Political season starts up with candidates night, fund−raiser

By Dee Richard

As predicted, now that the holidays are over, the political games have begun in earnest. I live and work in the 19th Council, 26th Assembly and 11th Senate districts and in just this one, small sector, things have started to take off.

At the Northeast Queens Republican Club’s April meeting, the guest speaker was Tom Ognibene, who insisted he wasn’t running for mayor, but would consider it if pressed to. To those in the audience, it sure sounded like a pitch for an endorsement, but for now we’ll accept what the man said. The lone Republican candidate for the 19th Council District was there: Dan “The Man” Halloran!

Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, called a special meeting about a proposed new church in their community, which they believe isn’t appropriate for this particular location. While they didn’t speak, most of the local candidates, sensing an important issue and a possible photo op, attended the meeting. In attendance were Debbie Markell, Halloran, Tom Cooke, Jerry Iannece, Steve Behar and Kevin Kim. The EBHA is an active group. Skala wouldn’t let it be otherwise.

The East Flushing Civic Association held its April monthly meeting, mainly to discuss local issues, but political types — Halloran running for the 19th Council seat and Yen Chou running for the 20th Council seat — were present, along with one of our most seasoned politicos, Julia Harrison. That woman is a prototype for the Energizer Bunny.

Terence Park’s Flushing Political Coalition Democratic Club held a “meet the candidates night” at the Reception House in Flushing. All our dedicated wannabe Council people showed up with bells on. Did you guys ever consider the possibility of carpooling? You all show up at the same time and places. It’d be cost effective and the environmentalists would love you. You could help save the planet.

I don’t want to be responsible for making your eyes glaze over by repeating the candidate’s names again, but as they were there, they must be mentioned: Behar, Cooke, Halloran, Kim, Iannece and Markell.

Paul Vallone, also a candidate for the 19th Council seat, wasn’t present at the EBHA meeting or Flushing coalition’s candidates night. I hope he’s OK and hope to see him soon on the campaign trail.

Markell held a fund−raising event at the Courtyard by Marriott across from LaGuardia Airport. It was a nice, well−attended affair. I had a chance to chat for a while with some supporters. They were Claire Shulman, Dolly DeThomas, Danny Dromm, Cathy Giuliani and Joann Ariola. There were many others I’d have liked to have networked with, but wasn’t able to due to time constraints.

All of the above were local events, but it’s beginning to happen all over Queens. This is definitely not going to be a slow, boring political season, judging by the kickoffs for a small local area of Queens. Now wouldn’t it be lovely if our electeds exercised as much due diligence in doing the people’s business as they apply toward getting elected or re−elected? Oh, well, we can dream, can’t we?

Seriously, the folks in the 19th Council District have a problem: They have so many viable candidates to choose from. As Halloran is the lone Republican in the race, he’ll survive since he has no opponent and no primary, but out of six solid Democrats, how do the voters choose? Which is worse: not having a single decent candidate to vote for or so many that confusion reigns?

I guess you, the voter, must decide which issues are of primary importance and go with the candidate who seems best able to meet those needs. Lots of luck in your choice. Once you decide, try and volunteer for your candidate, as all candidates can use as much help as they can get and, of course, make sure you vote.

Congratulations to Grace Meng, who’s going to have another baby in September. Good luck, mommy and baby. Her first son was at the Flushing Political Coalition meeting and was as good as gold. I can’t get over how big he’s gotten. It’s always nice to hear some happy news, as there is too much of the other kind.

That’s it for this week.

I look forward to hearing from you with information on people, parties and politics or gossip.

I like receiving your voice mails at 718−767−6484, faxes at 718−746−0066 and e−mails at deerrichard@aol.com.

Till next week, Dee.

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