By Mark Hallum
About 40 people have announced their intention to run for City Council in the upcoming Queens elections, with all but one incumbent seeing another term. The one seat being left vacant by Julissa Ferraras-Copeland has triggered a heated race for the East Elmhurst post.
Records from the city’s Campaign Finance Board show many candidates are hoping to try their hand at improving their communities through government by filing candidate certifications prior to final petition submissions. Party affiliations were not made clear in the CFB records.
In the 19th District, stretching from College Point to Little Neck, Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) will face his 2013 Democratic primary opponent Paul Graziano, a community activist and land use expert responsible for getting Bayside placed on the National Register of Historic Places. He currently serves as the treasurer of the Bayside Historical Society.
“I’m most well-known for dealing with land use issues,” Graziano said, explaining how quality-of-life challenges with illegal conversions and zoning violations are at the forefront of his priorities.”
Vallone, who has emphasized education, has been endorsed by the United Federation of Teachers for the funds he has allocated to schools in his district for improvements to studies and facilities.
Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) in the 20th District, covering downtown Flushing and Murray Hill, is looking at an unexpected Democratic primary challenge from Alison Tan , the wife of Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), who has engaged in an alliance between himself, Koo and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing).
Koo will also contend with Democrat, Issar Faradi.
Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) is looking to take over the soon-to-be vacated seat of Councilwoman Ferraras-Copeland after she announced June 1 she would not run for re-election because she intends to put her family above a third term. Ferraras-Copeland was the first Latina elected official in Queens and has been considered a front-runner to Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) title as Council speaker.
Ferreras-Copeland serves the 21st District, stretching from LaGuardia Airport in the north to Corona in the south.
Hiram Monserrate is also competing for the open seat, but his candidacy is controversial after he was expelled from the state Senate in 2010 after assaulting his girlfriend, Karla Girado. He also served 24 months for mail fraud.
Christina Furlong, co-founder of street safety advocacy group Make Queens Safer, will also run for Ferreras-Copeland’s seat. Yonel Letellier Sosa, president of the Association of Latin American Leaders and former president of the New Visions Democratic Club, and Erycka Montoya will also run.
Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association President Kenneth Wynder is looking to depose Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), who serves the 22nd District, running from Astoria to East Elmhurst, according to records from the city Campaign Finance Board.
Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) is facing a challenge from Queens County Republican Club leader Joseph Concannon, an outspoken voice for the conservative demographic in the eastern part of the borough and an opponent of Grodenchik’s predecessor, Mark Weprin, in 2013.
The 23rd District where Grodenchik serves stretches from New Hyde Park to Oakland Gardens.
Department of Education paraprofessional Montell Moseley and Jamaica Muslim Center President Mohammad Rahman will square off against Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest), who has publicly discussed running for mayor and is listed on the CFB website as “undeclared” as to which seat he has his sights on for the 2017 election. Lancman serves the 24th District, covering Rego Park to Jamaica Estates.
At this point, Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) will be going unchallenged in the race for the 25th District, from Woodside to Corona.
Founder of the Woodside Neighborhood Association David Rosasco and Republican Marvin Jeffcoat will take on Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
“I’m a progressive fighter and I’ve worked as hard as I can for the last eight years to deliver results and build great neighborhoods,” Van Bramer said. “This includes record-low crime, funding and building 12 new schools, adding thousands of pre-K and K seats, upgrading our parks and libraries, and focusing on quality of life concerns of my constituents.”
The 26th District, where Van Bramer serves, covers Long Island City to Woodside.
Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) in the 27th District, covering Rosedale to St. Albans, will run against Frank Francois, Rupert Green and Anthony Rivers.
Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica), who was arrested in 2014 on charges of corruption and is still awaiting trial, is being challenged by Christina Winslow, Hettie Powell, Allan Jennings and David Richard. Wills’ coverage area, the 28th District, serves South Ozone Park to Jamaica.
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) will be unchallenged in the 29th District, from Forest Hills to Maspeth.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) will likely have her hands full with Juniper Park Civic Association President Bob Holden, a fellow Democrat and outspoken opponent of her performance in government. Holden is also one of the leaders of protests against the city’s plan to convert the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express into a homeless shelter. The 30th District goes from Woodhaven up to Middle Village.
Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) will compete against Derek Hamilton for the 31st District stretching from Arverne to Springfield Gardens.
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) is facing transportation activist and Democrat Michael Scala, as well as Helal Sheikh, William Ruiz, Jay Rivera and Daniel Guarino in the 32nd District covering Breezy Point to Woodhaven.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall