Candidates for Abel’s seat raise funds for 2001 race

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With the elections for City Council still 15 months away, most candidates for Councilman Mike Abel's (R-Bayside) seat have begun the fund-raising that will become the lifeblood of their campaigns.

So far the most successful of the several Democratic candidates for the 19th Councilmanic District has been Arthur Cheliotes of Bay Terrace, who has raised more than $54,000, according to the city's Campaign Finance Board website.

Candidates who have filed for the 2001 race in the 19th District include Cheliotes, Bayside civic leader Jerry Iannece, Democratic district leader Tony Avella, and Bay Terrace activist Joyce Shepard. Abel's council district covers the communities of Bayside, Bay Terrace, Douglas Manor, Whitestone, College Point, Auburndale, Beechhurst, Malba, Linden Hill, and parts of Douglaston, Little Neck and Murray Hill.

As of yet no Republican candidates have come forth to run for Abel's council seat while the Democratic field has been crowded with hopefuls aiming for a chance to win the post. Abel, one of the three Republican council members from Queens, has held the seat for two terms and must give it up because of a new law limiting elected city officials to two terms.

Most of the current council members will be forced out of office next year because of term limits. Abel has been raising money for a shot at Borough President Claire Shulman's seat, which will be empty next year after the longtime politician steps down.

The city's Campaign Finance Board website, last updated on July 21, listed Cheliotes as having donations of $54,925 from 189 contributors, far outpacing fellow candidate Tony Avella, who has raised nearly $35,000.

Avella's donations have been made by more than 230 contributors, while candidate Iannece has raised a bit more than $10,000 from 63 donors.

Vocal community activist Shepard, who announced her candidacy for Abel's City council seat in May, has not raised any money for her campaign, according to the city's web site.

Financial information for candidates from across the city is available under the public disclosures section of the Campaign Finance Board's web site at www.cfb.nyc.ny.us/index.htm.

A spokesman for Cheliotes' campaign said the candidate's fund-raising success has been the result "of hard work."

"It's no secret he is serious about running for electoral office," spokesman Scott Levenson said of Cheliotes. "He's obviously well-respected."

The group called Friends of Jerry Iannece, who is president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association, said in a statement last week that his $10,175 was raised from contributors who live mostly within the 19th Councilmanic District.

"This clearly demonstrates his wide-range grass-roots support and popularity from within northeast Queens and is an accurate indicator of his likelihood of success," the statement said.

Iannece ran for the 19th District seat in 1997, but did not defeat Abel, who has held the seat for two terms.

Updated 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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