Gennaro’s rivals quit race

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Then there was one.

Candidates have been dropping like flies in the race for the City Council’s 24th District seat, and it appears City Councilman James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows) will have no challengers in his bid for re−election this year.

Out of the three candidates who said they were going to run for the seat, two have confirmed they will not run against the two−term incumbent.

Community Board 8 Vice Chairwoman Martha Taylor and Dilip Nath, a community activist from Fresh Meadows, said they pulled out of the race once they were informed Gennaro would run for a third term.

Michael Simanowitz, chief of staff for state Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D−Flushing), did not return a phone call about the matter, but Gennaro said all of the candidates “who had formed campaign committees indicated to me that they are not going to seek to challenge me.”

Nath said he decided to leave the race in order to back Gennaro.

“Democrats need to be united,” said Nath, who added he expects to run again for the seat in four years. Gennaro would not be able to run again in four years because of term limits.

Gennaro, 52, voted against the term limits extension last fall, but he said he decided to run for a third time to continue his focus on environmental and economic issues in the district, which covers the communities of Fresh Meadows, Kew Gardens Hills, Briarwood, Electchester, Hillcrest and Jamaica Estates.

“I was not supportive of the way the term limits extension went through, and I thought it was a decision that should have been left to the voters through a referendum,” Gennaro said. “I voted no against the wishes of the entire political, business and press establishments. But I decided to run again because I have a lot to offer in terms of experiences, ability and resolve.”

Gennaro lost a contentious race against state Sen. Frank Padavan (R−Bellerose) to represent the 11th Senate District in February. Padavan was declared the victor after a drawn−out court battle. He ultimately beat Gennaro by 480 votes.

Gennaro, chairman of the Environmental Protection Committee, said he has been successful in pushing through legislation to protect the environment. He pointed to several bills he helped to author in May dealing with brownfields, wetlands and green buildings.

The brownfields legislation, passed by the Council, will develop a comprehensive program for the remediation and reuse of brownfields — abandoned or underused industrial and commercial sites — throughout the five boroughs.

The wetlands bill, also passed by the Council, requires the city to identify all remaining wetlands and develop a conservation strategy for them.

The green buildings legislation, again approved by the Council, requires owners of existing buildings over 50,000 square feet to make energy efficiency improvements to their buildings once every 10 years.

“If you look at my environmental agenda, it’s also an economic agenda,” Gennaro said. “It’s about green jobs. It’s the way we’re going to pull ourselves out of this economic downturn, by revitalizing the economy and growing green jobs. The brownfields remediation, that’s jobs. The green buildings legislation, that’s Local 3 electricians putting in lighting all over New York City.”

Gennaro said he has worked hard to restore Jamaica Bay, put more clean−air vehicles on city streets, and fight drilling in the upstate watershed that provides the drinking water for city residents.

“My career objective starting from the age of 18 was to make environmental policy in government,” Gennaro said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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