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Eight set to battle it out for Abel’s council seat

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With seven months to go until...

By Kathianne Boniello

When it comes to the question of who will succeed City Councilman Mike Abel (R-Bayside), the northeast Queens voters who are to decide the answer in this fall’s elections have a dizzying number of candidates to choose from.

With seven months to go until primary elections for the 19th Councilmanic District seat that Abel has occupied since 1992, six candidates have publicly announced their intention to run for the post. Another candidate has been nominated by local Republican Party district leaders as the best person for the job, and an eighth hopeful is considering entering the race.

Abel, one of three Queens Republicans in the City Council, has been in office for nearly 10 years and is prohibited from seeking a third term under the city’s 1993 term limits law. Abel announced his candidacy in the borough president’s race in November 1999.

The 19th CD covers parts of northeast Queens and includes the communities of Bayside, Bay Terrace, Whitestone, College Point, Malba, Douglas Manor, Beechhurst, and parts of Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Linden Hill, and Murray Hill.

In a primarily Democratic borough, it is no surprise that five Democratic candidates have turned out so far to battle for Abel’s council seat. On the other side of the political spectrum, a pair of Republicans is now in the race and a third was likely to announce his bid in the coming months.

Democratic candidates in the 19th Council District include: civic activist Joyce Shepard of Bay Terrace; civic leader Jerry Iannece of Bayside Hills; Democratic district leader Tony Avella, of College Point; Community Board 7 member Arthur Cheliotes of Bay Terrace; and John Frank of Whitestone, who now works as state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza’s (D-Bayside) treasurer.

Of the Republican hopefuls in the 19th CD, city employee Greg Miley of Bayside was nominated by northeast Queens Conservative party leaders last month as their candidate for the post. Chris Butler, a Bayside native, announced his candidacy on the Republican ticket in November 2000, and Dennis Saffran, from Douglaston, was likely to run for the seat as a Republican.

According to the city Campaign Finance Board web site, which was last updated Feb. 8, five of the candidates for Abel’s council seat have filed financial information with the board. Of those five, Cheliotes has far outstripped his opponents, raising more than $101,000 for his endeavor from 310 contributors.

Activist Shepard, the only woman among the candidates, has raised more than $13,000 from 124 contributors.

Avella, who works as an aide to state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), has raised more than $78,000 for his bid to win the council seat, garnering the funds from 421 donors, according to the Campaign Finance Board, while Iannece has raised nearly $11,000 from 68 contributors.

Republican Butler has received nearly $8,000 from 88 donors.

According to the city Board of Elections, neither Frank nor Miley had filed with the city to run in the 19th CD race as of this week.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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