottom line is I outraised him,” Rozic said.


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

Primary Guide: 6th Congressional District

By Queens Courier Staff | 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


Fight for more park land in Maspeth

| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

As the search for a new home for St. Saviour’s Church continues, officials are looking into turning the former site into a park — possibly through the use of Eminent Domain.

A warehouse currently sits on a corner of the one-and-a-half acre plot in Maspeth, which is owned by Maspeth Development, while the rest of the land remains undeveloped.

“It is a complete slap in the face that we have to stand here now and see this monstrosity,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates.

Calls to the Maspeth Development went unreturned.
Plans for a park on 58th Street have been in the works since St. Saviour’s was removed in 2008, but each attempt to purchase the property has failed.

A Parks Department spokesperson said the agency is not looking to acquire the property at this time.

“We would be happy to examine any other suggested property acquisitions in the Maspeth community,” the spokesperson said.

“This community desperately needs more park space, and that’s not just a subjective feeling of people in the neighborhood, it’s a mathematical reality,” said Assemblymember Rory Lancman at a June 14 press conference with local leaders at the former site of St. Saviour’s.

The Parks Department said the goal is to ensure all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park.

“Maspeth needs 88 acres of park land and they only have 12, do the math,” said Lorraine Scuilli, vice president of the Juniper Park Civic Association. “This should be a park any way we can get it.”

One of the ways to get the land for a park would be Eminent Domain, which was used just blocks away from the St. Saviour’s site for the reconstruction of the Kosciuszko Bridge.

If the land is secured, rebuilding the church, which currently sits in two trailers a few blocks away from the site, is a possibility. St. Saviour’s was deconstructed in 2008 after an attempt to landmark the church failed and the property was sold.

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.