Crowley officially joins race for Gallagher’s Council seat

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Flanked by leaders of the Queens Democratic Party, Elizabeth Crowley officially announced her City Council bid from her campaign office at Glendale's Shops at Atlas Park, vowing to fight for improved education and quality-of-life issues in the district.

Crowley is one of five candidates running for the District 30 seat, which covers Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village and Ridgewood.

"I'm committed to improving the quality of life in the district, making sure seniors are well-served and that we keep the character of the neighborhood," Crowley said.

Other candidates include civic leader Charles Ober, former City Councilman Thomas Ognibene, city Elections Board Commissioner Anthony Como and attorney Joseph Suraci. All five candidates filed their petitions April 30 to gain entry into the race.

Under city election law, candidates cannot run on party affiliation in a special election because there will not be enough time for primaries to be held, an Elections Board spokeswoman said. But it is widely known that Crowley and Ober are Democrats, while Ognibene, Como and Suraci are Republicans.

A bevy of Queens Democrats threw their weight behind Crowley at last Thursday's press conference where she officially announced her candidacy.

Ober said he was told by the Queens Democratic Party that his ballot signatures would be challenged.

"I have decided not to challenge Crowley's filing of her signatures because I am standing up for the American ideal of democracy," Ober said. "Should Crowley decide to challenge my filings, the only purpose would be to manipulate the legal system to deny the voter a real choice."

Ognibene and Como, two of the race's three Republicans, took shots at one another this week after the former councilman accused Como of filing his petition early on April 30. The Board of Elections is not supposed to accept documents from candidates until 9 a.m., but Ognibene had a copy of the log from the agency's office, which showed that Como signed in at 8:25 a.m.

"Mr. Como was foolish enough to log in," said Ognibene, who accused Como of using his influence as a Board of Elections commissioner to file early. "It violates the law."

But Como said the board's offices open at 8 a.m. and that his documents were not stamped until after 9 a.m.

"[Ognibene] calls himself an election lawyer, but he does not know what time the Board of Election's doors open," Como said. "And it's not fair because the Board of Elections works very hard. He owes them an apology."

A Board of Elections spokesman said the first candidate to file their petition is listed at the top of the ballot on Election Day.

The election, which will be held on June 3, follows the resignation of former City Councilman Dennis Gallagher, who pled guilty in March to sexually abusing a 52-year-old Middle Village woman as part of a deal to keep him out of prison.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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