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Vanel doubles down in bid to unseat Clark

State Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (l.) is gearing up for a primary election against Clyde Vanel of Cambria Heights set for Sept. 13.
TimesLedger Newspapers

State Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village), who has represented southeast Queens neighborhoods for 13 terms, is facing a primary challenge from Cambria Heights resident Clyde Vanel, who is not afraid to put his money where his mouth is.

In his effort to unseat Clark from the 33rd District — which covers Cambria Heights, Hollis, St. Albans, Queens Village and Bellerose — Vanel has raised nearly $10,000 from family members and individual donors.

He has also taken out about $25,000 in loans as well as a four-year lease on his Cambria Heights campaign headquarters.

“We have to win, so we doubled down on this space. We’re using it now as if we were a resource for the community and a community center,” Vanel said. “I see the office is going to be used the way it’s being used now.”

Clark, on the other hand, began with just shy of $8,000 left over from her 2010 campaign and raised just about another $5,000, mostly from contributions from the campaigns of state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).

Clark, however, said she was not fazed by her challenger’s checkbook.

“With regard to campaign finances, I can steadfastly say that I have never felt the need to develop a war chest to keep potential challengers at bay. I ask my constituents for money when I need money and they have always been gracious and supportive in their response,” she said.

“I believe that my campaign finance reports also demonstrate my independence as a legislator,” Clark added. “I have never been bossed or bought by anyone in terms of the choices and decisions I make on behalf of my constituents.”

Vanel, a lawyer by profession and former restaurateur, said if elected he would make jobs his first priority, focusing on cutting the bureaucratic red tape hampering small businesses.

Clark runs on a pro-labor platform and voted in support of increasing the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour.

Vanel said he would support implementing a living wage for large businesses that could afford to pay it, but would be wary about placing an extra burden on small businesses.

“We could put in a living wage bill, but we still don’t have jobs,” he said.

Vanel has never held public office, though he challenged City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) in 2009 and Clark in 2010.

Clark sits on the Assembly Education, Labor, Rules, Children and Families, Labor and Libraries and Education Technology committees.

The Democratic Party primary is scheduled for Sept. 13.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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Reader Feedback

Norman Jones from Cambria Heights says:
It will be an interesting race.

Where is Vanel? Is he a member of a civic association? Has he joined any local non-profits? What does he do other than running for election?

Still, Barbara has been there for a while. I guess it is good for the district because she has seniority.

I just don't like the negative attack ads by anyone. Vanel started it.
Sept. 1, 2012, 11:37 am
Norman Jones from Cambria Heights says:
It's going to be an interesting race.

Where is Vanel? Is he a member of any civic? Is he a member of any non-profits? What does he do? I know he keeps on running.

For Barbara, she is been there for a while. I guess it means she gets seniority up there and more stuff for the district.

Finally, no more attack ads Vanel! I am tired of it. First Romney and Republicans against Obama and even our own people are doing it.
Sept. 1, 2012, 11:39 am
Shirley Johnson from St. Albans says:
Clark has been in the Assembly for 26 years. She ran 13 times and the community is suffering. Seniority and more for the district? Her seniority brought nothing to the district. It is time for new ideas and new blood. It is time to clean up Albany. Clark has steered so much money to her own organization while the rest of the community is suffering. I am voting for Vanel. Charlie Rangel and Clark need to retire!
Sept. 1, 2012, 3:02 pm
joe from queens village says:
Barbara clark has done very few for the district, she isn't that bad of the politician but represents the establishment which has not done much, southeast queens is not doing so great compared to other areas
, folks though southeast queens would be great, not perfect but a great middle-class area that would have decent services and while it may not be glamorous
it would work, unfortunately the only southeast that it is becoming, is the back burner, much like not paying attention that corner slice, vanel has at least proven
himself in the real world, seniority has not done much for the district, its not wrong to attack and be negative
to someone's record, atleast vanel you can read about his non-political experience and while that does not translate into making it into politics, the energy and skills he seems to have.
Sept. 2, 2012, 6:50 pm
Frances Joseph from Hollis, NY says:
The only thing that I know about Barbara Clark is her name and mailings about what she has done for our communities. I lived in my community for 4 years and have not seen anything going on in the community....It seems as if our community has been left out.....We need a fresh start, with fresh ideas, and a leadership that would impact all the communities in the District....I want hear about events that is going to take place in the community, I want to see improvements in our children's education, I would like to feel like their is hope for tomorrow....that I why I am believing in voting for Vanel....Change can only happen if you believe in it...
Sept. 4, 2012, 2:11 pm
Established Homeowner of 40 years from Cambria Heights says:
I have been a resident of the Cambria Heights community for 4 decades and I can honestly say that listening to Clyde Vanel at the Candidates Forum Debate was very refreshing. It is time to give our youth a chance to represent. After all, this is why we fight so hard for them to have an education. We must allow them the opportunity that other communities afford their youth. We do not nurture our young leaders instead we discourage them by electing the same people repeatedly and then have the audacity to complain!!!! Let's give ourselves the boost we so desperately need. I am voting Clyde Vanel!
Sept. 5, 2012, 10:52 am
john from queens village says:
A successful businessman does not make a great politician, but it seems vanel is a bit different, and even if he weren't, clark has not proven herself,
you can read about vanel in various papers, he is willing to take risks and has spirits, have you read about barbara clark and her personal life, no, okay your personal life is your business, but at least with vanel he demonstrates what he has been through,

I am a bit suprised by norman asking whether vanel who is new on the scene is a member of non for profits or civic associations, that is not necessary, but folks
are skeptical by newcomers, every politician says and attacks folks thinking they know it, but clarke
has not really down much, vanel is promising, his website doesn't really feature too much rhetoric
and attacks but tells his personal life with photos, of course this not an endorsement of him, as I said before , great business folks do not necessarily make great politicians for better or worse, because politicians are well politicians, still he seems not just a breath of fresh air but someone who has done something in real life, unlike the gregory meeks and so on.
Sept. 8, 2012, 1:18 am
Mark from Cambria Heights says:
I'm glad Ms Clark won. If I ever had an issue I went to her and found her and her staff to be communicative and responsive. Mr Vanel does seem to be engaging. However, his unfair criticisms of Ms Clark were distasteful. They motivated myself, and my friends, to get off the sidelines and get active and work for the Clark campaign. We are not machine activists, just folks who decided to do right by someone that has historically done right by us. Mr Vanel should take note of that as I doubt that I'm an outlier. Sometimes negative campaigning produces the opposite outcome from that which is desired.
Sept. 14, 2012, 10:02 am

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