14 candidates jockey for north Queens Council seats

By Stephen Stirling

Fund−raising leaders have begun to emerge in the races for northern Queens’ four City Council seats up for grabs this November, city Campaign Finance Board records show following a March 16 filing deadline.

In northeast Queens, Councilmen John Liu (D−Flushing), Tony Avella (D−Bayside) and David Weprin (D−Hollis) have each announced campaigns for citywide office, leaving their seats open for the taking. So far, 14 candidates have registered their bids to do just that.

With Liu recently launching a campaign to become the next city comptroller, four candidates have currently declared their intentions for the 20th District seat, which primarily covers Flushing, Kissena Park, Queensboro Hill and Mitchell Gardens.

The board said education advocate and community organizer Yen Chou has distanced herself from her opponents in the race to replace Liu, raising nearly $100,000 since January. Chou has brought in $164,205 for the race thus far, outpacing Constantine Kavadas, who has raised a total of $30,840.

Democratic District Leader James Wu has $25,290 in his campaign coffers. Holly Civic Association President Isaac Sasson has also jumped into the race for Liu’s seat and has $5,000 on hand, according to the board.

Councilman Weprin, who has served the communities of Hollis, Queens Village, Little Neck, Douglaston, Glen Oaks and Bellerose since 2001, will also be contending for the city comptroller’s seat. Community Board 13 member Swaranjit Singh continues a strong campaign for Weprin’s 23rd District seat, having raised $110,369 through mid−March, according to the board. Longtime community activist Bob Friedrich is also running for Weprin’s seat and has raised $44,783 through March 15, the board said.

State Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D−Little Neck) has registered a campaign for his brother’s seat with the Campaign Finance Board as well, but as of the latest filing deadline had not raised any money.

The race for the 19th Council District seat, currently held by Avella, has by far fielded the most candidates, with five Democrats and two Republicans already registered for the race. Paul Vallone, Jerry Iannece, Debra Markell, Steven Behar and Tom Cooke will compete for the Democratic ticket, while Republicans currently in the running include Dan Halloran and Joseph Gravagna.

The 19th Council District covers the neighborhoods of Bayside, Whitestone, College Point, Beechhurst, Bay Terrace and parts of Little Neck, Douglaston and Flushing.

Vallone, whose brother Peter is already a councilman for the 22nd District, leads the pack through mid−March, having raised $95,568, according to the board. Behind Vallone are Ianecce, with $59,855; Markell, with $38,210; Behar, with $15,330; and Cooke, with $440, campaign filings show.

Neither Republican candidate has raised nor spent any money in the race, even though each is listed with the board as candidates.

The 24th Council District seat now held by James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows) will also be available, but challengers face an uphill battle as the two−term incumbent’s former communications director Shams Tarek recently told TimesLedger that he will seek a third term.

Nonetheless, Michael Simanowitz, Martha Taylor and Dilip Nath are operating active campaigns for the seat, which covers the communities of Kew Gardens Hills Briarwood, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest and Jamaica Estates, according to filings with the CFB.

Simanowitz, chief of staff for state Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D−Flushing), leads the pack of active fund−raisers with more than $68,950 through mid−March, according to the CFB.

Campaign filings show Taylor has raised $32,108 thus far, vastly outpacing Nath, who has raised just $6,429.

For more information on campaign finance disclosure reports, visit nyccfb.info.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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