By Joe Anuta
Paul Vallone kicked off his campaign for the City Council seat based in Bayside and Whitestone Tuesday night at Verdi’s of Whitestone.
Vallone is running for the seat currently occupied by Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone).
“There is really a lot that can be done, primarily for making schools better and safer,” Vallone said, adding that he would like to also tackle quality-of-life issues and overdevelopment in northeast Queens.
More than 200 people attended the event, according to Vallone’s staff, and guests included several members of Community Board 7, on which he serves.
The Council hopeful raked in about $25,000, although he hopes to have about $35,000 total in his coffers by the filing deadline Jan. 15, according to his staff.
Vallone thinks that the area is in need of a change.
“We are going to have to energize the community,” he said. “Dan has been there for four years, but I think we can get someone better.”
Vallone ran for the same seat in 2008, but lost in the Democratic primary. Kevin Kim beat out the rest of the field, but then went on to lose to Halloran in the general election.
According to Vallone’s brother, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), Kim won because there were two Italian Americans in the race.
In addition to Paul Vallone, CB 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece also ran in that race. Each garnered about 2,000 votes, according to Peter Vallone, which if combined would have won the primary.
“The reason why an Italian American wasn’t elected four years ago is because there were two in the race,” Peter Vallone said. “It’s that simple.”
This time around, Iannece and Paul Vallone agreed not to run against each other, according to the councilman. Paul Vallone supported Iannece’s unsuccessful run for state Assembly in September, and Iannece agreed not to run for Council, according to Peter Vallone.
But others have thrown their hats into the ring.
Matthew Silverstein, a Democratic state committeeman, has been hosting fund-raisers around the district. He hails from Bay Terrace, which consistently churns out a significant bloc of votes.
Former state Assemblyman John Duane has also formed a committee to run for the office. Duane served in the 1980s and is the brother of former Manhattan state Sen. Tom Duane, who served as an openly gay and openly HIV-positive lawmaker.
The name of Austin Shafran, who works for the state’s economic development agency Empire State Development, has also been thrown around.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.