The field for the 24th Council District has grown by one, as millionaire and former Queens College professor Isaac Sasson entered the race to replace term-limited incumbent James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows).
If the 72-year-old marathon runner’s name rings a bell, it’s because his name has been on the ballot several times already. In 2003, he ran for the 20th District Council seat against John Liu, and he opposed state. Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) in 2009.
The urge for public service remains, Sasson said, and fuels his third attempt at elected office.
“I want to do more for the community,” he said. “I’ve been involved for a long time. I’m motivated.”
Sasson currently has $55,000 on hand for his campaign, according to his most recent Campaign Finance Board filings. The sole $100,000 loan funding his campaign came straight from his own pocket.
Before retiring, Sasson was a cancer researcher and educator at Queens College. Born in Syria and raised in Lebanon, he moved to Brooklyn as a teen and served in the Army for two years. He also worked briefly at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. But the largesse that funds his campaign comes from his winning $13 million in the lottery in 2007.
Sasson admittedly does not currently reside in the district, which he attributed to the city Districting Commission’s unsettled lines. But he plans to move, after living in Flushing for 35 years.
He did not specify issues he’d like to tackle should he get elected, saying he’d listen to his potential future constituents first.
“We’re going to define it as we go along,” he said. “I’m going to be listening to the community.”
While some may coin his candidacy as quixotic, Sasson believes mettle and gumption account for a lot. It’s the same sort of drive behind the 20 marathon medals lining the walls of his home.
“I’ve got the energy, the desire, to knock on doors,” he said.