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White likely challenger to Jennings in Council race

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"I think he's the one that has the proven record," Mike Reich, the executive secretary of the Queens County Democratic Organization, said of White.White, the founder of a drug treatment program for southeast Queens users, served two terms in the Council before stepping aside in 2001 because of term limits. In the race to replace him, Jennings, a mortgage broker who had twice lost to White in Democratic primaries, emerged victorious over the choice of the borough's Democratic organization.After taking office, Jennings became mired in controversy and further alienated himself from the party. He was taken off two Council committees, was the subject of a campaign finance lawsuit and threw a piece of metal at a reporter, among other episodes. The Standards and Ethics Committee also recently found him guilty of misconduct and recommended Monday that he be fined, publicly reprimanded and sent to anger management and sexual harassment classes. The full Council will vote April 20 on whether or not to impose the penalties.While Jennings has not officially said he will run again, he has one four-year term of eligibility left. Reich previously mentioned three names as candidates his organization might endorse when it makes a formal announcement next month: White; Yvonne Reddick, the district manager of Community Board 12; and Patrick Jenkins, the district manager for U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans). The Web site for the city Campaign Finance Board lists White, Charles Bilal, Lawrence McClean and Dhanpaul Narine as candidates vying for Jennings' seat. Among the lesser-knowns, Baldeo, a Guyanese lawyer from Richmond Hill, has raised more than $20,000 already.Reddick narrowly lost to Jennings in a 2003 Democratic primary. While she still has time to declare, Reddick said Monday she had not yet decided. Jenkins, meanwhile, said he would not challenge White.Even if the former councilman emerges as the party's choice, he would still likely have to beat Jennings, whose popularity remains difficult to gauge in the face of the Council charges."Allan Jennings is a tough person to beat," said Jenkins, noting that the councilman is a good campaigner who seems to draw empathy from the community. "I think he's seen as an underdog, as a person under attack." Jenkins also said the recent allegations did not seem to be a big topic of conversation in the neighborhood.White's potential run may also have a speed bump as criticism that he had a poor attendance record as a councilman and neglected the job for his drug treatment program have resurfaced. One party insider said White also never really accomplished anything and was not responsive, and predicted a lukewarm response among voters.Reached Monday, the former councilman said he had a proven track record and had been present for crucial Council votes."I really believe that issue is a non-issue," he said, noting that other elected officials held outside jobs.Reich added that White had been instrumental in rebuilding downtown Jamaica during his tenure and obtaining other projects."I think the community would be very fortunate if they could get him back," he said.Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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