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Whitestone Republican club applauds Ragusa as chairman

Ragusa emphasized the importance of grassroots mobilization as a means for rejuvenating the minority party and fielding a greater number of quality candidates for more offices in the borough. "I want to thank the Republican leaders here in this room for supporting my election as county leader," Ragusa said. "I will work with each of you to rebuild the party, recruit quality candidates for local office and get our Republican message out on lower taxes, better schools, protecting our quality of life and fostering responsible government." Ragusa was elected to the post Feb. 1, replacing state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), 74, who stepped down after a 10-year run as chairman. Maltese defeated Democratic challenger Albert Baldeo by a mere 900 votes in last year's drawn-out election.Maltese, who had been expected to easily defeat Baldeo in November, said he would now focus on his work as senator for the 15th District, which covers a number of Queens neighborhoods, including Glendale, Howard Beach, Sunnyside and Richmond Hill as well as his 2008 campaign. Whitestone Republican Club President Pete Sutich said he was pleased to see Ragusa, a Whitestone resident, take the helm for the county Republicans. "Phil does a great job of motivating the grassroots Republicans here and getting them out to vote and getting them out to help. I know he's got some great plans for the county," Sutich said. "I think he's going to do a great job."Ragusa also joined the Whitestone Republican Club in honoring Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan with its Champion of Justice Award, given each year to a law enforcement official who exemplifies the qualities of great leadership in the fight against crime. Last year's recipient was former state attorney general candidate Jeanine Pirro. "Dan is a rising star in the Republican Party and a great public servant worthy of our support," Ragusa said of DA Donovan. "We hope for great things from Dan in the future given his record of service and success." Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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