Two Republicans from Little Neck & Whitestone launch bids for Avella’s Queens state Senate seat

SD11 challengers
Photo via simonforny/VickiePaladinoNYC

Two candidates are seeking to unseat state Senator Tony Avella as a representative of areas including Bayside, Flushing, Whitestone, Douglaston and College Point.

Simon Minching of Little Neck has announced a run for the District 11 seat. According to Board of Elections records, Minching filed with the agency on March 13. He seeks the Republican nomination.

The New York native attended Benjamin Cardozo High School in Bayside, received his bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and earned a master’s in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. He’s worked as a researcher for the United Nations Association and a senior budget analyst for Chicago’s public schools system.

Currently, Minching works in business development for Palantir Technologies, a multibillion-dollar private software and services company.

“Northeast Queens was a fantastic place to grow up, but over the last eight years politicians have ignored growing problems facing our community and our state,” Minching said in a statement. “The three pillars of my campaign are enhanced economic growth and greater affordability, ensuring quality education and reducing the overcrowding in northeast Queens’ public schools, and major ethics reform, including term limits. I am leading by example on that issue and, if elected, will self-impose a limit of no more than three terms.”

Vickie Paladino is also seeking the Republican nomination. The lifelong Whitestone resident attended Flushing High School and Saint Helena’s High School of Business. She ran a local landscaping business with her husband for three decades.

Paladino gained notoriety last summer after a confrontation with Mayor Bill de Blasio about his controversial trip to Germany to join G-20 protesters in Hamburg. The mayor was in Whitestone to announce funding to fix city sidewalks damaged by tree roots. The exchange was captured on video and covered by a number of national news outlets.

“Our quality of life is in decline,” Paladino writes on her campaign page. “Taxes are up. Cost of living skyrocketing. And our neighborhoods are becoming more and more overcrowded every day. The political establishment in Albany and City Hall do not care about us, but I do.”

Avella served in the New York City Council before he was elected to the 11th state Senate District for the first time in 2010. He is currently serving his fourth term in the seat.

Avella has been a member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of Democrats that caucus separately from other Democratic members of the state Senate, since 2014. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a reunification plan earlier this month.

In the last election for the seat in 2016, Avella was challenged by former prosecutor Mark Cipolla, who ran under the Republican, Conservative and Reform parties.

When QNS reached out to Avella’s office for comment, a spokesperson said the lawmaker “never comments on his opponents.”

“Rather, Senator Avella runs on his record, on his accomplishments for his constituents and the state as a whole, and what he will continue to do as senator,” the spokesperson continued. “Senator Avella runs the same campaign every election regardless of who the opponent is and lets the voters in the democratic process decide.”