Grodenchik makes bid for new Flushing seat

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When he thinks back to his election loss to current Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) last year, Barry Grodenchik does not speak with bitterness.

“It was a good clean campaign,” he said. “I worked very hard last summer. We just came up a little short.”

But despite his soft tone, Grodenchik is confident that he will soon be speaking, not of an electoral loss but of a electoral victory.

Grodenchik, 42, is one of seven people who has so far declared his candidacy for the new 22nd Assembly District. Created as a result of redistricting, the new district centers on downtown Flushing.

Democratic District Leader Ethel Chen, Republican District Leader Meilin Tan, Democratic activist Richard Jannaccio, Democratic political newcomer John Albert and Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou and Democratic businessman Jimmy Meng also are contending for the new seat.

In one of last year’s biggest electoral surprises, Grodenchik lost the race for longtime Councilman Morton Povman’s seat to Gennaro despite the backing of the Democratic Party.

This year Grodenchik, who again has the support of the Democratic Party, has made several different campaign choices.

In a departure from last year’s race, he has hired a full-time campaign manager, Jean Kim.

During the council campaign, Grodenchik kept working at his job as chief administrative officer for Queens Borough President Claire Shulman. Grodenchik, who is now director of administration for Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, is technically holding onto the job this year but is using earned vacation time to work as a full-time candidate.

“I’m trying to concentrate as much as possible on knocking on doors,” Grodenchik said. “That’s where the voters are.”

Grodenchik, who worked as a horse-racing reporter after graduating from college, currently lives in Hillcrest outside the 22nd Assembly District. But because of redistricting, the state suspended its normal election rules this year, allowing candidates to run in districts in which they do not live.

Since the same rules with not apply for the following election, Grodenchik plans to move into the new assembly district if he wins the race.

Grodenchik, who grew up in Pomonok Houses and attended IS 237 on Colden Street, objected to criticism from other candidates that he is not from Flushing.

“When people ask me where I’m from, I say I’m from Flushing.” Grodenchik said. “I don’t say I’m from Queens, and I don’t say I’m from Fresh Meadows.”

Grodenchik, who is white, is running in a district which is 53.3 percent Asian, 20.1 percent white, 18.7 percent Hispanic and 4.5 percent black. Grodenchik said he did not think race should be a consideration in the state’s only majority Asian assembly district.

“I think that you represent every district pretty much the same,” he said.

Grodenchik said he hoped to focus on public safety, affordable housing and striking a balance of development in Flushing if elected.

“I have heard a lot of concerns about the lack of affordable housing,” he said. “People who grew up in this neighborhood can’t afford to live here anymore, and that’s really sad.”

Grodenchik cited his 15 years of work in government jobs as his strongest asset.

“I’m the only person with any kind of government experience,” Grodenchik said. “I’ve learned from the best.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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