New Dem seeks Gallagher’s seat – QNS.com

New Dem seeks Gallagher’s seat

By Nathan Duke

Democrat John Seminerio, son of state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill), has thrown his hat into the crowded race to replace former Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village).

Seminerio's entry into the race follows Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement last week that a special election would be held in the district on June 3, giving candidates until the end of the month to file petitions.

Gallagher resigned from office Friday as part of a plea deal that would keep him out of prison and off the sex offender's registry after he was charged with sexually abusing a 52-year-old woman at his Middle Village district office in July.

The special election to fill Gallagher's seat, which will remain empty for two months, will be held on June 3, a spokeswoman for the Elections Board said. But the winner of the race would not likely take office until the end of June, she said.

Candidates must file petitions with 2,700 signatures by April 30 to get on the ballot, according to the Elections Board.

The candidate who wins the seat will fulfill Gallagher's duties for the remainder of the year and another election will be held in November to determine who will fill the seat in 2009, the spokeswoman said. A third election will be held in November 2009 and the winner will serve for two years, she said.

If a candidate wins all three elections, he or she could run for one more four-year term in 2011, the spokeswoman said.

Seminerio, an attorney from Woodhaven, announced last week that he was entering the race because he felt his side of District 30, including slivers of Rego Park and Woodhaven, were not being represented by the current crop of candidates, most of whom are from Glendale or Middle Village.

His father celebrated his 30th anniversary as a legislator in March at fund-raising dinner in Ozone Park. At that dinner, John Seminerio said that his father's critics have called him a “Republican in Democratic clothing.”

Other candidates vying for Gallagher's seat include Democrats Elizabeth Crowley, a cousin of U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) who previously ran against Gallagher in 2001, and Charles Ober, first vice president of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association.

The Republicans in the race include Anthony Como, a commissioner with the city's Elections Board and aide to state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale); Thomas Ognibene, a 2005 mayoral candidate who held Gallagher's seat for 10 years; and Joseph Suraci, a Middle Village attorney who ran against state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood).

Democrat Michael Mascetti, a Middle Village resident who formed a non-profit group that tutors low-income children, dropped out of the race earlier this month.

Under city election law, candidates cannot run on party affiliation in a special election because there will not be enough time for primaries to be held, the Elections Board spokeswoman said.

Glendale's Saint Pancras School will host a candidates night on May 7, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the school's auditorium, at 68-20 Myrtle Ave. Questions for the candidates must be submitted to the school's office by the end of the month.

The event will be moderated by Community Board 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri and school spokeswoman Cathy Murawski.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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