Political Action: Ognibene, Crowley shape Council bids

By William Lewis

What is unusual about this special election, which will probably be scheduled forarly June, is that no political party designations will be on the ballot. It will be a non-partisan election, the type Mayor Michael Bloomberg likes, as exemplified by his initiating a citywide referendum in 2003 that attempted to eliminate political party designations from city elections. That referendum did not pass by a wide margin, even though this forthcoming special election will be non-partisan.Of the four candidates, Ognibene and Crowley have the most name recognition and are the most widely known in the Council district. The Queens Republican Party has backed Como, however. Ognibene served for 10 years in this seat from 1991-2001. During most of that time he was the Council's Republican minority leader. He was re-elected twice and term limited out of office in 2001.During his tenure, Ognibene considered among his most significant achievements obtaining school bus service for the children in the Woodhaven Co-op, which they were denied for over 10 years. He also pointed to his role in getting new police cars for the 104th Precinct and encouraging greater police presence in that part of the district.If Ognibene is re-elected, he intends to concentrate on quality of life issues, especially moving against overdevelopment. The former councilman summed up his candidacy by saying: “I believe that my past years of dedicated service to the citizens of the 30th Council District, especially as a proven leader, enables me to take office and be ready to serve on Day 1.”Outside the Council, Ognibene has experience in education by having served for 29 years as vice chairman of the board of trustees at Christ the King High School in Middle Village. Presently he is putting together his campaign organization for what is expected to be a very spirited race, beginning with the petition drive in which 2,700 valid signatures will be needed to qualify for ballot position.An important element in this petition gathering is that any registered voter, regardless of party affiliation, can sign petitions, thereby making it easier to obtain the necessary number of signatures. Ognibene, who formally announced his candidacy on March 26, is planning to have an active campaign headquarters at 79-47 Metropolitan Ave., in the heart of the 30th Council District.As for the Democratic front-runner, Elizabeth Crowley, she was unanimously endorsed by the Democratic County Executive Committee on March 28. Crowley ran for the 30th Council District seat before in 2001 and lost to Gallagher. She is more confident of success this time because she feels her campaign organization will be better prepared earlier in the campaign.Crowley holds a master's in urban planning from the Pratt Institute. She works as an education director for the Consortium for Worker Education, a non-profit adult education group that conducts free classes to help increase employment opportunities for community citizens. She also has two children in the public school system and will stress improving public education during the forthcoming campaign. If elected, Crowley indicated she will emphasize community issues, including neighborhood preservation by making efforts to have building codes enforced and stopping illegal conversions.She also mentioned the serious community problem of street and residential area flooding. She hopes to get the city government to give more priority to this growing problem. Crowley has said, “Our community is the backbone of New York City. Our people are hard working, our culture is rich and our fabric is strong.”She expects much support from the Democratic County Organization, as well as assistance from her large family. This race, however, is only the beginning, considering there will be another campaign held in the fall general election.In that election, political party designations will be listed. Next year, the 30th Council District will have another contest during the regular citywide elections. The registered voters of this district will indeed have a strong say in who will represent them. The other candidates will be featured in a future column.

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