Today’s news:

Boro’s Council members eclipse foes in fund-raising

All 14 of the borough's Council members are eligible for another four-year term. Of those, the dozen who had filed with the city Campaign Finance Board as of May 16 showed an average of $195,500 in their war chests. That is compared to the average $16,400 so far filed by their 15 challengers. The next filing date is July 15.Each of the top three money-raisers - Council members Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills), Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) and David Weprin (D-Hollis) - have more money than all of the opponents combined. And only eight of the incumbents appear to even have challengers.Katz, so far the lead with $514,836 in campaign funds, overshadowed her opponent for the 20th Council District, Joseph Nocerino, who raised $14,475. Gioia, of the 26th CD, followed Katz with $414,441 in his coffers, a comfortable margin from opponent Robyn Skiar, who listed $1,105 in her first filing May 16. Both Katz and Weprin, however, have set their sights on a grander goal -- that of City Council speaker, a position currently held by Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan), who is running for mayor."I seemed to have fostered a lot of support and, of course, I'm very honored by that," Katz said, referring to her run for speaker - a race traditionally brokered by county party leaders but ultimately decided on with a vote by fellow council members.Weprin, who filed $349,391 and sits unopposed for his 23rd District seat, said his citywide visibility as four-year chairman of the Finance Committee has been key in attracting funds and support from longtime political allies and government friends."Right now I'm just trying to raise enough money to prevent any opposition," he said.A third Queens Council member vying for the speakership, Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), is running unchallenged in the 27th District with $146,954 so far raised. While both he and Katz have filed with the Campaign Finance Board, they opted out of its program to receive matching funds, which had a deadline of June 1. According to board spokeswoman Tanya Domi, this is not surprising for those running for speaker, since waving matching funds allows them free spending rein.But it is, Domi added, "regretful.""Our aim has been to diminish the influence of money in politics," she said. "These two individuals have decided to step outside that."But Katz had a different take, seeing little point in participating in the program when she already had raised more money than matching funds could ever provide."I don't need taxpayer money to run, so why not put it to better use for something else?" she said. In a separate issue, Domi said the board this week slapped Comrie with $2,100 in penalties for allegedly spending campaign money in 2003 on expenditures he claimed were campaign-related but were not. An example Domi gave was when the councilman supposedly gave money to students who did well in school.Comrie did not return calls for comment.Those outside the borough seeking the speaker seat include Council members Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), Bill de Blasio (D-Brooklyn) and Joel Rivera (D-Bronx).As for the other Council races, in the 19th District, Peter Boudouvas, a community representative for state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), who ran and lost against Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) last fall, has said he is now challenging Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside). Boudouvas has not yet filed with the Campaign Finance Board, while Avella thus far has raised a listed $103,100.In the 21st District, Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona) holds $157,613 compared to the $8,220 raised by opponent Marlene Tapper.Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), of the 24th CD, who has so far raised $98,461, faces two money-raising challengers: Renee Lobo, with $50,446, and Dilip Nath, with $16,029. Gennaro's office said another $50,000 was raised at a recent event. Competing for the 25th District seat now held by Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights), who has $77,098, are Bryan Pu-Folkes with $49,944 and Rodolfo Flores with $3,050.Councilman Allan Jennings (D-Jamaica), who has not filed with the Board, alone faces six opponents for the 28th CD seat. Lead contender Albert Baldeo has raised $48,595. Next comes Thomas White with $22,641, followed by Dhanpaul Narine's $9,977, Charles Bilal's $2,495, Lawrence McClean's $555 and Bernice Lowery, who has yet to file any funds. Jennings, who has said he is running despite lacking the party's endorsement and being censored recently by the full Council for misconduct, owes about $50,000 to the Campaign Finance Board, according to a board spokeswoman.Councilman James Sander Jr. (D-Laurelton), along with Jennings, has not filed with the board and also did not make the June 1 deadline to receive matching funds. But, according to his office, his filings should be posted by July 15.In his 31st CD District, the incumbent Sanders is running against David Hooks Jr, a Jamaica jobs counselor and Community Education Council member who has filed with the Campaign Finance Board but shows no money raised as of May 16. In addition to Weprin and Comrie, Council incumbents who have filed campaign money but thus far face no listed opposition for their district seats include John Liu (D-Flushing) with $227,419; Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) with $156,910; Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) with $23,110; and the lone Queens Republican, Dennis Gallagher (R- Middle Village), with $76,821.Beyond Council campaigns, Borough President Helen Marshall has raised $163,671 and seems to face no opponents. U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens), another mayoral candidate, has filed $2.1 million. Weiner's use of congressional campaign funds in his bid for mayor has raised some questions about compliance with campaign finance rules.Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Pin It
Print this story Permalink

Reader Feedback

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

CNG: Community Newspaper Group