Do or die for Council seekers

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Six candidates will compete next week to become the Democratic contender who will face Republican Dan Halloran in November in the race to replace City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

Democrats Steve Behar, Tom Cooke, Jerry Iannece, Kevin Kim, Debra Markell and Paul Vallone will face off Sept. 15 to score the Democratic slot. The winner will go up against Halloran, an attorney who has been endorsed by the Queens County Republican Party, in the Nov. 3 election.

The six candidates each took part in a debate hosted by TimesLedger Newspapers, part of the Community Newspaper Group, at Flushing Library Aug. 28, where they said overdevelopment, alleviating overcrowded classrooms in district schools, parking issues and increasing the number of police in Bayside’s 111th Precinct were the key issues in the race.

Behar is a Bayside attorney who has worked on more than 20 political campaigns, including those of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But the election to replace Avella marks Behar’s first bid for public office. He has been endorsed by Avella, the Queens County Progressive Democratic Club, Democracy for America and the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens.

Behar has raised $28,908 in private funds and $88,472 in matching funds from the city, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board. He has spent $117,269.

Cooke is a disabled veteran from Flushing who currently serves as board chairman of the nonprofit United Spinal Association. His first bid for public office was in 2006 when he ran against state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), but he eventually dropped out of the race to manage Democrat Nora Marino’s campaign.

Cooke has raised $23,434 in private funds and $48,814 in matching funds. He has spent $29,937.

Iannece is a Bayside attorney who acts as chairman of Community Board 11. He has long been active in northeast Queens as a member of numerous civic organizations and previously ran for Avella’s seat in 1997 and 2001. He has been endorsed by the Queens County Democratic Party, the District Council 37 union, the United Federation of Teachers and a number of elected officials representing Queens, including Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and state Assembly members Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck), Nettie Mayersohn (D-Flushing) and Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside).

Iannece has raised $108,840 in private funds and $101,966 in matching funds. He has spent $185,290.

Bayside’s Kim previously worked as a federal law clerk and a corporate lawyer before becoming deputy director of community affairs for U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside). He has been endorsed by Ackerman and The Citizens Union watchdog group. Kim, who was born in Korea and moved to Queens as a child, was also a founding partner of Yoon Suh & Kim LLP.

Kim has raised $288,756 in private funds and did not take part in the city’s public financing program. He has spent $245,140.

Markell, of Whitestone, is the district manager for Long Island City’s CB 2. She worked 18 years for Fortune 500 companies and, in 1997, ran for the Council’s District 20 seat. Markell has spent the past 11 years working in city government, such as acting as Queens director of the Community Affairs Unit under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Markell has raised $41,931 in private funds and $89,028 in matching funds. She has spent $60,515.

Flushing attorney Paul Vallone is the son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and the brother of Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria). He previously worked for the city Board of Correction and acts as manager of his family’s Astoria law firm. He has been endorsed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor Ed Koch, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills).

Vallone has raised $147,460 in private funds and $101,919 in matching funds. He has spent $154.964.

Avella, who was first elected in 2001, opted to run in this year’s mayoral race against Bloomberg and city Comptroller William Thompson, whom he will face in the Sept. 15 Democratic primary rather than seek a third term in the Council.

The district covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, College Point, Whitestone, East Flushing, Malba, Auburndale, Oakland Gardens and Bay Terrace.

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

Posted 6:29 pm, October 10, 2011
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