By Anna Gustafson
State Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D−Little Neck) said he plans to run for the 23rd City Council District seat currently held by his brother, David Weprin (D−Hollis), who is making a bid for city comptroller.
“Assuming the seat opens up, which it looks like it will, I’m interested in running for it,” Mark Weprin said in an interview Monday.
The 23rd Council District covers Fresh Meadows, Queens Village, Little Neck, Hollis Hills, Douglaston, Bayside, Bellerose, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, New Hyde Park, Hollis, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, and Douglaston.
David Weprin said that despite the Council’s vote to extend term limits for another four years, he will remain in the race for comptroller, provided Comptroller Bill Thompson does not drop out of the mayoral race and make another run for his current position.
Mark Weprin, a former lawyer who was elected to the Assembly in a special election in 1994 to fill the seat left vacant by the death of his father, Speaker Saul Weprin, said he had been contemplating running for the Council for the past couple of months.
“I think I can deliver on a lot of issues we care about locally,” Mark Weprin said. “I’ve been one of the leading advocates for education, and in specific for District 26. Two of the issues most important to me are education and senior citizen programs.”
Mark Weprin has two children in District 26 schools, one in seventh grade and the other in fourth grade.
Bob Friedrich, a candidate for the 23rd Council seat and president of the Glen Oaks co−op, criticized Weprin’s decision to throw his hat in the ring.
“Politics is not a family business and City Council seats are not inherited,” Friedrich said. “…By electing Bob Friedrich as councilman, they keep Mark Weprin as assemblyman. It’s that simple. It’s like having your cake and eating it, too.”
Mark Weprin said he is “not running on my name.”
“I’ve served 15 years in the community, and I’m not just a known entity because of my name,” he said. “I’m known hopefully because of my service.”
Mark Weprin called Friedrich a “good guy” and a “credible candidate for City Council.”
Bryan Rivera, who had been making a bid for the 23rd Council seat and works in Mark Weprin’s office, said he is dropping out of the race now that Mark Weprin has decided to run. Queens College Special Events Director Dale Nussbaum also indicated to Weprin that she plans to drop out of the race in order to support him. Nussbaum was unavailable for comment.
Dave Kerpen, a Little Neck resident, has not officially pulled out of the race, but said he plans to do so.
“As much as I want to serve, it would be unethical to run a race I didn’t truly believe I could win. Therefore, I wish Mark well and hope to be able to serve our city or state in another capacity,” said Kerpen, who had fund−raised $30,000.
“Dave Kerpen has a real future in politics,” Weprin said.
Kerpen said he may look to run for Mark Weprin’s Assembly seat in a special election should Weprin become a councilman.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.