Months after his protege backed out of a bid to run the city Board of Elections in order to challenge this fall state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), former state Sen. Serphin Maltese has formally tossed his hat into the ring to become executive director of the BOE.
Maltese, who beginning in 1988 was elected nine times to lead the 15th District, last Thursday and Friday forwarded an e-mail, with biographical information attached, to both Republican and Democratic commissioners on the board indicating his interest in being considered for the top spot. He also this week e-mailed BOE President Julie Dent and Deputy Executive Director George Gonzalez detailing support from Queens County Republican Party Chairman Phil Ragusa, Queens County Republican BOE Commissioner Judith Stupp and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn).
“I’ve always been interested in the position,” Maltese, 77, told the Chronicle Tuesday. “I thought it would be a challenge. That’s why I decided to do it.”
Maltese served the communities of Forest Hills Gardens, Glendale, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, parts of Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, South Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Sunnyside and Woodside until he lost his Senate seat to Addabbo, then a city councilman, in 2008. Anthony Como, once Maltese’s chief counsel, is running to unseat the freshman Addabbo, but only after Como withdrew his own bid to lead the BOE. Como changed his mind regarding a campaign for his mentor’s senate seat twice in the span of two days in June.
Like Como, Maltese cited the upcoming debut of new voting machines as one of the main reasons he launched the bid.
“We have a very unique system here in New York — a good system, a fair system and over the years it has worked,” Maltese said. “This is the most difficult election cycle ever.”
The BOE is a bipartisan administrative body composed of 10 commissioners, two from each borough. According to a City Hall News report, the board has not had an executive director since Marcus Cedarqvist resigned in February. In order to secure the $172,000 per year gig, Maltese must get six of the commissioners to vote for him.
“Some Democrats and Republicans indicated to me I’d be a good choice, mainly because I’m not interested in a future elected office,” he said. “I’ve always gotten along with Democrats and Republicans — you have to in Queens County.”
Maltese, a native of Corona and Korean War veteran, has been an election attorney since 1961 and spent seven years as chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, a position now held by Addabbo. He holds no post with the QGOP, but still is the chairman of the board of Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village, where he has served pro bono for 30 years.
His last day in political office was Dec. 31, 2008, but Maltese said he’s “kept a hand in” borough affairs since then.
“It’s very hard after you’ve been in politics for 40 years to not be involved,” he said.