City pols praise Padavan’s work at Qns. Village dinner

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Former state Sen. Frank Padavan was his usual self at a Queens Village Republican Club dinner held in his honor Sunday after the political veteran suffered a minor stroke at his home late last month.

Padavan spoke toward the end of the evening and doled out many thanks to his friends and family, along with a few good-natured jabs.

“To quote America’s greatest humorist, the rumors of my demise were grossly exaggerated — personally, political or otherwise,” he said to boisterous applause after taking the stage at Antun’s in Queens Village.

The former senator has not lost any of his toughness. He cited a 1996 New York Times article that referred to him as “the curmudgeon of the state Senate.”

“I want to explain that,” he said. “It’s because I don’t take crap from anybody.”

But Padavan offered plentiful thanks to the people who have supported him throughout his 38-year stint as the Republican senator for the 11th District, which covers a large swath of northeast Queens. “To all of you, in so many different ways, thank you so much,” he said.

Republicans who praised the former senator from the borough and beyond included Sen. Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn).

Padavan even garnered bipartisan support in the form of state Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village), who thanked him for his service and for helping her with a bill problem before she entered politics.

“You’re the big ‘R.’ I’m the big ‘D.’ But that’s OK. We were both representatives of people in this room and in many parts of the community, and we worked very well together,” she said.

After the speeches concluded, Padavan said that he would not step out of the world of politics entirely.

“We’ll try to be as helpful as we can to everybody,” he said, referring to any community organization and fellow Republicans. “Many have already called for one reason or another.”

The evening was emceed by City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), who was an Eagle Scout when he first met the former senator.

“He’s been my senator for my entire life,” Halloran said. “When I decided to run for office, he came and guided me throughout. He still does.”

Padavan, who lost a fierce race for re-election against now-Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), leaves behind an important legacy, according to Halloran.

The former senator fought hard for education, mental health patient rights and fairness in the criminal justice system, he said.

Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) also spoke glowingly about the senator, but drew laughs from the crowd. He was encouraged to enter politics by Padavan three years ago, but heard that the senator was “very mean.”

Padavan’s loss in November was a loss for the Republicans as well, but Halloran said the party can bounce back in the future.

“I think the Republicans need to look at winnable seats,” he said, mentioning the seat of Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and Padavan’s former seat as possibilities. Serphin Maltese, former head of the Queens Republican Party, lost the seat to Addabbo in 2008.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 10:33 am, October 12, 2011
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