By Nathan Duke
For Jerry Iannece, getting elected as the new councilman for District 19 is a matter of unfinished business.
Iannece, who was reâˆ’elected as Community Board 11’s chairman earlier this month, has long been active in community service through his work with the Bayside Hills Civic Association, CB 11, the Bayside Business Improvement District and the Federation of Italian American Organizations of Queens.
As a councilman, he would be able to see to fruition a number of projects on which he began working as a civic leader and community board member.
“I want to finish what I started,” said Iannece, who is a Democrat. “There hasn’t been a community issue over the course of the past 15 years in which I haven’t played a part. I’m a proven commodity. I’ve done everything one can do as a volunteer, a civic leader, an active Little League parent and chairman of a community board. I’m not looking at this as a job opportunity, but as the opportunity to do a job I’ve already done for 20 years.”
Iannece, a Bayside lawyer and former assistant district attorney, will be one of six contenders vying for Councilman Tony Avella’s (Dâˆ’Bayside) seat this fall. The other contenders include Republican Dan Halloran and Democrats Paul Vallone, Debra Markell, Steven Behar and Tom Cooke. Republican Joseph Gravagna recently dropped out of the race.
Avella, first elected in 2001 and who has opposed extending term limits, is currently running in the mayoral race against Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He has said he will not seek a third term as councilman of District 19, which covers Bayside, Auburndale, Little Neck, Oakland Gardens, College Point, Douglaston, East Flushing, Whitestone and Malba.
Iannece, who ran for the seat in 1997 and 2001, has raised a total $59,955 and spent $9,432, according to campaign finance records.
Iannece was elected as chairman of CB 11 in 2002 and was term limited out in 2007. Steve Newman, who took over as chairman of the board in 2007, decided not to run for another term this year and Iannece was reâˆ’elected as the board’s leader in early April.
If he wins the Council race, Iannece said his CB 11 leadership role would go to Christine Haider, the board’s first vice chairwoman.
He said key issues in the district on which he will focus during his campaign include further rezoning of northeast Queens, revamping the Little Neckâˆ’Douglaston Library, addressing safety issues at Bayside’s Fort Totten after the FDNY turned security at the site over to the 109th Precinct and completing a ravine project at Oakland Lake that would clean up its ecosystem.
A longâˆ’awaited project that would rezone North Flushing and Bayside is currently in the works. Iannece said he would like to continue rezoning communities in the district, including Oakland Gardens, Hollis Hills and Auburndale.
He also plans to ensure that the city budget allocates enough money for his district amid the current economic crisis.
“We want our fair share of the pie,” he said. “We have the best school district. But how long will it be before we are not the best if we’re getting less money from the city? And crime is down throughout the entire city, but the 111th Precinct is doing its best with less. I want to allow them to do an even better job. The city thinks because northeast Queens has so much that we can fend for ourselves.”
Iannece said he would also focus on preventing College Point from receiving the brunt of businesses relocated from Willets Point amid the massive redevelopment project that is planned for the business community.
Although he did not directly criticize any of the other contenders for Avella’s seat, he said he believed his years of work as a community activist made him more qualified for the position.
“I’m sure my opponents are nice people, but some of them just walked into this community a few years ago,” he said. “I’ve known the issues here for years.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by eâˆ’mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 156.