2 hopefuls report funds raised for Gennaro seat

By Alex Christodoulides

Only two candidates for the seat now held by Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) have disclosed the funds they have raised so far for the race even though a field of five Democrats has expressed interest in the office.

Democrat Michael Simanowitz had contributions to date of $68,950, according to his filing with the city Campaign Finance Board, while fellow Dem Martha Taylor has raised $21,364 as of July 15, the most recent deadline to file with the city.

Gennaro must give up the seat at the end of 2009 because of term limits. He is challenging incumbent state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose).

Simanowitz is currently state Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn's (D-Flushing) chief of staff, a Democratic district leader and former auxiliary police chief with the 107th Precinct. The list of his contributors includes many Jewish organizations in the five boroughs as well as Mayersohn herself, City Councilman and mayoral candidate Tony Avella (D-Bayside), state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria).

Taylor's resumé includes the vice chairmanship of Community Board 8, long experience as a Democratic district leader and work as an attorney in the office of City Comptroller William Thompson. Much of her money came from fellow CB 8 members and residents of Jamaica Estates, where she is a member of the neighborhood's civic association.

Simanowitz and Taylor are only two of the candidates interested in claiming Gennaro's seat. Also in the field of contenders are historian and former teacher Jeff Gottlieb, who was chief of staff to Gennaro's City Council predecessor Morton Povman, and Bangladeshi immigrant Dilip Nath. But neither Nath nor Gottlieb filed a campaign finance disclosure statement with the city last week.

Gottlieb ran for City Council in 2001 but bowed out of the race when the Queens County Democrats opted not to back him.

"They're not enthusiastic, but they're accepting of my run," Gottlieb said of the response from the party. "I feel I'm the best candidate for the seat."

He said he plans to file with the Campaign Finance Board later in the year or early next year, and still has a balance of about $29,000 on hand from his 2001 bid.

Hillcrest Estates Civic Association President Kevin Forrestal is seriously considering a run for the seat, also as a Democrat, but to date he has not filed anything with the city to indicate interest.

"I haven't made a final decision yet. I've just started a new job and it'll depend whether I'm able to do both well," he said, adding that he would have a better idea in the fall.

Queens County Republican Party Executive Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone said their focus right now is not on the 2009 City Council race.

"We've talked to the local district leaders and they've given us a couple of names but we probably won't talk to them or endorse anyone until after Christmas," he said.

Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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