Former Queens Councilman Thomas Ognibene passes away

Former Councilman Thomas Ognibene died of cancer on Monday.

Thomas Ognibene, one of the borough's most active and recognizable Republican fixtures over the last two decades, died on Monday after a battle with cancer at the age of 72.

Ognibene was first elected to the City Council in 1992, where he served the 30th District, encompassing southwest Queens neighborhoods such as Maspeth, Glendale, Ridgewood, Woodhaven and Middle Village, where he lived with his wife, Margaret, from 1986 until his death.

The politician also served as the legislative body's minority leader from 1994 until 2001, when term limits forced his departure from the City Council.

After learning of Ognibene's death, Queens political figures quickly took to social media website Twitter to mourn the longtime borough leader.

"Former Councilman Tom Ognibene was like a second father to me," Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) tweeted. "I would not be the man I am today if it were not for his help and guidance."

"So sorry to hear of the passing of Tom Ognibene," tweeted former Congressman Anthony Weiner. "He was cleaver, funny and passionate. His family are in my prayers."

Thoughts and prayers in Ognibene's name also poured in from the city's southernmost borough, with Staten Island Borough President Jimmy Oddo saying the Middle Village man had a huge impact on his life.

"I can count on my right hand the number of people who've had a bigger influence on my life than Tom Ognibene," Oddo said. "More than a boss or mentor. RIP, friend."

In 2005, Ognibene unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Michael Bloomberg for mayor on the Conservative Party line, despite earning the endorsement of the Queens County Republicans.

He also lost a 2008 special election to Anthony Como for the same City Council seat he held a decade earlier, with current Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) beating him in 2009's general election.

One year later, he was Carl Palladino's chosen running mate for lieutenant governor, but lost a narrow primary to Chautauqua County executive Greg Edwards.

Ognibene also served as vice president on Christ the King High School's Board of Trustees for over two decades.

The Middle Village school's Board of Trustees, led by president and former state Sen. Serf Maltese, issued a statement on Tuesday, calling Ognibene a dedicated public servant.

"Christ the King is deeply saddened by the loss of our long time Board of Trustees vice chairman and chairman of Christ the King's Scholarship Committee, Thomas V. Ognibene," the board said. "Mr. Ognibene was dedicated not only to the students and parents of the school, but also as a public servant during his years as a member of the New York City Council and as the minority leader of the council."

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