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Political Action: Iannece vs. Abel battle likely for Avella’s seat

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At this time there are two generally recognized leading candidates. One is Democratic attorney Jerry Iannece, who has served as chairman of Community Board 11. He is also the former president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association. Iannece recently formally announced his candidacy. The other possible leading candidate is former Republican City Councilman Mike Abel, who represented the 19th CD from 1991 to 2001. Abel now works for the city Housing Preservation and Development Department. He holds the position of director of Down Payment Assistance Programs and has been with that city agency for the last five years. Abel has not as yet officially announced his candidacy. He has indicated that if he runs for the position, he will make his official announcement by Election Day 2008, if not sooner.Iannece will probably be facing a Democratic primary election as he seeks the Queens Democratic Party official designation. Asked what his main emphasis would be if elected, Iannece said, "I will emphasize quality-of-life issues and work on getting a fair share of allocated municipal resources for our district in addition to stopping overdevelopment and improving zoning procedures." Specific projects in the 19th CD that Iannece would want to work on include enlarging the libraries and municipal parking lots in general, besides improving parking on Bell Boulevard. He would also focus on having the police precincts reorganized to improve response time and look into the possibility of establishing another police precinct.When I asked the former councilman what his main agenda would be in representing the people of the 19th CD, he said, "I would continue the efforts and the policies that I espoused in my first three terms in office. People want to see money going into schools, libraries and parks." Turning to the recent loss of a Republican state Senate seat in a special election, Abel indicated that the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee should be putting more financial resources into New York City Senate races to compensate for losses elsewhere.The 19th CD has had its share of hard-fought political campaigns. In 1991 Mike Abel had one primary opponent whom he defeated. However, next year there probably will be several other Republicans who may be interested in running, thereby initiating a Republican 19th CD primary. In 1991 there were no less than nine candidates running in the Democratic primary for City Council.In 1997 Jerry Iannece ran against Abel, the result being that Abel won his third term. At the end of that term he would relinquish the seat due to term limits. If Iannece and Abel have a rematch next year there will be no incumbent office holder. They will both be running against each other for an open seat. In 2001 Tony Avella won the 19th CD Democratic primary against four opponents, including Iannece on the Liberal Party line, and then went on to defeat Republican Dennis Saffran by a narrow margin. So far this year n addition to Iannece, there are three other Democratic candidates who have declared their candidacy for the open 19th Council Seat, including Paul Vallone, Steve Behar and Debra Markell.Most candidates who have declare their intent to run for city elective office in 2009 are engaged in fund-raising in anticipation of city matching funds for their campaigns. Next year many candidates will be entering races throughout the city from mayor on down, because most of these offices are open seats with no incumbents. Most terms will be for four years instead of two years as in the state Assembly and the state Senate.Every incumbent member of the City Council that I have spoken to with the exception of Tony Avella is opposed to term limits. It is generally believed that all the knowledge and experience that Council members have gained about city government, especially the budget procedures, will be wasted when they are term limited out after eight years. It is also felt that the voters will be unable to choose from a full slate of candidates, including the incumbent. There was some discussion in the City Council last year about finding a way of removing term limits in the future, but Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), who will be running for mayor next year, will not allow the matter to come before the full City Council for determination.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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