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With the special election petition drive's end in the 30th City Council District of Middle Village, Glendale, Maspeth and Ridgewood, we can now look at where the candidates stand in terms of their political strengths.

Democrat Elizabeth Crowley achieved the most petition signatures with about 6,000. Her Democratic opponent, Charles Ober, received over 1,800 signatures. John Seminerio, son of state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill), did not submit petitions, so he will not run. Crowley has been successful in fund-raising and will not file for matching funds. The name of the political party she has chosen for her independent race is the "Schools First Party." Her campaign manager, Allison Grant, has indicated that Crowley's campaign headquarters is open 14 hours a day.

Regarding third party endorsements, Republican Tom Ognibene has received the Conservative Party endorsement, Crowley has received the Working Families Party endorsement. There have been no challenges to Crowley's or Ober's petitions, so both will be on the ballot for the special June 3 election.

On the Republican side, Joseph Suraci has filed petitions with the city Elections Board. He may not, however, have enough signatures to qualify for a ballot position. A former city councilman, Ognibene has filed two volumes of petitions totaling about 2,100 signatures. The Queens County Republican Party backed candidate Anthony Como, who has 1,500 signatures in one volume. Como has also filed general objections against Ognibene's petitions. It remains to be seen if Como will continue his petition challenge by also filing specifications.

While except for Crowley, the other candidates have applied for matching funds with fund-raising events featured by the candidates' campaign staffs. All but Como have campaign managers; Como will manage his campaign.

As the contest moves forward, there is considerable interest as to how the Democratic Party vote will be split between Crowley and Ober, in addition to how the district Republicans will be casting their votes between Ognibene and Como. Much of the final results will depend upon voter turnout and how effective the different campaign organizations are in getting out their candidate's vote.

Another aspect of this race is two district wide mailings that have been sent out during the past several weeks personally attacking Ognibene and Ober. These mailings were unsigned, anonymous letters with no return address. One of the letters attacking Ognibene was sent out under the title of "Crowley's Crusaders." Both the Crowley and Como campaigns have denied involvement.

In the race for the 26th state Assembly District of Bayside, Whitestone, Douglaston and Little Neck, Republican Robert Speranza has indicated his plans to challenge state Assemblywoman Ann Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside). Speranza is a Community Board 11 member and retired police officer.

He intends to raise awareness of the lack of discipline in public schools, which makes it difficult for serious students to learn. He feels there should be more public fund accountability, especially in education. He wants to see state funding for special schools geared toward dealing with students with self-discipline problems.

Speranza also intends to address the difficulty of senior citizens living on fixed incomes in this time of rising inflation. He believes there should be more open reporting of public expenditures at the state and city level. He has indicated that, as an elected official, he would be attending civic meetings himself, rather than sending a representative.

2008 promises to be an intensely active political year. How well the presidential candidates do in Queens will affect the other state and federal office races. Political situations can and do change rapidly, as exemplified by Ognibene's aligning with state Sen. Serf Maltese (R-Glendale) in 1995. He helped Maltese become county chairman that year and served for several years as second-in-command within the county Republican Party. Today he is an insurgent running in the 30th Council District against Como, who has been endorsed by the county Republican Executive Committee.

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