Forest Hills resident Joseph R. Nocerino announced Sunday he is jumping into the race for the 29th City Council seat now held by Melinda Katz.
Nocerino, a Democrat, ran once before for the seat. He lost in 2005 to Katz, who represents and lives in Forest Hills. The 29th District also includes Rego Park, Kew Gardens and parts of Maspeth, Richmond, and Elmhurst.
“I got my butt kicked by Melinda Katz,” Nocerino laughed. “If things change and she comes back in the race, I will not be in the race.”
Katz is now running for city comptroller, though she could technically drop out of that race and run again for her Council seat due to city lawmakers’ vote to approve the extension of term limits for a third four−year stint. Katz has repeatedly denied she will run for a third term and said she will remain in the race for comptroller, despite speculation that she could drop out of the comptroller’s race should current Comptroller Bill Thompson decides to run again instead of making a bid for mayor. Thompson too has denied he will run for his same position.
Nocerino, who has lived in Forest Hills for 25 years, is one of six candidates for the seat. Others running include Heidi Chain, Michael Cohen, Robert DeLay, Mel Gagarin and Lynn Schulman.
“It’s an interesting bunch of people who are running, but something that sets me apart is I’m the one with kids in the public school system,” Nocerino said.
Nocerino has three children — ages 7, 11 and 15 — in public schools. He said if elected he would work to mitigate school overcrowding.
“We’re overcrowded in the schools,” Nocerino said. “We’re pushed to the limits.”
Another major issue for the Forest Hills resident is the senior population.
“Seniors are concerned,” he said. “Costs of living are hurting them. We have to make sure they’re taken care of.”
Nocerino runs an employment agency, People Finders; is the founder and director of Kidz Care Junior Civic Association, a volunteer group of 120 area youth; and is a board member of the PS 144 Parents’ Association.
Additionally, he is the secretary of the Forest Hill Youth Activity Association, the director of the Forest Hills Youth Activities Association Girls Softball league and a member of the Forest Hills Civic Association.
Along with his three children, Nocerino lives with his wife, Sharon.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson
©2009 Community News Group
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