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Political Action: Seminerio resignation leads to special election for seat

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With the fall of former Democratic state Assemblyman Tony Seminerio, who until his recent resignation represented the people of the 38th Assembly District in western Queens, a special election will be held.

Seminerio had served over 30 years, having been first elected in 1978. He had been continually re-elected every two years and had held four party endorsements. He is to be sentenced in October for soliciting illegal payments in his role as a public official.

This special election will be the only Queens Assembly race this year. With the Democrats holding the other 17 Assembly seats, this promises to be an interesting race. The Republican candidate who has emerged is Donna Marie Caltabiano, a lifetime resident of Ozone Park and Woodhaven.

She is presently the executive director of the Forest Park Senior Citizens Center and has worked in that capacity for over 14 years. Back in the days of local school boards, Caltabiano ran for a position on School Board 27 and won three times. In 1988, she was appointed by then-Borough President Claire Shulman to a position on Community Planning Board 9. During the 15 years she served in that capacity, she was chairwoman of the Traffic and Transportation Committee. She was also elected vice chairwoman of that planning board.

When asked about her most significant achievements during these times of community involvement, she pointed to when, during the 1980s as president of the Parents Association of PS 64, she initiated a 1 1/2-year project that led to the construction of a new auditorium, gym and five additional classrooms. She also mentioned that after first becoming Forest Park Senior Center executive director in 1994, in less than two years they had increased their services to center members by 25 percent without additional funding by reorganizing existing programs. This resulted in the center being open four days a week instead of three.

Some of the things Caltabiano would like to do if elected to the Assembly is have her district office centrally located and staffed by people from all parts of the 38th district. She intends to begin a district newsletter to her constituents, advising them of things happening in the district and also legislative progress in Albany.

When asked her what some of her main goals if elected would be, she said, “I intend to continue my efforts on behalf of senior citizens. This year, we almost lost our funding for Forest Park Senior Citizens Center. As a member of the state Assembly, I intend to make every effort to see to it that it does not happen again.”

She also believes the medical and other needs of our military veterans should be addressed considering the sacrifices they have made for our country.

On the Democratic side, attorney Albert Baldeo at present seems to be the leading candidate from the standpoint he ran for the state Senate in 2006 against then-incumbent Republican Sen. Serphin Maltese and lost by less than a thousand votes. With that impressive showing, he was expected to run again in 2008, but dropped out in favor of City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), who went on to win that seat.

This year, if he runs, he may face challenges from Nick Comaianni, a member of Community Board 9, the same board on which Caltabiano served, and Paul Gagliardotto of Glendale. Both sent e-mails to the TimesLedger saying there were running.

Caltabiano is the officially designated candidate of the Republican County Organization. The question is if Baldeo will be officially designated by the Democratic County Organization as its candidate.

In all, this contest should lead to a competitive race in the 38th District. It is about time, considering the people of the district have had the same Assemblyman representing them for over a quarter of a century.

Posted 6:33 pm, October 10, 2011
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