By Anna Gustafson
What’s in a name? According to some people who are and were running for the 23rd Council District, a lot.
Several former candidates for the seat dropped out of the race once they heard state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (Dâˆ’Little Neck) had decided to leave his position in Albany, once held by his father, and make a bid for the seat currently held by his brother, David Weprin (Dâˆ’Hollis).
But while Mark Weprin has a wellâˆ’known name, his remaining opponents — Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich and Bellerose resident Swaranjit Singh — said they do not plan to change how they have been running their campaigns because of the assemblyman’s entrance into the race.
“Mark Weprin is going to lose,” said Singh, a member of Community Board 13. “We do not live in a monarchy, and you cannot win just on your name. Indians and Pakistanis, South Asians who live in this area, are especially concerned about nepotism because it happens in the countries where they lived.”
Mark Weprin disputes any notion that he would win based on his name and said in an interview last week that he believes residents will vote for him based on his record in Albany.
“The dynasty argument is weak,” Weprin said. “I’m not running on my name. I’ve served 15 years in this community, and I’m not just a known entity because of my name. I’m known because of my service. I’ve never asked anyone to vote for me because of my last name.”
Opponents who dropped out of the race said the Weprin name does hold a lot of political sway in an area that has been represented by Mark Weprin for the past 15 years; his father, Saul Weprin, who held Mark Weprin’s seat before him and ascended to speaker before his death; and his brother, David Weprin.
The district covers Fresh Meadows, Queens Village, Little Neck, Hollis Hills, Douglaston, Bayside, Bellerose, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Park Gardens and Holliswood.
David Weprin is now running for city comptroller and said he will remain in that race, provided current Comptroller Bill Thompson does not leave the mayoral race and make another run for his current position.
“Since Mark is not giving up his seat to run for the Council, electing Bob Friedrich would mean that Mark Weprin still keeps his Assembly seat, creating a team of experience and talent,” Friedrich said. “Having Bob Friedrich and Mark Weprin is really the best of both worlds and makes for a formidable team.”
Mark Weprin said he can now best serve his community as a councilman because he wants to focus on local education and senior issues he contended are best dealt with at the Council level.
Though Hollis Hills resident Dale Nussbaum had indicated to Mark Weprin that she was thinking about dropping out of the race, the director of special events at Queens College said she plans to remain in the race, at least for now.
“Dale said it would be political malpractice to say what her plans are now,” said Michael Tobman, a spokesman for Nussbaum.
Nussbaum too has said she would focus on education if elected to the City Council.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by eâˆ’mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 174.