By Howard Koplowitz
City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) endorsed each other for state Senate Sunday outside a Sikh temple which was visited by one the religion's leaders.
Addabbo, who is running against state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) in one of the most closely watched state races, said he was backing Huntley “for all the work that she has done.”
He said the first-term senator “has the respect” of the people in her district.
“The senator and myself look forward to going to all parts of the district,” he said. “We need to help everyone in the district.”
Huntley returned the compliments by endorsing Addabbo, saying she has “known the councilman for many years.”
“We'll have a chair [in the Senate] with your name on it already,” she joked.
Addabbo and Huntley stood outside the Baba Makhan Shah Lobana Sikh Center on 101st Avenue for the endorsements, where Baba Ranjit Singh, a Sikh spiritual leader, met the congregation shortly before the 2 p.m. news conference.
Gurpal Singh, a staffer for Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), said Baba Ranjit Singh is a “great speaker” who is “reviving a Sikh renaissance.”
“When he comes out, they all come out,” Gurpal Singh said.
The two elected officials then made their way inside the temple, taking off their shoes and covering their heads, where they spoke to congregants.
Mohinder Singh, the former temple president, said Addabbo and Huntley have looked after the Sikhs' interests.
“They come to our temple. They discuss with us,” he said.
“Mr. Councilman, Joe Addabbo, is not new to us,” Singh said. “I feel heavy in my heart that he has the right leadership.”
Huntley said Sikhs share the same concerns as other constituencies in her district, including housing, development and education.
She is being challenged by former City Councilman Allan Jennings, who was censured during his tenure in the Council for sexual harassment.
“I will make sure that your young people are getting the education they deserve,” Huntley said. “After the election, we will talk business.”
As both elected officials ended their remarks, congregants gave them the Sikh blessing “Bole So Nihan Sat Sira Akan,” or he who shall speak is blessed by God.
Huntley's endorsement of Addabbo comes three days after the councilman received the backing of District Council 37 Retirees, which represents 50,000 retired municipal workers, at City Hall.
The biggest boost to Addabbo's campaign came Friday, when his primary opponent, Ozone Park attorney Albert Baldeo, withdrew from the race and gave his endorsement to the councilman.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.