Lynch, Najmi and Grodenchik among top City Council fundraisers

By Tom Momberg

Eight candidates have now filed petitions to with the city Board of Elections for Mark Weprin’s former City Council seat, with three hopefuls leading the pack in the amount of funds raised.

The 23rd Council District covers Bellerose, Glen Oaks, Queens Village and Oakland Gardens and some smaller eastern Queens neighborhoods.

The special election has been slated to assume a general fall election cycle: The primary election is set for Sept. 10, and the general election for Nov. 3.

All seven Democratic candidates and one Conservative contender filed preliminary finance disclosure statements with the city Campaign Finance Board by July 15.

Among those who have raised the most money for their campaigns are Rebecca Lynch with slightly more than $63,000, Ali Najmi with more than $57,000, and Barry Grodenchik with about $54,000, according to the CFB. Donation and expenditure reports will not be available until later in the election season.

The latest candidate to throw his hat into the ring is Michael Foubister, who has not reported any funds raised but did report spending slightly more that $700 in his disclosure with the CFB.

Little to no information could be found on Foubister via Internet searches or web databases, and his occupation is unknown. The TimesLedger was able to get in touch with the candidate, but he declined a request for an interview by using profanity.

Foubister was also the only candidate who did not enroll in the CFB’s matching funds program, which matches six to one with the city’s general fund, any money raised by a candidate from private city residents after the first $175 raised.

Lynch, the current deputy commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Office, reported spending about $6,000 on her campaign so far. She has already obtained several union endorsements.

Her first endorsement, the Teamsters Joint Council 16, represents 120,000 workers in downstate New York and has several members in the 23rd Council district for which Lynch is running. Her second big endorsement, 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, the largest property service workers union in the city with 17,000 members in Queens. Finally, Lynch also obtained an endorsement from the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, which represents roughly 100,000 city workers.

Najmi has far outspent his opponents, having shelled out almost $18,500 on his campaign already, according to the CFB. The Queens-based attorney and activist obtained endorsements early on from former New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout and the LGBT activist group Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club.

Grodenchik, currently the director of community boards and parks for the borough president, reported spending about $7,800 on his campaign so far. He was endorsed early on in his campaign by Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), and by former members of Congress Rev. Floyd Flake and Gary Ackerman.

More recently, Grodenchik was endorsed by the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, the main union of the FDNY, as well as by several Women leaders in Queens. Those leaders include but are not limited to Borough President Melinda Katz, Councilwomen Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).

The other three Democratic candidates are Celia Dosamantes, the current deputy chief of staff for Suffolk County Assemblyman Philip Ramos; Bob Friedrich, former City Council and state Assembly candidate and past columnist for the TimesLedger Newspapers; and Satnam Parhar of New Hyde Park, community advocate and president of the India Association of Long Island.

Dosamantes is the youngest candidate in the race for the 23rd Council District seat, and has reported no political endorsements and no funds raised or spent on her campaign finance disclosures. She said she would reveal her supporters later on in the race.

Friedrich has reported raising about $28,300 and spending $1,500 on his campaign, but had not reported any campaign endorsements so far in the race.

Parhar, the second-latest candidate to enter the race, has reported raising about $21,600, and spending almost $11,700 on his campaign, but has not yet obtained any political endorsements.

Joe Concannon, a retired NYPD commander, police advocate and the sole Conservative candidate has been endorsed by the only Republican Council member in Queens, Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), the Queens County GOP and the Queens Conservative Party. He has reported raising about $8,900 in private funds and spending about $9,600 on his campaign so far.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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