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Queens Chronicle

A fight to the finish in the 27th District

Six Democrats still have eyes on Leroy Comrie’s City Council seat

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Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:59 am, Thu Sep 5, 2013.

Say this about the battle to replace Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) in City Hall — voters will not lack for choices in the Sept. 10 primary.

Comrie, the popular dean of the Queens delegation, is being forced out after 12 years by term limits. And while there has been rampant speculation about the Councilman’s future ranging from Borough Hall to the state Senate, the battle to replace him has been one of the most hotly contested ones in the city.

The district covers St. Albans, Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica and Springfield Gardens.

The following profiles are limited to those candidates listed by the city’s Board of Elections as qualifying to appear on the Democratic primary ballot.

Manuel “Manny” Coughman is an aide to Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Jamaica) , and has won the endorsement of the Queens Democratic party.

His community involvement includes terms on Community Board 12 and the 113th Precinct Community Council.

His two biggest priorities in an interview with the Chronicle in March were education and quality-of-life issues.

Coughman wants to drastically rework mayoral control of the schools, giving more input and responsibility to parents.

Joan Flowers is a longtime presence in the party. She also believes mayoral control is due for an overhaul in favor of parental and public input, particularly Mayor Bloomberg’s practice of shutting down schools without consulting the community.

A close second priority for Flowers in an interview with the Chronicle earlier this year was the environment, particularly the need to control flooding in Southeast Queens and protecting residents from air and noise pollution around Kennedy Airport.

Greg Mays believes early literacy intervention for the school system’s youngest students can head off myriad problems before they happen.

Mays also says music instruction should be viewed as far more than an extracurricular activity, and should be in the regular syllabus.

On jobs and economic development, his platform includes supporting legislation to encourage the payment of a living wage.

He would support area nonprofits — which have been hit hard by the loss of discretionary funds out of Albany — by hiring a grant writer for his council office.

Daneek Miller is head of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056, which represents bus drivers and mechanics in Queens.

He also is co-chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Labor Coalition, which represents 60,000 workers.

Miller led the funding race in the last required filings with the Campaign Finance Board.

He also has Comrie’s endorsement, after being personally recruited by the Councilman.

Miller, too, said in an interview that education is the biggest issue in he district, if not the entire city.

He said whether one agrees with Bloomberg or not on the closing of schools, the mere fact that closings are being discussed is indicative of a serious problem in the system.

Miller also believes his experience as a labor leader gives him the experience needed when it comes to dealing and negotiating with the state and federal government.

Sondra Peeden has said at candidate forums that her experience in both the private and public sectors gives her a unique vantage point on difficult issues.

She favors using zoning to encourage economic development in the district’s industrial sections, and is dead-set against co-location of charter schools in existing school buildings.

Clyde Vanel, speaking at a forum on education, said, as Mays did, that schools in enough trouble to close give off warning signs long before critical action absolutely must be taken.

He said schools raising such red flags need evaluation to see if teacher training, student tutoring or other less drastic remedies can prevail.

He also has campaigned on the need to lower the costs and fees on small business and business capital.

Miller and Coughman were both far ahead of the pack in terms of money, according to figures obtained from the Campaign Finance Board’s website on Tuesday.

Miller has collected neatly $130,000 with more than $78,000 left in the bank.

Coughman, with $122,000 in private donations and public matching funds, is the current leader in the cash-on-hand sweepstakes with nearly $83,000.

Vanel, with a pair of unsuccessful state Assembly races under his belt from 2010 and 2012, has amassed a war chest of just under $80,000 and has more than $17,000 remaining.

Mays, with an infusion of matching funds, still has $32,000 left in the bank of the $44,403 he has raised.

CFB documents say Flowers, having raised $21,278, is reporting a deficit of nearly $28,000.

Peeden has raised just over $7,000 and had $724 remaining.

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