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.