By Debbie Cohen
City Council candidate Eric Ulrich held a recent luncheon fundâˆ’raiser at Villa Russo Catering Hall in Richmond Hill to raise funds and votes for the race for the 32nd Council District seat, vacated by newly elected state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (Dâˆ’Howard Beach), which will be filled by a special election Feb. 24. On the Republican side, he is running against Mike Ricatto; on the Democratic side, he is up against Democratic District Leaders Lew Simon, Geraldine Chapey and Frank Gulliscio.
Ulrich is only 23 and some say he is too young to run for the seat, but he reminded everyone that U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (Dâˆ’Forest Hills) started his career at 22 when he ran for a council seat.
“I want to put people first before politics and I want to say to my constituents, ‘How can I help you and get the work done?’ ” Ulrich said. “Some people say that I am a nice kid, but I don’t have a shot. I want to make a fresh start and a new beginning.”
Former Councilman Tom Ognibene was urging people to go out and get signatures for Ulrich. Ulrich said that $88,500 in matching funds will be given to him by the city for mailings, advertisements and other campaign expenses. Others who offered support included Community Board 9 District Manager Maryâˆ’Ann Carey, the Ronald Reagan Republican Club of Howard Beach, Rosemary Ciullaâˆ’Frisone and others with the club.
Qualityâˆ’ofâˆ’life issues, including transportation and infrastructure, are a few of the problems Ulrich wants to try to tackle. He also wants term limits and congestion pricing, which both would improve one’s quality of life.
“I want to do what is right, Ulrich said. “I am the people’s mouthpiece and I want to place them first.”
Regardless of the accident that killed a 9âˆ’yearâˆ’old boy in Ozone Park, Mike Ricatto is back in the race to win the 32nd Council District seat. Ricatto’s campaign bus hit the boy, who died on the scene at the corner of Rockaway and Cross Bay boulevards. The driver of the campaign bus was driving with a suspended license. Ricatto took some time off after the incident and then decided to continue pursuing the seat.
Ulrich wants to also fight for smaller class sizes within the school system and wants senior services, including Meals on Wheels, to stay in force. He also wants to oppose all new tax hikes. This would include property tax relief. Ulrich wants to encourage young people to stay in New York.
People are wary of Ulrich because of his age and lack of experience in the political arena. But he seems to have a lot of persistence and enthusiasm to give it his best shot. Others say his attitude is wonderful and he should be given a chance.
“I want to try to put everyone’s interest first before politics and I want to make a difference,” he said.