Tag Archives: sd16

Six-time incumbent Stavisky claims victory over Messer in primary


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Incumbent State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky will fight to keep her seat in the general election after claiming victory in the highly contentious District 16 primary race last week.

“I think we sent a positive message that there are issues that are important to us as Democrats,” Stavisky said during her victory party at the Sheraton Hotel in Flushing. “The people I really want to thank are the voters out there. You’re the ones to whom I report, to whom I’m accountable, and I will be forever grateful to the people of the 16th Senate District.”

Stavisky beat out her rival, attorney John Messer from Oakland Gardens, by winning 58 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results as of 1 a.m. on September 13 when 100 percent of precincts were reporting.

The six-time incumbent garnered 4,940 votes while her opponent took in 3,575, unofficial results showed.

But it was not a fight easily conceded.

Messer, at his own primary party in Woodside, refused to back down, believing he was the favored candidate in at least 75 percent of precincts. He said poll numbers were perplexing.

“It just doesn’t make any sense to me,” Messer said. “We went to certain poll sites where certain poll site workers would come out and say, ‘By the way, everyone who came in here today was asking for you’ and then we get the numbers and they’re like 50/50.”

The local attorney and small business owner said a hard hit in the south Flushing neighborhood of Electchester — a Stavisky-favored area — caused his influence to dwindle at local polls, but he said his lawyers will be looking into a possible recount, consulting with judges to see if an order can issue a second look at the votes.

“We inspired so many people and brought so many people into the process,” Messer said. “I don’t want the people who are behind us and who really want a change to get disappointed. We’re going to still work together to bring out change and bring the communities together.”

The two candidates battled through a heated primary race waged principally on negative campaign attacks. Stavisky said antagonistic literature against her was even being distributed at the 11th hour outside of a poll site in Jackson Heights.

At the pair’s first debate together, Stavisky made a stance that she would not be bullied. She told The Courier, while poll sites were still open, that she’s happy with the campaign she’s conducted.

“I talked about the issues that were important to the voters: education, job creation, services for older Americans, health care. This is what people care about,” she said. “I tried to discuss those issues.”

Stavisky is the first woman from Queens elected to the State Senate. She will face off with Republican J.D. Kim in the November 6 general election.

The newly-redrawn district emcompasses parts of Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Bayside, Oakland Gardens, Rego Park, Elmhurt, Forest Hills and Jackson Heights.

“Let us remember the principles of the Democratic Party, and let’s go on to a big, big victory for everybody in November and the Democratic State Senate,” she said.

— Additional reporting by Alexa Altman

Messer refuses to give up fight


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

John Messer

It was a fight not easily conceded.

State Senate hopeful John Messer refused to back down after opponent Toby Ann Stavisky reported winning numbers during the primary race for the 16th District. Messer said a hard hit in the south Flushing neighborhood of Electchester — a Stavisky-favored area — caused his influence to dwindle at local polls.

Messer said he found the numbers perplexing and that he believed he was the favored candidate in nearly all precincts. The contender said he brought a large number of new voters to the polls, who may have checked their ballot box with an X instead of filling in the bubble.

The local attorney and small business owner said his lawyers will be looking into a possible recount and are going to consult with judges to see if an order can issue a second look at the votes.

“I believe going into this I wanted to inspire people and I wanted to bring people into the process and when I went around today, everyone was so excited,” said Messer. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me. We went to certain poll sites where certain poll site workers would come out and say by the way everyone who came in here today was asking for you and then we get the numbers and they’re like 50/50. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Messer believes he won 75 percent of the precincts.

“We inspired so many people and brought so many people into the process, I don’t want the people who are behind us and who really want a change to get disappointed. We’re going to still work together to bring out change and bring the communities together.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 93. Southwest wind 8 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. West wind 8 to 10 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Doctor Zhivago at the Museum of the Moving Image

Take in the 1965 classic at the Museum of the Moving Image.  Based on Boris Pasternak’s novel, this tale of a love triangle set against the Bolshevik Revolution is an astonishing feat, as emotionally involving as it is visually spectacular. Highlights include Freddie Young’s Oscar-winning cinematography and Maurice Jarre’s iconic score.

Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Stavisky and Messer face off in 16th Senate District debate

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and opponent John Messer agreed job creation was a priority in the 16th State Senate District as the two stated their platforms and fielded questions at a Wednesday, August 29 forum before hundreds of residents in the district. Despite agreeing on general issues such as employment, energy and bilingual signage, the six-time incumbent and Senate hopeful found themselves on opposite sides on gay marriage and charter schools. Read more: Queens Courier

Huntley probe widens

The criminal probe into indicted state Sen. Shirley Huntley has expanded to include every earmark she secured for nonprofits that employed her campaign staffers, Senate aides and family members, The Post has learned. Huntley, a Democrat, is facing up to 12 years in prison for allegedly covering up the misuse of $30,000 in “member item” funds by her niece and an aide to the bogus Parent Workshop charity. Read more: NY Post

Romney vows to deliver country from economic travails

Mitt Romney accepted the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday by making a direct appeal to Americans who were captivated by President Obama’s hopeful promises of change, pledging that he could deliver what the president did not and move the country from its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Read more: NY Times

Women employed by lawmaker describe sexually hostile office

Five women who worked for Vito J. Lopez, the assemblyman at the center of a broadening sexual harassment scandal, described in interviews an atmosphere of sexual pressure and crude language in his office, with frequent unwanted advances by him and others, requests for provocative dress, personal questions about their boyfriends and fears of reprisals if they complained. Read more: NY Times

New program at sprawling public housing complex offers farm fresh foods for $10 a bag

Farm fresh produce is a scarce commodity in the Queensbridge Houses, where diabetes rates are high and junk food is cheap and plentiful. A new program — which kicks off next week — is offering residents a bag full of fruits and vegetables for just $10 a week. Read more: Daily News

Hip-hop manager Chris Lighty dead after shooting himself outside his Bronx apartment

Hip-hop mogul Chris Lighty died Thursday morning after he shot himself after an argument with his estranged wife at his Bronx apartment, sources told the Daily News. Lighty, 44 — a longtime manager of 50 Cent, Diddy, Ja Rule and Mariah Carey — stepped outside his South Riverdale apartment about 11:30 a.m., after a spat with his wife, Veronica, police sources said. Read more: Daily News

MTA kicking more trash cans at subway stations

Starting Sunday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is removing more trash cans from subway station platforms. The agency is expanding a pilot program that is aimed at reducing the rodent population in the subway system. The MTA says it has more trash than it can collect at subway stations. Read more: NY1

Stavisky and Messer face off in 16th Senate District debate


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Terence Cullen

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and opponent John Messer agreed job creation was a priority in the 16th State Senate District as the two stated their platforms and fielded questions at a Wednesday, August 29 forum before hundreds of residents in the district.

Despite agreeing on general issues such as employment, energy and bilingual signage, the six-time incumbent and Senate hopeful found themselves on opposite sides on gay marriage and charter schools.

The forum, held at New York Hospital Queens and hosted by Queensboro Hill Neighborhood Association, was co-moderated by Queens Courier reporter Melissa Chan and a TimesLedger reporter Joe Anuta.

Plans for Willets Point would bring thousands of permanent jobs to the area, Stavisky noted, and economic activity to Queens. She went on to say that as chair of the Higher Education Committee, she’s pushed for private/public partnerships between colleges in the state and businesses — giving the example of the developing tech-campus on Roosevelt Island.

Messer, a small business owner himself, said the problem was that too many businesses were leaving the city, and state, because of fines and the inability to grow.

“We should be supporting our small businesses,” he said. “Most importantly we need a long-term strategy to keep our businesses here and stop sending them out of the state.”

At the same time, both said, albeit through different plans, that they would work on increasing minimum wage. Messer said he would propose a two-tiered approach: first increase minimum wage to $7.85; when the economy was better he would push to raise it to $8.50.

Stavisky said she is co-sponsoring a bill that would base minimum wage on consumer-price index.

“It seems to me that you can’t live on $15,000 a year,” Stavisky said.

Through the terse time each had to field questions from moderators, each faced boo’s and calls from the audience.

It especially became so when either answered a question that upset members of the increasingly rowdy crowd.

On gay marriage, Messer fielded first by saying that gay marriage was state law, but recognized that “many people in my district oppose…” The answer was met with boos, and the Senate hopeful sat down passing the microphone to Stavisky.

Stavisky, the first woman from Queens in the state Senate, said she supported gay marriage and was adamantly against discrimination.

“You can’t pick and choose who you’re against,” she said.

Charter schools, a recently debated issue in the city, were presented on both sides by the candidates. Stavisky, formerly a teacher, said she had seen research showing students at charter schools did not do any better than public school students.

“I am not a big fan of charter schools and I must be very honest, it is my opinion the mayor would like to see an end of public schools,” she said.

Messer, however, said charter schools had potential to ease the burden of overcrowding in schools and could create competition in the public system.

“Charter schools are an option where we can alleviate some of the overcrowding and also they make our public schools more competitive and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Messer said.

Democrat voters will decide on Thursday, September 13 if Stavisky or Messer will face off against Republican J.D. Kim. in the November 6 general election.

Board of Elections bounces hopefuls from ballot


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Three northeast Queens assembly hopefuls had their election dreams squashed after the city’s Board of Elections (BOE) tossed them off the primary ballot.

