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Race begins for Addabbo’s Council seat

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In the days after City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D−Howard Beach) defeated state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R−Glendale), the focus is shifting to the special election to decide who will succeed Addabbo for the 32nd Council seat.

So far, Democratic District Leader and Community Board 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio said he will run and Republican District Leader Eric Ulrich said he is all but declared but others are expressing interest.

The councilman got a head start on naming his preferred successor when he endorsed Gulluscio during the South Queens Democratic Club meeting Jan. 30.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be responsible for setting a date for a special election for Addabbo’s seat. Such contests are usually scheduled for February.

Both Gulluscio and Ulrich have been actively campaigning since before Addabbo’s victory and were the only two fliers with the city Board of Elections for the November race.

The 60−year−old Gulluscio has raised more than $32,000 and spent $5,872, according to the latest city Campaign Finance Board filings. Ulrich, 23, has raised more than $28,000 while spending $19,627.

Gulluscio said the faltering economy was the prime issue of the campaign and said his experience would suit the district, which covers Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways.

“We are in serious economic times,” he said. “My mantra for the campaign is going to be ‘No on−the−job training.’ ”

He said his qualifications include being Addabbo’s director of educational affairs during the councilman’s first term, along with his being the district manager of Community Board 6 and a Democratic district leader. Gulluscio said he also co−owned a United Skates of America franchise with a college friend and was a teacher in public and parochial schools.

“That’s the key to this race — who really is qualified,” he said.

Ulrich, a district leader and the president of Our Neighborhood CIvic Association of Ozone Park, said he believed quality of life was the prime issue.

“I think this district has seen a decline in the quality fo life, whether it’s noise complaints or graffiti,” he said.

Ulrich said although he is a Republican, he would vote independently if elected to the Council.

“I don’t take any cues form any party bosses,” he said. “If we had a councilman who put people first, not politics, we could get a lot done.”

Sam Di Bernardo, a retired Howard Beach schoolteacher who ran for Congress in 1976 against Addabbo’s father, Joseph Addabbo, Sr., said he is also interested in running in for the younger Addabbo’s seat.

“I won’t let this special election slip by me. I’m interested in running,” he said. “I’m running because I feel I’m the best person for the job.”

A perennial candidate and Democratic district leader from the Rockaways, Lew Simon said he was exploring his options and would make a decision in the next few weeks.

“I’d like to hear from the people first,” he said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

Posted 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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