Lively boro primaries enter final stretch

In the wake of State Sen. Shirley Huntley’s (l.) indictment, her opponent City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) has called for her drop out of the race.
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Indictments, mud-slinging and insurgent candidates have all made for an eventful primary season in New York, where hopefuls battled over state issues to try and move on to the general election in November.

The primaries for the Democratic, Republican and Independence parties will be over Sept. 13, when Queens voters are set to go to the polls.

State Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) is involved in a primary challenge from City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) and Far Rockaway resident Gian Jones, although she faces criminal charges.

Huntley grabbed headlines after she was indicted on charges of covering up a state investigation into the people running her nonprofit, which included her niece, after they allegedly misappropriated taxpayer dollars, according to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Shortly afterward, Sanders and Jones called on Huntley, who pleaded not guilty, to drop out of the race and resign from office, but the three-term lawmaker indicated in a statement that she will fight the charges.

A race marked by negative statements and accusations took shape in Flushing, where businessman and lawyer John Messer is taking on incumbent Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) for the second time after their first 2010 matchup. Each is raising questions about the others’ integrity, with Messer calling into question Stavisky’s record in the community and Stavisky taking shots at Messer’s past political affiliations.

Both have pledged to work on restarting the state’s economy through helping small businesses, but they differ on a few policy issues. For example, Messer supports charter schools while Stavisky opposes them.

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), a powerful Republican insurgent who has crossed swords with the county party but has received support and $10,000 from Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), is involved in a primary for a Senate seat stretching from Far Rockaway through Howard Beach and Ozone Park up to Forest Hills, Glendale and Middle Village.

His primary challenger is county-backed lawyer Juan Reyes.

Ulrich is also facing a primary on the Independence line from lawyer Joseph Tiraco, but political insiders are waiting to see, should Ulrich succeed, how much of a threat he will present to Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) for a seat many political insiders deem winnable for a Republican. Even Addabbo has conceded he might have a race on his hands.

Downtown Flushing is home to a crowded state Assembly race, with five candidates vying for a spot on the Democratic ballot and two others facing off on the Republican side. Many of the candidates have similarly vague visions of what they will do in Albany, although Ron Kim, Yen Chou and Ethel Chen have been having news conferences in the weeks leading up to the primary to discuss their platforms and tout endorsements.

In a race for the seat currently held by Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece, backed by the Queens Democratic Party, is running against Nily Rozic, former chief of staff for Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan).

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 2:29 am, September 6, 2012
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