Democrat John Scandalios, who was vying to replace Assemblymember Grace Meng in the Flushing-based 40th District, had an insufficient number of signatures and was bumped off the September 13 primary ballot, according to results of the BOE’s July 31 ballot challenge hearings.

William Garifal Jr. — one of two Republican runners in the 25th Assembly race — and Lauren Whalen-Nelson, who had hoped to take on current Assemblymember Ed Braunstein in the 26th District, also got the boot due to lack of valid petitions.

Each contender had until July 12 to circulate at least 500 required designating petitions, according to the BOE.

Democrats Ron Kim, Ethel Chen, Myungsuk Lee, Yen Chou and Martha Flores-Vasquez and Republicans Phil Gim and Sunny Hahn will battle it out next month in the 40th District, as will Democrats Jerry Iannece and Nily Rozic in the 25th District. With Garifal’s expulsion, Republican candidate Abe Fuchs in the 25th District will sail through to November’s general election.

State Senator Tony Avella will also not see a challenger until November, when he will face off with Republican contender Joseph Concannon in the 11th District. But State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky in the 16th District can expect a primary fight from Democratic opponent John Messer. Both had enough signatures to make it through until September, despite allegations from Messer’s camp saying Stavisky submitted fraudulent signatures. The winner will take on Republican candidate J.D. Kim.

Braunstein is looking at an uncontested re-election if the Queens County Republican Party declines to file an appeal on behalf of Whalen-Nelson. GOP chair Phil Ragusa said the County was considering the move but was not yet sure.

“We don’t want to disenfranchise the voters of the 26th Assembly district,” Ragusa said. “In an election, you should have both parties represented.”

Whalen-Nelson was seeking to run as a substitute for Tim Furey, a candidate who originally planned on taking on the incumbent but later declined the line, Ragusa said.

Furey, who had unsuccessfully tried to unseat Assemblymember David Weprin in the 24th District in 2010, was not the first this year to bow out of the 26th District race despite being backed by the Queens GOP.

The GOP originally pushed to pit Ralph Cefalo against Braunstein, but the Malba resident ultimately chose not to enter the race, citing personal matters, Ragusa said back in June.

But the County chair said declinations were nothing new.

“There’s a time to decline. This isn’t the first time this happened. It’s how Joe Crowley became the congressman. It’s done all the time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Scandalios lambasted the “forces against him” — opponent Yen Chou, the Queens County Democratic Party and the BOE — for throwing him off the ballot.

The former comic book store owner said the BOE gave him “false information” while he fought objections from the Queens Democrats and “corrupt data” by BOE clerks.

Scandalios can appear on the ballot in the general election if he runs on another line and gathers 1,500 signatures from within the district by August 26, according to the BOE.

“Eventually, I will be elected,” Scandalios said.

John Messer kicks off campaign against state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo by Lev Radin

An Oakland Gardens attorney officially launched his second try at defeating a nearly 13-year State Senate incumbent, hoping a newly-redrawn majority Asian district and a one-on-one primary will give him a leg up this time around.

John Messer, 42, pointed out that since the new 16th District, which is now 53 percent Asian, no longer includes Bay Terrace — an area that voted largely for State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky in a primary race two years ago — he foresees a more level playing field. He also expects this year’s two-way battle to bode well in his favor.

“Everybody knows that when you bring more people into a race and you divide the vote, it gives an opportunity for an incumbent to win even though they don’t have a majority of the votes,” Messer said.

Stavisky won a three-way 2010 primary challenge against Messer and Isaac Sasson, a retired professor and cancer researcher, with 45 percent of the vote. Sasson is now supporting Messer, who rallied supporters at his July 22 campaign kickoff at the Flushing Mall.

“We hear the same thing over and over again,” said Messer, who has thrown in $351,000 of his own money to the campaign. “Voters of this district want change. Nothing I believed in two years ago has changed.”

Messer accused Stavisky of never hiring an Asian staffer in her dozen years as Flushing’s senator while pointing to his own two Asian campaign co-chairs, as well as his Chinese wife and three kids.

But Stavisky’s spokesperson, Josh Goodman, said the claims were false. The incumbent senator, he said, has had Asian-American staffers over the years, as well as Chinese and Korean language services available at her Flushing district office.

“Anybody in the community can always get help from Senator Stavisky regardless of her ethnic background and linguistic issues,” Goodman said. “I think it’s a little insulting of Mr. Messer to suggest she doesn’t understand a community that she serves so well.”

Stavisky — the first woman from Queens elected to the State Senate — has the backing of every Asian elected official in the city, Goodman said, as well as the Queens County Democratic Party and both U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer.

The winner of the September 13 Democratic primary will take on Republican candidate J.D. Kim.