Boro president hopefuls submit fund-raising numbers

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Tallies are in for the first round of campaign filings for the Queens borough president race, though the city’s public financing program is designed to even the playing field between the haves and have-nots.

Some of the candidates barely raked in any cash and others boasted a seven-figure war chest, according to the most recent filings with the city Campaign Finance Board.

The Democratic field includes state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), City Councilman Leroy Comrie, Director of Community Boards Barry Grodenchik, former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria).

Avella, who was recently re-elected to his Senate post in November, raised the least amount out of the five hopefuls, bringing in $6,857 by the first filing deadline of Jan. 15, according to the board. He is set to hold his first fund-raiser in late January. Many of the donations came from retired contributors and from the neighborhood of North Flushing.

Contributions came in from Henry Euler, of the Auburndale Improvement Association; activist Ben Haber, an urban planner; and Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association President Janet McCreesh.

Comrie’s filing was not available by press time.

Grodenchik pulled in $56,773, according to filings with the board. Grodenchik, who recently stepped down as deputy borough president to raise money, has held two fund-raisers.

One was at the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates, and the other was an event for the Chinese community in downtown Flushing. He received contributions from Community Board 7 Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian, Queens Clerk Audrey Pheffer and Daniel Zausner, managing director of the United States Tennis Association National Tennis Center.

Peralta, who was re-elected to his Senate seat about two months ago, has about $134,680 in his coffers, according to the board. He pulled in contributions from several unions, including the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Police Captain’s Endowment Fund. He also received many donations from the neighborhoods he represents. New York Mets and Sterling Equities owner Jeff Wilpon also chipped in some cash.

Katz raised $280,844, according to the board. Katz, who stepped down from her lobbying position at Greenberg Traurig in November, held a fund-raiser in October. Some of her contributors included Bruce Bendell of Unisphere Inc., unions including Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, numerous donations from Forest Hills and Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis.

Vallone has raised about $1 million, but donations to his account date back to 2007, according to the board. Vallone, who is term-limited out of his Council seat, said he approached the maximum funding over the summer and decided to take a break from asking for contributions.

“We are humbled to have had such tremendous financial support from the people of Queens for my candidacy for [borough president] that we were almost fully funded by last summer and were able to suspend our fundraising efforts for this cycle and could concentrate on putting a great team together and discussing issues throughout the borough,” he said.

The board’s public matching program chips in $6 for every $1 given by a New York City resident up to $175. Borough president candidates can get matching funds up to $795,300, according to the city Campaign Finance Board.

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

Updated 3:50 pm, January 17, 2013
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