Political Action: Ognibene cites experience in bid to return to Council

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The 30th City Council District in western Queens promises to be a competitive race this year, with incumbent Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) being challenged by former Councilman Thomas Ognibene. The recent political history of this district is unusual, since there have been two special elections for the seat during the past year. Crowley won the last election in November.

Ognibene spent 10 years as councilman, representing the district from 1991-2001. Most of that time was spent as the Republican minority leader. He gave up the seat in 2001 due to term limits. He feels he has more experience than his opponent, especially when it comes to the handling of city budgetary matters.

He has a lot of experience running for public office, considering he has won three elections in the district and lost a close special election in this same district in the first special election last year. In addition, he was briefly a Republican candidate for mayor in 2005.

Ognibene considers quality-of-life issues important, especially dealing with traffic congestion and parking. He is involved in initiating a lawsuit on behalf of the Juniper Park Civic Association in opposition to the building of a new high school in Maspeth, due to toxic chemical waste in the soil at the proposed building site. This project has been halted pending a court review.

Ognibene also favors maintaining police staff levels at the 102nd and 104th precincts, as well as providing the police in these areas with up-to-date vehicles and equipment. He also intends to give attention to the maintenance and upgrading of public parks in the district. His campaign seems to be going well in terms of petition-gathering and fund-raising.

In a statement, he said, “I am looking forward to an honest and fair campaign, running on my previous record and commitment to the community.”

In the state Assembly special election being held in the 38th District after the resignation of Tony Seminerio, on the Democratic side attorney Albert Baldeo has announced his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination. He has indicated both his petition drive and fund-raising efforts are going well, with $167,000 raised and 2,000 signatures gathered. He has not as of yet obtained the official endorsement of the Democratic Party county organization. It is possible they may not endorse anyone.

There may be other Democratic candidates, but that will not be known until the designation petitions have been filed and approved by the Elections Board. Baldeo also indicated he expects state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) to endorse him, since he endorsed Addabbo last year in his successful race against former Sen. Serphin Maltese.

The Republican candidate in that race, community activist Donna Caltabiano, has been endorsed by her county organization and is expected to wage a strong campaign.

Queens Independence Party Chairwoman Molly Honigsfeld has announced her citywide party organization is circulating petitions for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She indicated, however, the party is not endorsing anyone for public advocate or city comptroller.

Pertaining to the Conservative Party, Queens Chairman Thomas Long has stated it will not be supporting Republican or Democratic candidates for mayor, public advocate or comptroller. Instead, it will be running its own slate of candidates. These candidates include Stephen Christopher for mayor, a Baptist minister from Brooklyn. In the past, he has run for state Senate. Rounding out the slate is Frank Vernuccio of the Bronx for public advocate and Stuart Avrick of Manhattan for comptroller.

In all, Queens will have some of the most interesting local races in the city.

Updated 6:34 pm, October 10, 2011
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