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A motorcycle enthusiast running for borough president may seem like the obvious choice for Queens gearheads, but lingering bitterness over a 2008 proposed law has the biker voting bloc backing rival candidates.
In the race for Borough Hall, one group supports City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), while another is lining up behind Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans). The two lawmakers are in a Democratic primary with state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), businessman Everly Brown and former Assemblywoman Melinda Katz.
Vallone’s cycle credentials include proposing a bill that would give riders free parking, since Muni-Meter receipts are often ripped from bikes by thieves or stiff winds.
He has also been seen cruising on his Harley Dyna Wide Glide alongside city Comptroller and biker John Liu, after traffic scofflaws, at the head of charity rides and at the handlebars dressed as Batman.
“I am supporting him and telling my club to keep him in mind when they go to the polls,” said Joe Sessa, president of the New York City Harley Owners Group, based out of Long Island City.
The club has worked with Vallone on the parking issue and also has invited him as the grand marshal of a rally to raise money to fight breast cancer that draws more than 300 riders. The most recent even was June 2, but just a day after Vallone’s ride, Comrie was also perched atop a motorcycle — albeit a parked one — outside Borough Hall for a campaign rally.
The lawmaker, while not a motorcyclist himself, earned the respect of other bikers after opposing a 2008 bill proposed by Vallone that would have regulated exhaust noise and allowed police to confiscate bikes after a certain number of infractions.
“Comrie, he was trying to help us fight it,” said Mark Brown, president of the Power Movez Motorcycle Club, where he is known by his nickname “Lunatic.”
“He would be a good borough president because he supports people,” Brown said, going beyond his support for Comrie by questioning Vallone’s riding credentials.
“I heard he just started,” Brown said. “There’s not much of a biker there if he tried to make a law against us and then learned how to ride.”
Vallone’s campaign said the lawmaker rode when he was younger, took a break and returned to the road about five years ago.
In the end, the councilman scrapped the proposed legislation anyway because he could not find a fair way to regulate the exhaust noise, which he said is excessive in some cases.
Sessa was behind Vallone’s legislative quest and said that a fair solution should be found.
When asked by about Vallone’s rival, Sessa said he was not familiar with Comrie.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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