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Avella miffed at poll ignoring his ‘09 run

City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said he will introduce a bill that would allow candidates for city offices to qualify for full public funding of their campaigns and blasted a recent Quinnipiac University mayoral poll that omitted his name from the roster of potential candidates.

Avella announced legislation last week called "Clean Money, Clean Elections" that he said would require Council candidates to raise just 500 donations of $5 each to receive full public financing of $100,000 for the September primary and another $100,000 for the November election.

"The system has not only proven to be ineffective but is also failing as fund-raising for many candidates exceeds optional spending limits," he said of the city's current partial-funding campaign structure. "In the upcoming election cycle, many candidates are certain to decline public matching funds because their fund-raising totals will greatly exceed the accompanying spending limits."

Candidates who run for city office can currently receive public matching funds to make them less dependant on large contributions. The program also assists candidates who are not able to secure large contributions. The purpose of the city's program is to make elections more competitive.

Avella said his system would also reduce the influence of special interest groups and lobbyists as well as making it easier for independent candidates to run for office.

The councilman, who is running for mayor this year, also said he was upset that a recent Quinnipiac University poll on the upcoming race for the city's highest office excluded his name.

"How can the poll be taken seriously when it fails to include one of the candidates?" Avella said. "This is the second poll that Quinnipiac conducted that failed to include my name among the list of potential candidates."

In the poll, Queens voters gave Mayor Michael Bloomberg a 42 percent approval rating and viewed him as the top candidate in the 2009 race, but 57 percent were also in favor of keeping term limits, which would prevent Bloomberg from running for a third term.

Far behind Bloomberg 12 percent of voters approved of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills).

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz received 7 percent from voters in the poll, while City Comptroller William Thompson drew 6 percent, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) got 3 percent and Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum received 2 percent.

Avella also received a surprise endorsement this week from actress, model and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson, who sent the councilman a dozen yellow roses after he introduced a bill that would ban the city's horse drawn cab operation.

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

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