Seminerio, Pheffer battle smaller party candidates

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Two longtime legislators are running for re-election to state assembly seats covering Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Howard Beach in a bid to continue their work on issues such as curbing illegal conversions and increasing the number of schools in Queens.

Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill) is seeking his 13th straight two-year term in the 38th Assembly District, which he has represented since 1978.

Seminerio is running against Green Party candidate Darius Pereira in the 38th A.D., which spans Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale and part of Ridgewood.

Seminerio, who was appointed assistant Democratic majority leader in the Assembly in 1997, was a corrections officer for 16 years before being elected to the Assembly.

He referred requests for an interview to an aide, who fielded the questions. Pereira did not return phone calls, although his mother attempted to respond on his behalf.

The aide to Seminerio, who also is running as a Conservative, said this election cycle the assemblyman is concerned with the ongoing problem of illegal conversions, overcrowded schools and increasing the number of police officers.

“The schools in our area are just too overcrowded,” said Capt. James Fitz Gerald, the aide, adding that Seminerio had helped in getting funds for new school constructions at MS 137 in Ozone Park and PS 51 in Richmond Hill.

He said Seminerio wants to stop illegal conversions because they are the source of many problems, including poor sanitation and sewer systems as well as schools with too many students.

Pereira, who hopes to unseat the 24-year incumbent, wants to set up citizen action centers throughout the district to further localize the community boards.

In a response to a questionnaire prepared by the TimesLedger for next week’s Voter’s Guide, Pereira said these centers could recruit local teenagers and young adults to volunteer in community affairs projects in the hopes of reducing crime among the younger population.

He also said he hoped to work with the mayor’s newly appointed school board and encouraged the community to take an active role in attending its meetings and public hearings.

In the race for the 23rd Assembly District, which covers Howard Beach and the Rockaways, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway), who was first elected to the Assembly in a special election in 1987, is seeking re-election.

She is opposed by Independence Party candidate Kenneth Huhn.

Pheffer is a 39-year resident of Far Rockaway and graduated from Queens College. She said her priorities include education, economic development, quality of life in her district and health care.

“Education is really the most upfront (issue),” said Pheffer, who also is running on the Liberal and Working Families tickets.

Pheffer, a member of the New York State School Governance Committee, said she hopes there will be more schools constructed and that public input in school decisions will increase since reforms were initiated to replace local school boards with other local representational bodies.

Her opponent, Huhn, was born and raised in Rockaway Beach and has been in the local printing and newspaper trade for 35 years, he said.

Huhn ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1978 as the Republican and Conservative candidate and has since served as district leader for the Conservative Party from 1973-1984. He started the Gateway Republican Club in 1991 and is currently president.

Some of the highlights of Huhn’s platform include a proposal to introduce legislation to end parole for all convicted felons, a proposal to require a two-thirds majority vote in the Assembly to approve a tax increase and a proposal to initiate a merit-based school system where teachers are rewarded based on good student performance.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 156

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