By Phil Corso
Four City Council races involving 11 candidates will be on the ballot in northeast Queens on Election Day, setting the stage for a potentially different political landscape by year’s end.
The race to replace City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) evolved into the hottest of the three as it was one of two that will bring a new member into the Council along with a campaign for the seat of outgoing City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows). The other two races for the posts of City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) have Democratic incumbents defending their seats.
In the 20th District, Democratic incumbent Koo faces three opponents: Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou, Republican Sunny Hahn and Jobs & Education candidate Martha Flores-Vazquez.
Koo, who was initially elected to the seat as a Republican in 2009, has collected experience on various Council committees throughout his time in office, including Aging, Land Use, Small Business, Transportation and Youth Services. Hahn, the incumbent’s Republican challenger, stepped into the race to fight against widespread development throughout the district, which includes Auburndale, Flushing and parts of Whitestone.
Chou, on the other hand, has consistently run his Green Party candidacy on issues of health and the environment.
Koo led all the candidates in fund-raising throughout the campaign and also withheld the advantage that comes with being a Democratic incumbent in a blue district.
The 22nd District race unfolded quickly over the summer, mostly over one particular issue. Weprin did not have an opponent in this year’s general election until he took a stance against the city Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, joining along with a majority of Council members to vote against the practice.
Weprin was first elected to the Council in 2009 and previously served as a member of the state Assembly as well.
In reaction to that vote, Reform Party challenger Joseph Concannon threw his hat into the ring with hopes of standing up for the NYPD, given his previous role as a captain within the department. Concannon ran and lost last year as a Republican vying for the seat currently held by Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and based this year’s Council run on much of the same priorities, with public safety at the top.
The 24th District, which includes Flushing, Fresh Meadows and Jamaica, will get a new Council member since term-limited incumbent Gennaro will not be returning. Former state Assemblyman and Congressional hopeful Rory Lancman stepped up as the Democratic favorite for the seat and will face off in the election against Republican Alexander Blishteyn and Faith and Values candidate Mujib U. Rahman.
As for the 19th District, which represents neighborhoods including Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck and Whitestone, the incumbent Halloran announced he would not be seeking re-election after his April 2 arrest. Halloran was accused in a federal indictment of soliciting bribes to help get state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) into this year’s mayoral race as a Republican.
Democratic Party-backed Paul Vallone, an attorney from Flushing, won a five-way primary in September and will face off against the GOP-backed attorney from Douglaston, Dennis Saffran, for the spot.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.