Today’s news:

Gov’t watchdog, union endorse Kim, Halloran

The candidate who has raised the most funds in the race to replace City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) picked up a key endorsement from a major government watchdog group that promotes good government last week, while the race’s sole Republican received a nod from one of the city’s largest unions.

Democrat Kevin Kim, who lives in Bay Terrace and acts as deputy director of community affairs for U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), was endorsed Friday by The Citizens Union, a nonprofit organization that promotes better government and political reform in the city and state.

Dan Halloran, an attorney who is the only GOP candidate in the race, picked up the support of the city’s District Council of Carpenters and Joiners, which represents 21,000 laborers in the five boroughs.

The other candidates seeking to replace Avella, who is running in the mayoral race rather than going for a third Council term, include Democrats Jerry Iannece, Paul Vallone, Debra Markell, Tom Cooke and Steve Behar.

Kim, who was recently endorsed by Ackerman, said he agreed with The Citizens Union that city government needs to be cleaned up.

“The voters of the 19th District agree with me and the Citizens Union that we need to bring real change to City Hall, to remove the special interest lobbyists, the corruption and political patronage from the city’s legislative process.”

Halloran, who has also been endorsed by the Queens County Republican Party, said the carpenter’s union was a “major victory” for his campaign, considering he was running against six Democrats. He vowed “to work tirelessly to ensure that our working middle class is not forgotten by City Hall.”

The race’s other candidates have also received high-profile endorsements. Vallone, the son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother of Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), received a nod from Mayor Michael Bloomberg last month, while Iannece, Community Board 11’s chairman, has been supported by the Queens Democratic Party and the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Avella has thrown his weight behind Behar.

Campaign finance records from July showed Kim led fund-raising in the race with $233,102, while Vallone raised $135,526 and Iannece had $67,295. Markell, a Whitestone attorney and Community Board 2’s district manager, had raised $40,811, while Behar had received $25,403 and Cooke, a disabled veteran who has acted as board chairman for the United Spinal Association since July 2008, had $20,030. Halloran had raised $9,205.

The district covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Whitestone, East Flushing, College Point, Bay Terrace, Auburndale and Malba.

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

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