By William Lewis
During the last seven years, the 32nd City Council District had been represented by Joseph Addabbo (Dâˆ’Howard Beach), who now has been elevated to the state Senate as a result of defeating former Republican Sen. Serf Maltese in the fall election in the 15th Senate District. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called a special election for Feb. 24 to fill the vacancy now that Addabbo is in the Senate.
There is no shortage of candidates to fill this Council seat. On the Democratic side, four potential candidates have indicated their intent to run, including Frank Galluscio, a former member of Addabbo’s Council staff who has been endorsed by Addabbo.
The Republicans are fielding Eric Ulrich as their candidate. Ulrich, 23, would, if successful, be the youngest member of the Council ever elected. He has been a community activist in this district, which includes Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Hamilton Beach, Broad Channel, the Rockaways and parts of Richmond Hill and Woodhaven.
He is currently president of the Our Neighbors Civic Association in Ozone Park, one of the largest civics in the district. This position gives him a strong community base in his quest for elected office. Ulrich is also the Republican district leader of the 23rd Assembly District. He won that position in a Republican Party primary last year by a decisive margin.
This special election will not be held according to political party designation. Each candidate will be listed on the ballot by their own political party name. Ulrich is calling his party “The People First Party.”
“The community would benefit from my election. I will fight to maintain city services for my district and also see to it that our quality of life is not changed,” he said.
He intends to concentrate on police effectiveness, with attention paid to getting illegal handguns off the streets. Ulrich also wants to maintain the level of sanitation efforts and work toward improving parks with more playgrounds.
Besides having Republican county organizational support, Ulrich also is now being supported by most of the Republican insurgents who supported his opponent in the district leader primary last year.
There is one other Republican candidate possibly in the race: Mike Ricatto. It is unclear if he will be a viable candidate, given the recent tragedy concerning his campaign bus driven by one of his campaign workers being involved in a fatal accident.
This Council district, up until seven years ago, was represented by Republicanâˆ’Conservative Al Stabile, who was termâˆ’limited out of office in 2001. In fact, years earlier Stabile had defeated Addabbo in an election for that seat. With the Democratic vote being split between four candidates, it improves the chances for a Republican to prevail. But in the middle of winter in a special election with campaign matching funds available, anything can happen.
The Democratic county organization has not as yet officially endorsed any of its four candidates.
The victor in the special election will serve out the rest of the 2009 term. A regular election will be held in the fall in conjunction with the other Council races. These races will be conducted according to regular political party designation, with party primaries preceding them in September. The winners of the fall Council general elections will then have a fourâˆ’year term of office. In terms of the district, whoever wins the seat Feb. 24 must run again a few months later for the same office.
It will be interesting to see how the race for mayor this fall will affect the Council campaigns. During the recently held 2008 elections in Queens, Bloomberg endorsed two Republican candidates for state Senate: incumbents Frank Padavan of Bellerose and Serf Maltese.
The question arises: Will Bloomberg endorse a candidate in this special election in the district? A lot of attention will be paid to the 32nd Council District as we approach the special election.