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2 candidates raise funds in bids to unseat Gennaro

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A lawyer with an accounting background and a retired bank worker have begun raising campaign funds to run against City Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) in this year’s city council elections.

Both Democrats and residents of Kew Gardens Hills, David Reich, 37, and Florence Fisher, 69, said they were running for office in the 24th Council District in order to be in a position to help more people.

“If I get a call, I’m anxious to help and that’s what it’s all about: doing the constituent work,” said Reich, who currently serves as counsel to state Sen. Seymour Lachman (D-Brooklyn).

Reich has been working in the state Senate for 10 years, serving as legislative council to former state Sen. Emanuel Gold from 1993 to 1998 and as chief of staff and counsel to Lachman from 1999 until the present.

“Working in the state Senate has given me the experience of writing legislation, seeing the legislative process firsthand and meeting with different interest groups,” Reich said.

As a counsel in the state Senate, Reich wrote legislation to allow people to bring children under the age of 14 into voting booths in order to teach them good civic duty. He also worked on a bill requiring supermarket carts to have safety straps.

Before working for the Senate, Reich was an attorney in private practice and a tax consultant for Deloitte and Touche.

In 2001, Reich ran for office against Gennaro and Barry Grodenchik, who is now a state assemblyman. Reich came in third, with 3,000 votes.

“It was a respectable showing. I thought I would only get 500 votes,” Reich said. “I laid the groundwork for running again.”

So far, Reich has raised about $15,000 for his campaign, according to the Campaign Finance Board. He hopes to raise at least $35,000, the amount that he raised for his 2001 campaign.

If elected, Reich said he hopes to encourage the building of a rail system to transport people to, from and between Queens airports, and to clean up Main Street in Flushing by issuing more summonses to people who litter on the street.

Fisher said her chances for winning this year’s election were good because she had built up a broad base of support, working as a community activist for more than 25 years in addition to stints as a bookkeeper, teller and platform officer in a bank for 31 years.

Having served as the head of the Kew Gardens Tenants’ League from 1976 to 2000, housing chairwoman for Community Board 8 for 15 years and vice president of her Hyde Park Gardens co-op for about a year, Fisher said she has forged some very good relationships with landlords and would use those connections to try to build more affordable housing in her community.

Fisher was also one of seven founders of the Queens League of United Tenants, an educational group that teaches tenants about their rights.

In addition to dealing with housing, Fisher said she would focus on addressing drug abuse problems and on developing more after-school programs to get kids off the streets.

“What I would really like to see is the cops working the beat, on the street, getting to know the kids, talking to them. I think it really helps when the kids don’t see the cops as the enemy,” Fisher said.

To date Fisher has raised about $9,000 for her campaign, according to the Campaign Finance Board. She said she has a strong support system around her that is eager to help her win the election.

“People are very excited about me running. They thought I should have done it 15 years ago,” Fisher said. “They can’t wait to do the petition, go to the fund-raiser, go to the victory party.”

This year’s primary elections will be held on Sept. 9, and general elections will be held on Nov. 4.

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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