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Ulrich wins Council seat vacated by Sen. Addabbo

The special election in the 32nd City Council District to replace former Councilman and now state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D−Howard Beach), took place on Feb. 24 with four candidates participating — two Republicans and two Democrats. The winner was Republican Eric Ulrich by a decisive margin. Ulrich, 24, is now the youngest Council member.

There were more than 7,000 votes cast in this election. Ulrich received over 3,400, close to half of the votes cast. His closest opponent, Democrat Lew Simon, was trailing by around 800 votes. The other two candidates, Republican Mike Ricatto and Democrat Geraldine Chapey, were far behind.

This district, which mainly includes Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Hamilton Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways, was represented by Addabbo for seven years before he won the 15th Senate District seat by defeating Republican Serf Maltese last year.

As of this writing, Ulrich has not yet been sworn in, since his nearest rival, Simon, has not as yet conceded and wants all the paper ballots counted first. But the election will be certified Tuesday, when Ulrich will be declared the official winner.

Ulrich credits his victory to a well−organized grassroots campaign and a larger−than−expected turnout, which seems to have benefited his candidacy. He believes the issue of transportation was a key subject among the voters of his district in terms of bus service and bridge toll costs.

He said, “The voters put their trust in me. I look forward to working for their interest. I have a job to do and I intend to do it.”

It should be noted that since this was a special election, the regular election to fill this seat will be held this fall, barely eight months away. Therefore, there will soon be a replay of this election. This time, however, Ulrich will be running as an incumbent as he faces a Democratic challenger.

As for the race in the 19th Council District in northeast Queens to replace Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside), a three−way primary seems to be forming among Democrats, which will include Jerry Iannece, Debra Markell and Paul Vallone.

On the Republican side, Queens Republican County Chairman Phil Ragusa has announced that four prospective Republican candidates have recently appeared before a screening committee. The designated organization candidate will be chosen from among those four: Tim Furey, Joe Gravagna, Frank Macchio and Dan Halloran.

It will be determined later whether any of the three unsuccessful Republican candidates will challenge the chosen organization candidate in a Republican primary.

Presently, it does not look good for Mayor Michael Bloomberg in terms of getting the Republican Party endorsement for re−election. There seems to be little enthusiasm among the county leaders or active members for giving their party’s endorsement to the mayor.

If the Independence Party does not endorse him, he will be left with no party ballot to run on except possibly the Working Families Party. He will have to form his own independent party to achieve ballot position, which is not easy. So far, two Republicans, businessman John Catsimatidis and former Council Minority Leader Thomas Ognibene, have expressed an interest in running for mayor.

Next year, control of the state Senate will be a major concern for both major political parties. Ragusa pointed out that whichever party controls the Senate after next year will be in charge of redrawing the Senate district lines.

He said, “I think the future looks bright. I have confidence we will take a few City Council seats.”

Reviewing the mayor’s race, Bloomberg’s position is similar to that of the late Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, who wanted to run for a fourth term in 1945. He discovered none of the five Republican county chairmen would support him. LaGuardia dropped out of the race.

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