State Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village), who has represented southeast Queens neighborhoods for 13 terms, is facing a primary challenge from Cambria Heights resident Clyde Vanel, who is not afraid to put his money where his mouth is.
In his effort to unseat Clark from the 33rd District — which covers Cambria Heights, Hollis, St. Albans, Queens Village and Bellerose — Vanel has raised nearly $10,000 from family members and individual donors.
He has also taken out about $25,000 in loans as well as a four-year lease on his Cambria Heights campaign headquarters.
“We have to win, so we doubled down on this space. We’re using it now as if we were a resource for the community and a community center,” Vanel said. “I see the office is going to be used the way it’s being used now.”
Clark, on the other hand, began with just shy of $8,000 left over from her 2010 campaign and raised just about another $5,000, mostly from contributions from the campaigns of state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).
Clark, however, said she was not fazed by her challenger’s checkbook.
“With regard to campaign finances, I can steadfastly say that I have never felt the need to develop a war chest to keep potential challengers at bay. I ask my constituents for money when I need money and they have always been gracious and supportive in their response,” she said.
“I believe that my campaign finance reports also demonstrate my independence as a legislator,” Clark added. “I have never been bossed or bought by anyone in terms of the choices and decisions I make on behalf of my constituents.”
Vanel, a lawyer by profession and former restaurateur, said if elected he would make jobs his first priority, focusing on cutting the bureaucratic red tape hampering small businesses.
Clark runs on a pro-labor platform and voted in support of increasing the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour.
Vanel said he would support implementing a living wage for large businesses that could afford to pay it, but would be wary about placing an extra burden on small businesses.
“We could put in a living wage bill, but we still don’t have jobs,” he said.
Vanel has never held public office, though he challenged City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) in 2009 and Clark in 2010.
Clark sits on the Assembly Education, Labor, Rules, Children and Families, Labor and Libraries and Education Technology committees.
The Democratic Party primary is scheduled for Sept. 13.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@
©2012 Community News Group
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