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Petition drives to mark start of this year’s election season

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The 2009 election will soon be in full swing as political parties announce their endorsements and the first stage of the New York electoral process begins with petition signature gatherings. Most of June and early July will be devoted to circulating petitions so candidates can qualify for ballot positions.

Candidates who have received official party endorsements will have an advantage in this process, since the party organization usually can put more people into the field getting signatures than insurgent candidates, who do not have organization support.

But the county organizations have other advantages they can and will provide for their officially endorsed candidates, including putting together and filing their candidates’ petitions with the city Elections Board. They also provide attorneys to defend organization petitions if challenged by insurgent candidates.

Insurgents, for example, running for City Council this year and who have not received their party endorsement must print their own petitions and get volunteers to help them circulate those petitions. It is a difficult process in which the insurgents are not only competing against other candidates, but also their county party organization as well — at least until the party primary elections are decided in September.

After that, whoever emerges as the primary winner automatically becomes the official party designee.

It can be said a political election can be divided into two parts, consisting of the petition drive and the election campaign. Of these, the drive has more importance than the campaign because, for the candidate whose petitions are not accepted, there will not be a fall election campaign. This means if there are two candidates competing for the same public office, if one has his or her petitions disqualified by the Elections Board, the other candidate wins by default and does not have to go through a fall election campaign.

Pertaining to Councilman Tony Avella’s (D−Bayside) seat, the Democratic Party County Organization has endorsed Jerry Iannece as the organization candidate for that office. The vote of the executive members was overwhelmingly in favor of Iannece over other candidates, including Debra Markell, Paul Vallone, Kevin Kim and Tom Cooke.

It remains to be seen which of these candidates will circulate petitions and wage a Democratic primary against Iannece, who has a considerable list of endorsements from labor unions, civic leaders and political district leaders.

On the Republican side for Avella’s seat, Dan Halloran is the party−endorsed candidate and will face the winner of the Democratic primary, if there is one. Halloran has also obtained the Conservative Party endorsement over Vallone after a narrow vote of the Queens Conservative Party Executive Committee.

Iannece and Halloran are attorneys and both are expected to wage tough campaigns.

The Independence Party will announce its endorsements with the city party organization to choose candidates for city comptroller and city public advocate. The state Independence Party will be endorsing candidates for borough president and the Council.

Recent past political history of Avella’s seat includes Avella having represented it for the past 7 12 years. Avella is presently running for mayor in a Democratic primary. Before that, Republican Mike Abel held the seat for the 10−year period preceding Avella. Abel was term limited out of office in 2001.

The seat has had interesting races in the past. This year will be no exception with an open Council seat being contested.

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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