By Joe Anuta
The endorsements are rolling in for candidates hoping to take the place of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall after this year’s elections.
The Democratic field includes state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), businessman Everly Brown, City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), Director of Community Boards Barry Grodenchik, Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), former state Assemblywoman Melinda Katz and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria).
Peralta received backing from 32BJ last Friday, a union boasting 17,000 members in the borough, which praised Peralta’s efforts to get guns off the streets through state legislation.
“The thousands of 32BJ members who live in Queens know that we need new leadership to make sure that every child receives a great public school education, that families have a chance to succeed no matter where they come from, and that no neighborhood or borough is left behind when it comes to city services and public safety,” Peralta said.
Peralta also received the nod from a group of 15 clergy members representing Christian and Muslim houses of worship across the borough. He has also been endorsed by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan) and state Assemblyman Karim Camara (D-Brooklyn).
On Monday night, Vallone held his official kickoff party at Ovelia Restaurant in Astoria, where U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) made an appearance.
At the party, Vallone announced the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association is backing his bid for Borough Hall.
“Whether it’s been rushing to the aid of Hurricane Sandy victims, taking Con Ed to task during the blackout of 2006 or fighting to preserve the integrity of the Queensboro Bridge, Peter Vallone Jr. has stood up for what’s right since his first day in the City Council,” said Norman Seabrook, president of the association.
As TimesLedger Newspapers was going to press last week, Comrie’s campaign flatly denied that the Rev. Floyd Flake, an influential southeast Queens pastor, had endorsed Katz, despite her campaign releasing a statement March 4 that he had. Flake is the head of the 20,000-member Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York in Jamaica, and his endorsement is highly sought by candidates running for any office.
A day after Flake could not be reached for comment, he cleared up the confusion with a statement.
“Whereas I have a great deal of respect for Councilman Leroy Comrie and the work that he has done in the southeast Queens community, I hereby confirm my endorsement of Melinda Katz for the position of borough president of Queens,” he said.
The news shocked Comrie, who said that the same day Flake’s endorsement was released the pastor told him that he had not made up his mind.
“I sat with a minister who said he hadn’t made up his mind, and all week I’m having to defend that statement,” Comrie said. “It’s a learning experience.”
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.