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Voters in Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights are awash in mailers this week as former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate battles state Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) in a special election set for Tuesday.
Monserrate was expelled from the Senate based on the events surrounding his girlfriend Karla Giraldo, whose face was slashed with a broken glass during an argument in Monserrate’s Jackson Heights apartment in December 2008.
After losing an appeal seeking an injunction against the expulsion in Manhattan federal court, his attorney, Norman Siegel, was expected to argue the case in the Second Circuit Appeals Court Friday. If the court issues an injunction, the election and the replacement process will be postponed indefinitely.
The voting will take place at the same polling places used in standard elections. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Peralta, who has the endorsement of the Queens Democratic Party and many public employees unions, has raised $389,032, according to the state Board of Elections. Monserrate has raised $112,366 during the same time. The Republican candidate, Administrative Law Judge Robert Beltrani, did not have an official campaign fund listed on the state BOE Web site by press time Tuesday.
One Monserrate mailer referred to Peralta, a supporter of same-sex marriage rights, as the “gay caballero.” Monserrate, in turn, has been attacked by mailers from the political action committee Fight Back NY, which is dedicated to replacing the state senators who voted against same-sex marriage last year.
Monserrate also came under fire for his campaign’s logo — a “Q” shape that closely resembles the emblem used by President Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign.
Monserrate touted his contributions to the community, including helping to bring new schools to one of the most overcrowded districts in the city and procuring $5 million to renovate Travers Park in Jackson Heights.
“These are all real tangibles I can point to directly,” he said, referring to Peralta as “the other guy who has delivered close to zero for our community.”
“I will be more than happy to match my legislative record of protecting women’s right to privacy in the workplace to Monserrate’s record of assaulting his girlfriend in his bedroom,” Peralta said in an e-mailed response.
The election has also created a rift between Monserrate and his former chief of staff, City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), who was elected to Monserrate’s old seat and set up her district office next door to his. Ferreras has endorsed Peralta.
“The Hiram Monserrate that I knew for so many years no longer exists,” she wrote in a guest editorial for the Spanish-language paper El Diario. “The new Hiram Monserrate — he who was found guilty in a violent attack on a woman, he who collaborated with the Republicans in Albany to paralyze the function of government during the worst economic crisis we have suffered in New York in almost a century ... that Hiram Monserrate does not represent the civic and human values that we in Queens so appreciate.”
In the meantime, an interesting race is shaping up to replace Peralta in the Assembly if he defeats Monserrate. So far, Corona activist Francisco Moya and Jackson Heights lawyer Bryan Pu-Folkes have thrown their hats into the ring, but rumors have circulated Monserrate may also run for the seat if he loses.
Monserrate declined to discuss any contingency plans if he loses.
“The fact of the matter is that on the 16th of March, I expect to be re-elected by this community,” he said.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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