Tag Archives: Senate

WATCH: Eric Ulrich announces Senate run


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Councilmember Eric Ulrich will run for Senate in the 15th District.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich — considered a rising star in the Republican Party — has declared his intent to vie for the 15th Senate District seat.

“This was not an easy decision for me to make. I love the job that I already have, and I had every intention of running for re-election next fall,” Ulrich said in his announcement video. “But the stakes are simply too high. While I’ve been able to accomplish many good things at the local level, I believe that I can accomplish even more if the people send me to Albany.”

Ulrich, 27, was first elected to the council when he was 24. He won his 32nd District City Council seat during a Special Election in 2009, succeeding State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. — who is now considered his likely Democratic opponent.

In 2008, Addabbo defeated Serphin Maltese, a two-decade Republican incumbent, later winning Senate re-election in 2010 against Republican runner Anthony Como. Ulrich, a second-term councilmember and the youngest in the council, was also re-elected to a full term in November 2009.

According to Vincent Tabone, executive vice chair of the Queens County Republican Party, GOP officials had urged Ulrich to take on the current senator in an election for the past four years.

“Addabbo has been a real disappointment for the people in the 15th Senate District,” Tabone said. “We’re very excited that Eric is taking this step.”

Tabone said Ulrich is the only announced candidate on the Republican side so far.

Josh Cherwin, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Addabbo has been a “tireless advocate on behalf of the people he represents, which is why voters continue to return him to office by significant margins.”

“We expect the same to happen this year,” Cherwin said. “Few public servants have done more than Senator Joe Addabbo to stand up for the working families of Queens.”

Addabbo did not return calls for comment in time for press.

In December 2011, Ulrich was named chair of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in New York City.

If elected to State Senate, Ulrich said he would provide incentives for job creation by including tax cuts for small businesses and investing in his neighborhoods to encourage economic growth. His five-point plan to improve schools, he said, includes retaining the best and brightest teachers, building new schools to reduce the average class size, creating new school recreational space, strengthening communication between parents and teachers and accelerating student achievement with Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate.

“If we’re serious about revitalizing our communities, creating good paying jobs and encouraging young people like me to stay in New York, then we’ve got to lower the tax burden for homeowners and small businesses and invest in higher education so that people can compete for the jobs of the 21st Century,” Ulrich said.

The newly-redrawn 15th Senate District encompasses parts of the Rockaways, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven and extends up to Middle Village, Maspeth, Forest Hills, Ridgewood and Glendale.

New district lines ‘as bad’ as before


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


Recent revisions to district lines have done little to darn the disharmony between Republicans and Democrats.

The New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) — made up largely of Republican senators due to their current control of the chamber — released its updated district maps on March 12, angering Democrats due to the miniscule modifications made over the past month.

The new lines, which no longer couple the districts of Senators Michael Gianaris and Jose Peralta, still combine the regions of Senators Tony Avella and Toby Ann Stavisky. Slight changes were also made to the first-ever Asian American majority district created in the initial maps.

Despite their districts no longer being threatened, both Gianaris and Peralta have spoken out against the maps and are hopeful Governor Andrew Cuomo follows through on his pledge to veto any partisan proposals.

“The lines have barely changed at all,” said Gianaris, who called the pairing of himself and Peralta a harassment tactic. “The first proposal is the worst gerrymandering in the history of New York State, and the second proposal is 98 percent as bad. The real problem is the way they are dividing communities around the state and that is what has yet to be fixed. The best hope now is for the governor to veto the lines and let the court do it fairly.”

Frank Sobrino, a spokesperson for Peralta, says the situation is “bigger” than the two senators, and the new lines do not provide any progress from the initial maps, which were considered to be “blatantly partisan.”

“I want the governor to follow up on his commitment to veto these lines,” Peralta said.

Scott Reif, spokesperson for the Senate GOP and LATFOR, says he expects the maps to be approved by both the Senate and Assembly.

“We expect these to be the final lines for the Senate and Assembly,” Reif said. “We held nine additional public hearings [across the state] and we made changes from what we were hearing from different communities.”

Along with the updated maps, LATFOR also introduced legislation that would create a bipartisan commission to draw district lines, a measure many politicians have been calling for. Based on the bill, the commission would be composed of 10 members — two from each party from both the Senate and Assembly and an additional two members chosen by the initial eight.

If approved, the commission would be in charge of deciding district lines the next time they are up for revision in a decade — a length of time deemed unacceptable by many Democrats.

“That’s 10 years from now,” Sobrino said. “Each and every single Republican signed a pledge before they ran last time supporting an independent process. They didn’t say they were going to fix the situation 10 years from now. They said they were going to fix it now.”

Congressmember Turner to run for Senate


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

TURNER WINS 095w

With his seat potentially KO’d, Congressmember Bob Turner has thrown his hat into a different ring.

