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Fundraiser starts Gennaro’s re-election bid

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The re-election party,...

By Tien-Shun Lee

Fellow politicians, local leaders and constituents praised Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) as a warm, hardworking, do-good people person during a fund-raising party last Thursday to kick off his re-election campaign.

The re-election party, which included a buffet dinner and short speeches, raised about $50,000 toward Gennaro’s campaign funds, the councilman said.

“Jim has been the councilman of passion and principle. He’s made me proud of being his friend,” said state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside), the master of ceremonies at the event, which was held at the Hillcrest Jewish Center on Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows. “My message to his opponents is, ‘You don’t stand a chance because Jim’s going to do it again.’ ”

Gennaro, 45, was elected in November 2001 to become the council member for the 24th District of Queens, serving Fresh Meadows, Briarwood, Kew Gardens Hills, Jamaica Estates, Forest Hills, Hillcrest and Flushing Heights.

With more than 10 years of experience as the City Council’s environmental policy adviser, over five years as an adjunct professor of political science and environmental public policy at Queens College and a bachelor’s degree in geology and environmental sciences from SUNY Stony Brook, Gennaro was named chairman of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee in January 2002.

“Jim was into the environment as a young student in high school,” said his father, Louis Gennaro, 75.

The elder Gennaro recalled that when his son was a teenager, he made it his cause to save a tree in their Long Island neighborhood after the tree was hacked apart because it was blocking the sign for a movie theater.

“He called the town of Hempstead and told them a tree was dying. He would not get off their backs,” Louis Gennaro recalled.

Eventually city workers came and tarred the tree where it had been broken, and the tree was saved.

“It may not seem like a lot, but to a father you could see where this was going,” Louis Gennaro said.

Weprin said Gennaro had won a tough primary last year with “knuckles and shoe leather.”

“He really did go and see everyone door to door,” said Doreen Liebowitz, a Fresh Meadows Gennaro supporter who belongs to the Saul Weprin Democratic Club. “He’s a very sweet guy and we saw him work the streets. ... him and the Weprin family, they’re in politics to do good.”

Gennaro listed among his accomplishments for the year the addition of 20 more officers to the 107th Precinct, the donation of $250,000 to 10 schools for new computer laboratories and one new science lab, a trip to Israel in August to show support for victims of terror and the maintenance of strict watershed regulations so the city could avoid installing an $8 billion water filtration plant for its water supply.

“Jim is quite a remarkable young man. He has done an unbelievable job in so short a time,” U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) said.

Also attending the event were Thomas Manton, the chairman of the Democratic Organization of Queens, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan), Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis), former Councilman Archie Spigner, Democratic district leader Uma Sengupta, and Gennaro’s wife and two children.

“I’m a supporter of Gennaro from the first time he ran,” said Ivan Mossop, a Fresh Meadows resident who recalled mistaking Gennaro for a door-to-door salesman when he was campaigning in his neighborhood in 2001. “He’s very personable. It’s his vibe. He’s energetic and he seems sincere.”

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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