Candidates make final push

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When voters go to the polls Tuesday to decide who will replace Nettie Mayersohn as District 27’s representative in the state Assembly, they will be faced with a choice between a seasoned veteran of state government and a newcomer looking to bring change to Albany.

After being held by Mayersohn for 28 years, the seat became vacant in April when the legislator retired, and a special election was scheduled to decide who will succeed her in the post.

The candidates, Democrat Michael Simanowitz and Republican Marco DeSena, are two different men with deep roots in the local community but divergent political outlooks.

Electchester resident Simanowitz, 40, worked as Mayersohn’s chief of staff for the past 15 years, and he touts his experience with her as one of the key reasons why he should be the district’s next Assembly member, as he says he will be able to “hit the ground running” if elected.

College Point native DeSena, a former Republican district leader and former staffer for Mayor Rudy Giuliani during his failed 2008 presidential bid who currently works as an adjunct professor at Baruch College and a freelance communications consultant, said he will bring a fresh outlook and will not play politics as usual if he is elected.

Simanowitz, a father of four, Queens College graduate and former city Department of Housing planner and community liaison, said he will continue Mayersohn’s legacy of dedication to constituent services if elected.

Issues he hopes to focus on include education, public safety, jobs and ensuring people are able to continue to afford to live in the district, which includes parts of Flushing, College Point, Pomonok, Fresh Meadows, Electchester, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill.

DeSena, who was promoted as an “outsider” by Queens Republican Party Chairman Phil Ragusa when he entered the race, is running as a reformer, hoping to bring a fresh eye to the tired storylines of Albany.

DeSena cites jobs and the economy as his main focus, but he said he would also prioritize tax, budget and ethics reform, and that he hopes to work with other legislators from both parties to affect real change.

Simanowitz has the clear lead in fund-raising, with $85,052.15 on hand as of Sept. 6, according to state Board of Elections records.

DeSena has not filed either his required 32-day or 11-day pre-election campaign finance reports, but he had just $9,463.50 on hand as of July 6 — at which time Simanowitz had $105,788.93 — according to the records.

Both candidates said Tuesday that they have clear strategies for the final stretch of the campaign.

“The strategy is going to be just to continue to do what we’ve been dong since the begin of June, and that’s knocking on doors, speaking to constituents, listening to their concerns and getting the message out there,” Simanowitz said.

“We’re mobilizing volunteers, we’re going to start doing phone banks, robo-calls. We’re sending out our mailers this week, we’ll be doing an endorsement press conference,” DeSena said. “I’ll be doing the stuff I’ve been doing like hitting senior centers and going door to door.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 7:09 pm, September 14, 2011
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