Former aides enter sprint for vacant Assembly seats

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U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party, helped kick off the campaigns of two Democratic candidates seeking to fill vacancies in the state Assembly left by former Assemblywomen Nettie Mayersohn and Audrey Pheffer.

Both special elections are being held Sept. 13, Primary Day, the same day some Queens voters will head to the polls to pick a successor to dishonored former Rep. Anthony Weiner.

Mike Simanowitz, Mayersohn’s former chief of staff, is the party’s pick to succeed her in the Assembly.

Crowley pointed to the 15 years Simanowitz spent on Mayersohn’s staff to say he was qualified to fill her shoes.

“He knows this district like the back of his hand,” Crowley said of Simanowitz.

The district includes Flushing, College Point, Pomonok, Fresh Meadows, Electchester, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill.

“I look forward to be a voice for all of those communities,” Simanowitz said.

Crowley also noted Simanowitz served in the 107th Precinct’s auxiliary police department and was the youngest person to be deputy inspector of the auxiliary service.

Simanowitz said Mayersohn, who was among the elected officials who attended the kick-off Monday outside Queens Borough Hall, taught him how to be an effective legislator.

“I learned a great deal from Nettie,” he said. “I want to continue to fight for the people she has fought for throughout the years. I’m gratified by the outpouring of support I’ve received.”

Simanowitz said his campaign platform includes tax incentives for small businesses, which he described as “the backbone of our community,” and ensuring that Queens jobs stay in the borough.

He also criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan this year to shutter city firehouses, which was rejected in the budget agreement passed by the City Council.

“Public safety should not be and will not be a bargaining chip in the future,” he said.

Crowley also touted the credentials of Rockaway resident Y. Philip Goldfeder, who the Queens Democratic Party nominated to replace Pheffer in the Assembly.

The Dem chairman said Goldfeder “has been part of the fabric of the Rockaways his entire life.”

The district includes part of the Rockaways, Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Richmond Hill.

Crowley said Goldfeder, who previously served as U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) director of intergovernmental affairs, will not only make the district proud, but the rest of Queens as well.

Goldfeder said Pheffer created a void when she chose to accept the Queens county clerk position in June.

“I intend to fill that void,” he said.

Goldfeder, who also previously served as head of the Queens branch of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Community Assistance Unit, said his platform includes “strong qualificat­ions” and “genuine accomplish­ments.”

Crowley said both districts strongly lean Democratic, but the party will not rest on its laurels and think of Goldfeder’s and Simanowitz’s elections as inevitable.

“These are solid Democratic districts, but we take nothing for granted,” he said. “I know that Phil Goldfeder is going to do a wonderful job. I know that Mike Simanowitz is going to represent all of the communities. They are suited to represent these communities well.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 11:30 am, October 12, 2011
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