By Phil Corso
The man defeated by now embattled City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) squashed rumors that he would enter the race again this year as the crowded field of contenders produced a new round of political endorsements for some of the players.
Kevin Kim, who ran for northeast Queens’ 19th District seat against Halloran in 2009, announced he would not be joining the growing list of Democrats vying for the seat despite reports he was considering a campaign.
“Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the outpouring of support I received from so many people in the community,” said Kim, a Manhattan resident. “I will continue to actively and vigorously participate in advocacy efforts that are in the best interest of the community as a whole.”
While Kim ultimately opted out of the race, a handful of Democrats continued to battle it out for a spot on the ballot in November, including Douglaston attorney John Duane; Flushing urban planning consultant Paul Graziano; Austin Shafran, a Bayside native and former government spokesman for the Empire State Development Authority; party-backed Flushing attorney Paul Vallone; and former Halloran Chief of Staff Chrissy Voskerichian of Flushing.
On the other side of the aisle, GOP-backed Douglaston attorney Dennis Saffran has also been scheduling campaign fund-raisers regularly with hopes of holding onto the Republican district.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) announced his support last week for Graziano, a longtime friend who he worked alongside over various issues facing northeast Queens.
“Whenever there’s a zoning issue – no matter where it is, whether it’s Queens or some other borough – I call upon Paul and he always takes time out to look at the plans, give me suggestions and also work with the civic groups,” Avella said. “Irrespective of him working with me, he’s worked with, I think, almost every civic group in the borough. They all know him, they all like him, they all support him. He will be a great council member.”
One day earlier, new state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) publicly endorsed Vallone for the seat because of his support as a friend and community leader when Kim ran for public office. In his statement, Kim referred to Vallone as a “clear choice” for the Korean community.
“The Korean community is no longer an emerging voting bloc,” Vallone said, “but a proud and fortified constituency that deserves to be heard and represented by a Council member who understands their needs and whose door is always open.”
Saffran held a fund-raiser over the weekend in Douglaston in which former Sen. Frank Padavan offered his endorsement for the party-backed Republican.
“Dennis is passionately committed to preserving the quality of life in our city and in the neighborhoods of northeast Queens and will fight for these communities in the City Council in the same way I did in Albany,” Padavan said.
Shafran’s campaign, which has been leading all candidates in fund-raising, has already announced support from various labor groups, including 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers East, the Working Families Party and the Hotel Trades Council.
Duane’s campaign also announced support from the Stonewall Democrats, the LGBT advocacy group, and the Brooklyn-Queens National Organization for Women. The former assemblyman touted his crucial votes in favor of gay rights and women’s reproductive rights during his last stint in public office.
The winner will go on to replace Halloran, who was arrested in April and charged with using bribery to try and inject Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) onto the GOP line in the upcoming mayoral election.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.