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Jennings’ rival plans a run after Dems give thumbs up

Pringle, 31, is hoping to unseat Councilman Allan Jennings (D-Jamaica) from his post as a Democratic district leader in the 31st Assembly District.

"The way to win it is to be out there," Pringle said. "I've been talking one-to-one to get people out there to know me."

Pringle won the support of the Queens County Democratic Organization in the race against Jennings for the party seat and he has been shaking hands to collect the 500 petition signatures needed to get his name on the Sept. 14 ballot, he said.

District leader seats are local party positions that represent part of a state Assembly district and serve as a liaison between the community and the Democratic Party. Leaders help nominate judicial and special election candidates and are elected every two years.

Pringle, of Springfield Gardens, is vying for Jennings' seat in the 31st Assembly district, which covers, Springfield Gardens, Rosedale, Ozone Park and Richmond Hill.

A former assistant district attorney in the Bronx, Pringle is a criminal and real estate lawyer with offices in Jamaica. His interest in politics grew out of an internship with then-U.S. Rep. Floyd Flake, who was representing southeast Queens, and he ran for the 31st Assembly seat in both a special election and a general election in 2002. Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-Far Rockaway) won the seat both times.

Titus, herself a district leader, suggested Pringle for the Democratic nomination for the district leader position, and the party endorsed him, said Mike Reich, executive secretary for the Queens County Democratic Organization

"He's a very, very even-tempered kind of guy," Reich said. "He has great qualifications and he's head and shoulders above Allan."

Jennings, who did not return calls for comment, was elected to the district leader post in 1998, four years before he took his City Council seat. Jennings has earned a reputation as a maverick and has been blasted by the Democratic machine for placing ads in Chinese-language newspapers detailing his personal relationships.

"I feel Allan hasn't been responsive to the people he represents in his district leader spot," Pringle said. "You need to have the ear of the Democratic Party and he has alienated himself from the party. You have to ask how effective has Allan been as a district leader."

The Democratic Party leaders said last year they would run a candidate against Jennings for the district leader seat and Pringle was endorsed this spring for the seat, Pringle said.

"Allan Jennings is an embarrassment to city," Reich said. "We need to rid Allan first from our party and finally the citizens will have to vote him out of the Council."

Last year the party backed Community Board 12 District Manager Yvonne Reddick in the race for Jennings' Council seat. Jennings won by a few hundred votes.

More recently Jennings was charged by the Council's Ethics and Standards Committee with creating a hostile work environment for his female aides and acting inappropriately toward a female City Council lawyer. The women complained separately that he had sexually harassed them and made romantic overtures toward them. Jennings has a chance to respond to the charges at a Council committee hearing later this summer.

"Unfortunately, the only thing he has brought southeast Queens is bad publicity," Pringle said.

Pringle has a long road to haul, he said. Jennings has support from voters and name recognition - two important things in any election, Pringle said.

"It's not like this is going to be an easy campaign. I am going at it like I'm running for the governorship."

And Pringle often has to explain to people what a district leader is, he said.

"Most people don't know there is a district leader position," he said. "I'm trying to get as many people out there as possible."

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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