Candidates line up to replace Councilman Comrie

Candidates line up to replace Councilman Comrie
Photos by Steven Malecki and Christina Santucci and courtesy the candidates
By Rich Bockmann

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) will be term-limited out of office at the end of the year after representing St. Albans, Hollis, Cambria Heights and Jamaica for the last 12 years, and a bevy of candidates have lined up to take his place.

Community Board 13 Chairman Bryan Block, state Assembly staffer Manny Caughman, attorney Joan Flowers, accountant Joseph Marthone, union leader I. Daneek Miller and management consultant Sondra Peeden are all vying to represent the 27th Council District.

Caughman, 74, sits on CB 12, is a member of the Guy R. Brewer Democratic Club and works as a community liaison in Assemblyman William Scarborough’s (D-St. Albans) office, where he has worked to address flooding and other environmental issues in southeast Queens.

“I was more or less encouraged by the community,” he said of his decision to join the race. “I’ve worked on so many different committees I know most of the issues and the community has confidence in me.”

Caughman has been endorsed by Democratic District Leaders Archie and Leslie Spigner, Bishop Charles Norris and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica).

Flowers, 65, got her start as a public defender in Queens and has ties to several southeast Queens politicians. She served as the campaign treasurer for U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) and as counsel to the state Senate majority conference when Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) was president of the upper chamber. Flowers resigned from that position when federal prosecutors began probing the accounting practices of a nonprofit she created with Meeks and Smith.

“I’m a forward-thinking person, and thinking about the district’s longterm goals, I feel what we need to be doing is reaching out to the future rather than clinging to the past,” she said.

Miller, 52, is president of the Amalgamated Transportation Union’s Local 1056, which represents Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus drivers and mechanics working in Queens. He has picked up a long list of labor endorsements, including the Communication Workers of America District 1, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators Local 1, 1199/SEIU, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, Teamsters Local 808, Uniformed Fire Officers Association, United Federation of Teachers, Working Families Party and 32BJ.

Miller said he got into the race after he was asked to do so by Comrie, but the councilman said he “encouraged” Miller and others to run but was considering if and when to make an endorsement in the race.

Miller said his background building coalitions makes him the best candidate to deliver resources for the district.

“Quite frankly, if there was someone out there we believe represented people in the community the way they should be, I would be happy being part of that team,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, that candidate’s not out there.”

Peeden worked for late Council members Juanita Watkins and Tom White Jr. as well as former City Councilman David Weprin. She started her own management consulting firm and works part-time in Councilman Ruben Wills’ (D-Jamaica) office.

“As an African-American woman who’s 41 years old, I have the experience and perspective to bring something different,” she said.

Neither Block nor Marthone responded to requests for comment.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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