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Queens Chronicle

Democrat backs GOPer’s Saffran

Graziano, one of four to lose in primary to Vallone, has harsh words

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Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:19 am, Thu Oct 24, 2013.

Mudslinging was the order of the day on Monday as a former Democratic candidate in the 19th City Council District endorsed the Republican nominee and had plenty to say about his opponent.

Urban planner Paul Graziano, who placed third out of five candidates in the September Democratic primary, let the feathers fly when he announced his support for attorney Dennis Saffran in Saffran’s Bayside campaign office.

Graziano did not mince words in condemning the campaign tactics of attorney Paul Vallone, who won the primary and garnered the support of the Queens Democratic Party.

“Paul Vallone has had no interest or experience taking care of the issues that affect our neighborhoods, as was proven during the primary campaign when he refused to answer even simple questions from the public at the debates ... and didn’t even bother to show up to the one debate focused on overdevelopment issues of our Council district,” he said.

During the primary race, the four other Democratic hopefuls held a press conference condemning the negative fliers mailed about them, which were paid for by Jobs for New York, a large real estate interest group that backs Vallone.

Referring to the fliers, Graziano called them “unbelievably offensive, slanderous and negative,” which attempted “character assassination of his opponents and used religious bigotry in an attempt to get Catholic parishioners to vote for him, coupled with his overwhelming funding from the real estate industry and other special interest groups, clearly show that if he is elected ... Paul Vallone will not represent the interests of the residents of our neighborhoods, only those of the real estate industry and clients of his family’s lobbying firm.”

Responding to the claims, Austin Finan, spokesman for Vallone’s campaign, said: “We’re over a month past the primary and a bitter Paul Graziano is still lying to voters. This time for Dennis Saffran — the nominee of the most corrupt bunch of political thugs in this city and the very party that’s driving this country into the ground. Sounds like they’re made for each other.”

Graziano said he is supporting Saffran because he cares about the same things that district residents are concerned about such as overdevelopment, excellence in area public schools and “reinforcing the excellent quality of life that we deserve in Northeast Queens.”

In switching allegiance for the race, he said he is voting for the best candidate regardless of party affiliation. “Dennis Saffran is honest,” Graziano added. “Let’s bring back an adult to the race, one who takes responsibility for his actions.”

The Republican said he was grateful and honored for the support. Twelve years ago Saffran lost to Tony Avella by 1 percent of the vote for the same seat in the City Council he is seeking now, and said if elected he wants to continue Avella’s work in rezoning and “preserving the character of Northeast Queens he fought for.”

The only Democratic candidate who ran against Vallone who is supporting him now is John Duane.

Graziano pointed out that the other three candidates, collectively, received 57 percent of the vote and have refused to back Vallone in the general election.

Austin Shafran, who came in second, lost by 134 votes. Contacted Monday, he said he has no intention of endorsing Vallone and never will.

Chrissy Voskerichian, who placed fourth, said she is not endorsing anyone “and I never, ever will endorse Vallone. His campaign was disgusting.”

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