Turner, whose district was recommended for elimination as part of Magistrate Roanne Mann’s proposed congressional maps, announced on March 13 that he plans to run for Senate. The congressmember will seek both the Republican and Conservative nominations to challenge Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

“I ran for the House six months ago as a private citizen fed up with what is happening in Washington,” said Turner. “I could not sit and watch career politicians sink my nation deeper into economic crisis. Brooklyn and Queens voters, of all political parties, graciously responded by sending me to Congress. It now appears that their district has been eliminated. There is serious work to be done to get this economy back on track, and I will not walk away from that work now. I will run for the Senate, and I will run to win.”

Despite being “good friends” with Turner, State Conservative Party Chair Michael Long believes Wendy Long, a lawyer and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has already established herself as the favorite of the Republican Party.

“It is very sad that they cut up [Turner’s] district the way they did, but I think it is too late for him to enter this race. He came to the table too late,” he said. “[Wendy Long] has soaked up most of the energy and enthusiasm from the leaders up and down the state of New York, and it is going to be very hard at this late date for Bob to run.”

Long, who helped Turner with his congressional election last year, continued by saying he does not believe Republican leaders will switch their support to Turner. He also said Long is considered more capable of winning the seat.

“[Wendy] makes a stronger candidate against Gillibrand,” said Long. “She’s very knowledgeable and a very good debater. She was like a rock star at the fundraiser in Albany on March 12. While the title of congressmember would be helpful [to Turner], Wendy Long has the intellect and the background that fits this position.”

Senate Redistricting plan is divisive


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


Newly-drawn district lines may pit Senate Democrats against one another in a political dogfight.

Under the proposed plan, which was designed by the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) — made up largely of Republican senators due to their current control of the chamber — Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Chair Michael Gianaris would face off with Senator Jose Peralta for the right to represent a single, heavily Hispanic district.

“With this brazenly political proposal, Senate Republicans have done more to hurt the cause of fair and independent redistricting in one day than advocates like myself have done to advance the cause after years of advocacy,” Gianaris said. “Today, Senate Republicans return us to the days when Albany was the most dysfunctional capital in the nation by bringing Tom DeLay’s brand of politics to New York. The people of this state will not stand for it, and neither should we.”

Peralta echoed his senatorial partner and potential rival by calling the new lines “egregious.”

“This is a case of petty, election-year politics as arrogant as it is obvious,” Peralta said. “The pledges to redistricting reform by Republicans clearly are not worth the ink used to sign them. If they have at least minimal respect for voters, Republicans will spare New Yorkers further hypocrisy and keep to themselves ridiculous claims that their bold-faced power grab was done in the name of minority enfranchisement.”

Longtime Senator Toby Ann Stavisky would also be matched against Senator Tony Avella — who assumed office in 2011 — sparking speculation that the GOP’s goal is to maintain its slender majority in the Senate by eliminating a number of incumbent Democrats.

The GOP lines also create the Senate’s first Asian-majority district in Flushing. The plan would expand the Senate to 63 members by creating a new seat in a reportedly Republican-dominated area outside of Albany, as well.

“We believe our plan is fair, legal and it protects minority voting interests,” said Scott Reif, a spokesperson for the Senate GOP and LATFOR. “We are very proud of the fact that we create the first Asian-American majority district in Queens centered in Flushing. We also maintain or strengthen every single African-American and Hispanic district in the city. This plan is based on population shifts which occurred over the last 10 years. There are a number of incumbents who are put together in the same district, but this is not based on politics. It is based on demographics and actions that the task force took are to protect minority voting rights.”

According to Reif, nine public hearings will be held throughout the state, during which the public can offer feedback on the plan. LATFOR will hold a hearing for Queens on Tuesday, February 7 at 3 p.m. in Room 213 of Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens.

Peralta, who believes there should be an independent process and commission drawing the lines, believes the notion that the plan was designed to unite communities is preposterous.

“Republicans say it is about brining communities together, but they divided the LeFrak buildings into two districts,” said the senator. “They took the southern part of my district in Elmhurst, which is highly Asian, and they divided it into two districts. The gerrymandering is hurting people because it dilutes the power of the vote. It dilutes the ability for people to come out and choose a candidate that matches their needs.”

Various community groups have expressed outrage over the district map, due to the lines’ dissonant effects on their neighborhoods.

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) has strongly objected the plan, which divides the neighborhood among three different senators.

“LATFOR’s decision to split up a one-square-mile neighborhood among three different senators is bewildering and has no basis in the character, demographics or needs of our community,” said Alexander Blenkinsopp, WRBA’s communications director. “When it comes to the Senate lines, the people of Woodhaven are being treated as pawns in Albany’s gerrymandering games.”

According to published reports, Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to veto the plan, which he deems partisan.

Repeated attempts to contact the governor’s office went unreturned.