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Queens's 30th City Council District, covering Middle Village, Glendale, Maspeth and Ridgewood, is the first contest of the political season and has attracted interest citywide. This election could be considered three campaigns in one: After the special election ends June 3, a petition drive begins for another election for the same seat a few days later. The second election, however, will be channeled through the regular political party system with the candidates competing in a primary for their respective party nomination.

The Republican and Democratic party primary winners will then face each other in the 2008 November general election. The candidate who wins the June 3 election will have an incumbency advantage. Presently, there is no shortage of candidates.

The registered voters who have signed petitions for the special election will be called to sign petitions again. This time next year there will be another 30th District race, including a primary and general election. It is an unusual process, to say the least.

Presently, it is unclear how many candidates will emerge from the petition process in terms of obtaining enough signatures to get on the ballot and withstanding petition challenges. It seems Republican candidate Joseph Suraci and Democrat John Seminerio, both of whom entered the race late, were having difficulty obtaining enough signatures to qualify for ballot positions. Suraci had filed general objections against the petitions of Republicans Thomas Ognibene and Anthony Como, both of whom filed their petitions before the other candidates.

Since this is a non-partisan campaign, each candidate can choose a name for what amounts to their own political party. The earliest filed petitions include Ognibene's Experience Counts Party and Como's People First Party.

An important aspect of this race involves third party endorsements, including from the Conservative and Independence parties. Three candidates applied for Conservative endorsement: Ognibene, Como and John Seminerio. The Queens Conservative Party, with one abstention, unanimously endorsed Ognibene for the 30th District seat. QCP Chairman Tom Long has indicated that his party expects to play an active role in the district campaign.

On the Democratic side, in addition to Elizabeth Crowley, who has the Democratic Party County Organization's official endorsement, at least two other Democratic candidates are competing. This situation could split the party vote among the three or more candidates, which could improve the Republicans' chances of victory. The same thing, however, could be said if there are three or more candidates from the Republican party, thereby possibly improving the Democrats' chances.

Returning to petition challenges, Democratic candidate Charles Ober has indicated that the DPCO has threatened to challenge his petitions and try to remove him from the ballot. If they do follow through and challenge Ober's petitions, the question is will they also challenge Seminerio's petitions, considering that his father is state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill), who has represented the 37th Assembly District for almost 30 years?

John Seminerio first ran for City Council in the 2001 primary against Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), who won. He has, however, gained much political experience by participating in numerous political races in past years, including some of his father's past campaigns.

He intends to make overdevelopment in his district a major issue in this campaign, as well as zoning enforcement and building codes. He said there has been a 600 percent increase in building density in the district during the last few years. He also mentioned how one- and two-family homes are being replaced by huge multi-dwellings, which are changing the community's residential character.

This election promises to be a real fight before it is over, with two general elections and one primary scheduled in the weeks and months ahead this year.

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