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The race for the Democratic Party nomination in southeast Queens' 15th State Senate District is gearing up to be quite a primary contest. City Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) is the candidate who has been endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party Executive Committee. He is the son of late U.S. Rep. Joseph Addabbo Sr., who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 26 years.

Addabbo is being challenged in a Democratic Party primary by insurgent candidate Albert Baldeo, who ran two years ago against the incumbent state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), who also had Conservative and Independence party endorsements. This year, Maltese will again have those two parties' support.

Baldeo did not face a Democratic primary in 2006 and lost the general election to Maltese by less than 1,000 votes. Baldeo has pointed out that he received 17,000 votes on the Democratic line in 2006 and Maltese 14,000 on the Republican line. The votes of the Conservative and Independence parties gave Maltese his narrow victory.

As a result of the critical role of third party endorsements, Baldeo sought and failed this year to obtain the Working Families Party endorsement, which has been given to Addabbo. He is now in the process of forming his own independent third party called the "Hope and Change Party."

If he loses the Democratic primary, he will still be able to run in the fall general election by using his own third party designation. This development could have a significant impact on the general election, with some votes that might have gone to Addabbo instead of Baldeo.

Baldeo's campaign seems to be shaping up as a major effort. He said he expects to have over five times the amount of petition signatures he needs to get on the ballot. Also, Baldeo has mentioned that he has raised over $400,000 for his state Senate campaign. He also has the advantage of having the experience of running for the 15th State Senate seat before.

In terms of issues, Baldeo intends to emphasize neighborhood safety, better education in public schools, more after-school programs and overdevelopment in his district. He also indicated that he heads a community-based organization opposing air and noise pollution that generally works toward improving the environment.

Addabbo speaks about his record on the City Council, especially as chairman of the Civil Service and Labor Committee, where he initiated a procedure for city agencies to submit written reports to the City Council regarding hiring and promotion practices. Addabbo has indicated that his information gives the City Council vital input in judging legislation.

Addabbo is especially proud of his role in providing additional transportation services for the people of his district by initiating ferry service from the Rockaways to Brooklyn and Manhattan. He is also interested in helping provide more jobs and improving his district's schools.

Addabbo wants his constituents to have an improvement in quality-of-ife issues, like combating crime and overdevelopment so they will continue to live in the district and not move away. He stressed that candidates for public office should not only tell what they want done, but how they are going to do it.

Baldeo has raised the issue of the 2002 property tax increase of 18 percent and the fact that Addabbo voted for it. In response, Addabbo mentioned that at the time the city government was faced with a $6 billion deficit and without the tax increase would have closed firehouses and possibly libraries. At the very least, it would have led to libraries being open for fewer hours. He also indicated, however, that last year property taxes were lowered and city services in some areas were increased.

So the Democratic Party primary struggle continues in the 15th State Senate District. This primary's winner will face Maltese, who has served in the state Senate for 20 years. This is an important race because with the Republicans having a two-seat majority in the state Senate over the Democrats, this race could determine which party controls the state Senate next year.

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