With a little over five weeks left before the Sept. 10 primary, several Democratic candidates in the crowded District 19 City Council race are busy holding press conferences, announcing endorsements and making pronouncements.
The district takes in College Point, North Flushing, Whitestone, Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck. The seat is now held by beleaguered Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), who is not seeking re-election.
He has been indicted on several federal charges including bribery and corruption.
First-time candidate Austin Shafran announced last week that he has been endorsed by former Rep. Gary Ackerman. Several years ago the candidate worked for Ackerman as a community liaison.
Shafran has also been endorsed by the United Federation of Teachers, among others. The UFT is considered a major vote getter. He last worked in state government for Gov. Cuomo’s Empire State Development agency.
Candidate Paul Vallone, an attorney and the Queens Democratic Party’s choice, was endorsed earlier this week by Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece. Both men ran for the same seat, and lost, in the 2009 Democratic primary.
“Like myself, Paul Vallone is a dedicated husband, father and small business owner. Whether as president of the Clinton Democratic Club or through his community service work as a founding member of the Bayside-Whitestone Lion’s Club, Paul’s dedication to northeast Queens is clear,” Iannece said. “That’s why I’m standing with Paul Vallone.”
Chrissy Voskerichian, the only female in the race, made statements Monday on two issues. She called on the MTA to revise its budget and financial projections to reduce or eliminate the need for fare increases.
Voskerichian also called on the City Council to vote against two bills known as the Community Safety Act. “These bills effectively end the practice of stop, question, and frisk, and they seriously limit the ability of the NYPD to police proactively” she said. “The result will be more guns on the street, more drugs in our neighborhoods and a serious negative impact to our public safety and quality of life.”
The Flushing resident and civic leader was a businesswoman for 30 years and most recently worked for Halloran, but resigned after learning of his alleged crimes.
Candidate Paul Graziano, also of Flushing, is a zoning expert. He held a press conference on Tuesday outside a former residence at 156-10 32 Ave. in Flushing.
Graziano wrote a zoning challenge to the Department of Buildings after the owner tore down almost the entire house when he was only permitted to alter the structure.
The DOB issued a stop-work order on July 18 and fined the developer $5,000 for continuing to work. Still working on the property Monday, the construction foreman told Graziano and a nearby resident that he was doing maintenance.
The candidate said the man told him that “this was America and it was the owner’s right to build what he wanted.”
The other Democrat running for the seat is John Duane of Little Neck, a lawyer, who served in the Assembly for one term 30 years ago.
Appearing on the Republican ticket on Election Day will be Dennis Saffran, a lawyer from Douglaston.