Rivals vie for western Queens Council seats

By Jeremy Walsh

The dynamics of November’s City Council races were beginning to take shape in western Queens as candidates reported their fund−raising totals for the March 15 city Campaign Finance Board deadline.

It is unclear who will challenge Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D−East Elmhurst) in November for the District 21 seat, which includes Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. Ferreras won the seat vacated by her former boss, state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D−East Elmhurst), by more than 1,000 votes in last month’s special election.

None of the other candidates from the February contest had filed as of March 15.

In Council District 22, which encompasses Astoria and Long Island City, no opponents had yet emerged to face incumbent Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D−Astoria), who had raised $30,245 by the board’s March 15 filing deadline.

The race in District 25, which includes Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside, was in limbo, although Democratic District Leader Daniel Dromm has raised $79,072.

It was unclear if Dromm would face incumbent Councilwoman Helen Sears (D−Jackson Heights), who is remaining coy over what seat she will seek in the upcoming election. Sears had raised $110,623 by March 15.

Third in the race is Con Edison spokesman Alfonso Quiroz, Sears’ former deputy chief of staff, who had raised $62,558 by March 15. Trailing Quiroz was Jackson Heights lawyer Stanley Kalathara, who had raised $29,632 by March 15.

District 26, covering Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, also appears to be the site of a showdown between behind−the−scenes Democratic stalwarts. Democratic District Leader Deirdre Feerick had raised $46,140, putting her far ahead of Queens Library Governmental Affairs Director Jimmy Van Bramer, who had $34,205 by March 15. Trailing Van Bramer was Long Island City attorney Brent O’Leary with $29,324 and Woodside business translator David Rosasco with $3,944.

District 29, which covers Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Rego Park and parts of Maspeth and Elmhurst, has some of the most active candidates in the borough.

Leading the fund−raising was Lynn Schulman with $48,422, followed closely by Heidi Chain with $46,819. Former state Assemblyman Michael Cohen followed with $31,896, then Melquiades Gagarin with $10,841 and Joseph Nocerino with $3,415.

District 30, which covers Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village and Ridgewood, will likely host a third showdown between two front−running opponents who have traded spots since former Councilman Dennis Gallagher resigned from the seat in disgrace in 2007.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D−Middle Village), who won the post during the 2008 general election, has raised $20,325, while Anthony Como, who held the seat after a June 2008 special election but lost to Crowley a few months later, had raised $175.

In District 32, which includes Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven and part of the Rockaways, where 24−year−old Eric Ulrich won a special election in February, no one had filed by the March 15 reporting deadline, including Ulrich.

Democratic District Leader Frank Gulluscio was expected to challenge Ulrich for the seat. The next filing deadline is in July.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.