Two hopefuls kick off beep campaigns

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (second from r.) stands with a group from Richmond Hill at a party to kick off his run for borough president. Photo by Joe Anuta
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Two candidates for the borough president’s chair kicked off their campaigns with fund-raisers this week.

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) hosted guests at Antun’s in Queens Village Sunday evening, while Barry Grodenchik, who recently stepped down from his deputy borough president post to run, took over a room at the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates Tuesday.

“I have a great track record of being a problem-solver,” Comrie said, indicating that one of his main goals, should he be elected this year, would be to ensure government is accessible to everyone.

The post is currently held by Borough President Helen Marshall, a Democrat who was first elected in 2001 and will have served the legal limit of two terms at year’s end. The Democratic field hoping to replace her also includes state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), former City Councilwoman Melinda Katz, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria).

The candidates’ first deadline for turning over fund-raising information is set for Jan. 15, although Comrie already had some cash tucked away in his 2013 account.

According to his last filing with the city Campaign Finance Board, Comrie had $61,000 in his campaign fund, but that only covered donations up until June 2012.

Although no lawmakers issued endorsements at the two events, Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) made an appearance at Comrie’s, as did other government colleagues of the councilman.

Bishop Charles Norris, who wields considerable clout in the southeast Queens community, did not endorse Comrie, but did call on the Lord to make things go the councilman’s way.

Days later in Jamaica Estates, Grodenchik was having a fund-raiser of his own, where former Borough President Claire Shulman and a representative of state Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz made appearances, but again no one was giving out any endorsements.

“I’m offering myself to the people of Queens to continue to work to solve the problems in our community,” he said, referring to eduction and parks as things he would like to focus on.

The deputy borough president once represented Flushing as a state assemblyman and had planned a special fund-raising event for the Chinese community for the following evening.

His Chinese name, Guo Den Qi, is a transliteration of his surname.

Grodenchik had high hopes for fund-raising, counting on the city’s matching funds program to make him economically competitive.

For each dollar given by an individual up to $175, the city will chip in six dollars for a maximum of $795,300 for borough president, according to the city Campaign Finance Board. The idea is to encourage more small donations and make money less of a factor when electing public officials.

Two other candidates, Katz and Avella, do not have any funds in their campaign accounts. Peralta has about the same as Comrie, a little more than $60,000.

Vallone, on the other hand, has more than $1 million in his coffers, according to the board.

Both Comrie and Grodenchik said they hope for the backing of the Queens Democratic Party.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) made an appearance at both events and has attended the parties of other candidates as well.

Crowley is the head of the organization, which will eventually endorse one of the candidates.

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

Updated 2:40 am, January 11, 2013
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