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Padavan gains two major union endorsements

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The New York State United Teachers union and the 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East gave their nods of approval this week to state Sen. Frank Padavan (R−Bellerose), who is being challenged by City Councilman James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows) to represent the 11th State Senate District.

“On behalf of our 300,000 members, I am proud to endorse Frank Padavan, a true champion for quality health care, for re−election to the state Senate,” 1199 SEIU President George Gresham said in a release. “…All of us across the state need his independence and leadership in Albany if we hope to tackle the immense challenges we face while continuing to build on necessary reforms in health care, education and housing.”

Though 36−year incumbent Padavan said the endorsements are two of 40 endorsements that will help nudge his campaign to victory, Gennaro dismissed the support the unions threw behind his opponent’s campaign. The Democrat’s staff members pointed out that Gennaro has received a number of labor endorsements, including the United Auto Workers and the Hotel Trades Council.

“It’s ironic that Frank Padavan would be endorsed by a health care union when he was one of only 10 senators to vote against the Women’s Health and Wellness Act (S7657), which improved access to preventative health care procedures like mammograms, and one of only five extreme senators to vote against the Clinic Access and Anti−Stalking Act (S6146), which created stricter penalties for people who intentionally injure health care clinic patients and staff,” Gennaro said in an e−mail.

Padavan said he frequently supports access to mammograms, and he said he has made mammograms available for free, including sponsoring free mammography vans at Bellerose and Whitestone.

Gresham said Padavan has “led the fight” on a wide range of health care issues, including helping to keep Flushing Hospital open, modernizing Jamaica Hospital, battling to stop the consolidation of adult and child psychiatric centers, and expanding the Child Health Plus program so it covered more uninsured children.

Gennaro cited his own health care accomplishments, including sponsoring a law prohibiting smoking in public places and places of employment, supporting the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, and sponsoring a law that requires the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in residences throughout the city.

The nod from the state teachers’ union was Padavan’s third major education endorsement, and the City’s United Federation of Teachers and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators have also thrown their weight behind Padavan.

Gennaro criticized the state teachers’ union endorsement, saying Padavan has a “track record of pandering to special interests and only funding local schools after being forced to by a formal court order in the historic Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision.”

“Queens residents can’t trust that Frank Padavan won’t continue to shortchange our school kids during this difficult economic time,” Gennaro said via e−mail.

Padavan said he has always supported local schools and said he would not have received the three endorsements from education groups if he was not supportive of local education.

Though Election Day is less than two weeks away, Padavan and Gennaro are still fund−raising, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg hosted a $1,000−p­er−person fund−raiser at his East Side townhouse for Padavan Monday night.

Environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy hosted a fund−raiser for Gennaro Monday night, for which individuals paid $25 per ticket.

Gennaro has raised more than 2 12 times the amount Padavan has, and Gennaro has $435,453 in his war chest, compared to Padavan’s $164,175. Gennaro so far has spent $178,667 on his campaign, while Padavan has spent $113,610.

Posted 6:40 pm, October 10, 2011
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