When the Queens County Republican Party announced last week that it would endorse Anthony Como for the upcoming City Council District 30 special election, not everyone was pleased — least of all, Como’s Republican opponent, former City Councilman Thomas Ognibene.
“I think the county has its favorites,” Ognibene said. “I feel that (the leadership wants) to keep control as much as they can of those seats. I don’t know that it’s in the best interest of the people.”
Ognibene said he had spoken to QCRP Chairman Philip Ragusa, expressing his desire to be heard by the party before the nomination was decided. “I thought I had a lot of bona fides,” he said. “At least the people should have had an opportunity to hear me.”
Instead, he claims, the nomination was made without hearing him, in what he called a “clandestine fashion.”
Executive Vice Chairman to the QCRP, Vince Tabone, of Bayside, denied that there was anything surreptitious about the process, and that Ragusa had clearly expressed the party’s preference for Como when he spoke with Ognibene.
Tabone explained that each local district leader within the 30th City Council District had unanimously endorsed Como, and cited Como’s experience as a former Queens assistant district attorney, commissioner to the Queens Board of Elections, and counsel to state Sen. Serphin Maltese.
“It doesn’t diminish Tom Ognibene’s past service to the party and to the community,” Tabone said, “but that was the decision of the body.”
Ognibene already served as councilman for District 30 from 1992 to 2001, during which time he was the council minority leader for seven years. He was term limited out of office.
The seat has been held by Dennis Gallagher since then, who was chief of staff for Ognibene. Gallagher pleaded guilty last month to two misdemeanor counts of sexual misconduct, having agreed to resign from office as part of the plea bargain. His last day in office is expected to be on April 18.
At that time, the mayor must issue a proclamation within three days to declare a special election. They are generally held the first Tuesday 45 days after the proclamation, which means the run-off could come as early as the beginning of June.
The Queens committee endorsed Ognibene as recently as 2005, when he ran for mayor against Michael Bloomberg and lost.
In separate news, 23-year-old Democrat Mike Mascetti, a relative unknown, opened a financial disclosure committee with the BOE last week, becoming the fifth potential candidate to throw his hat in the ring.
Mascetti said he grew up in Middle Village, where he still resides, having attended Stuyvesant High School and Fordham University. He works as a paralegal in Manhattan and runs a charity for low-income students. This is his first run for office.
Overdevelopment and zoning issues are among his major focuses, he said. “I’m someone new whose not beholden to the political machine. I’m running because I want to do the right thing and I want to listen to the people I’ve lived with my whole life, who are fed up with the entrenched clubhouse politics of the 30th Council District.”
Local residents will have a chance to hear all five potential candidates for the special election, on Thursday, April 3, including both Republicans and remaining Democrats Elizabeth Crowley and Charles Ober. Each will speak in the Vito Maranzano Community Hall at the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council building located at 62-10 Myrtle Ave. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. and parking is available at the Stop and Shop, located a block east of the youth center.