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Weprin cruises to victory over Sica in council race

Democrat David Weprin finally added his name to his family’s political dynasty with a crushing defeat of Queens Village Republican and former city marshal Philip Sica in the race to replace long-time City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis).

Both men, who have long histories in Queens and their communities, ran campaigns on the similar issues facing the diverse district, which includes South Asians, Jews, blacks, Italians, Hispanics and West Indians. Each cited education, public safety, illegal conversions and the city’s slowing economy as the concerns in their neighborhoods.

“It feels good, but it is going to be a tough two years,” Weprin said. “I will be working to get us through the tough times and working to make sure that northeast Queens does not suffer.”

According to unofficial results, with 75 percent of the precincts reporting, Weprin garnered 15,425 or 68 percent of the vote while Sica captured 7,379 or 32 percent of the vote.

Weprin said there will across-the-board cuts in the next few years stemming from the Sept. 11 disaster and the loss of tax revenue, but he will try to make sure northeast Queens’ quality of life does not change.

He said Tom Manton, leader of the Queens Democratic machine, and the head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party have been meeting to see if they could broker any deals to name the new city council speaker and some of the plum positions at the Council.

“I am a candidate for speaker of the Council as one of Queens’ favorite sons,” Weprin said. “The question is whether the delegation and party supports a Queens candidate or someone from another borough.”

If he does not get the speakership, he said, he would like to become head of the finance committee, the No. 2 position in the Council. Weprin said his financial background will help get the city resolve its financial crisis.

In conceding Sica, who went to the Weprin headquarters to find out how the election was going, said he has watched Weprin over the past two years and has seen him grow as a person. He said Weprin has gained strength and confidence.

“I told him now I know how Joe Torre felt,” he said.

The seat, which Leffler has held since 1978, stretches from Queens Village to Bellerose and from Glen Oaks to Hollis. It also includes Floral Park New Hyde Park and parts of Bayside, Little Neck and Douglaston.

Weprin, 44, a lawyer, is the son of the late Democratic state Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin and brother of Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside). He has been involved in politics for many years and worked as the deputy supervisor of banking under former Gov. Mario Cuomo during his first term.

Sica, 66, a retired city marshal and minister who worked for the city for 24 years, decided to run for the seat because as a retiree he could devote all of his time to helping the community.

With his latest loss at the polls, Sica has been defeated by both of Saul Weprin’s sons. Mark Weprin (D-Bayside) defeated him in the 2000 Assembly race.

The only real difference between the two candidates’ campaigns was that Weprin favored keeping the Board of Education and did not think putting it under the mayor’s control was the way to go. For his part, Sica wanted to abolish the Board of Ed and transfer it to the direct control of the mayor.

“I know I can make a difference,” Weprin said. “The win was very satisfying.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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