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Iannece to run for Assembly

Jerry Iannece (c.) shakes hands with city Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe at the ribbon-cutting for the Oakland Lake Park restoration last year.
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After looking at the newly drawn state Assembly districts, Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said he could not help but notice how it included much of his political and professional jurisdiction.

“It’s like a perfect fit,” Iannece, 52, said. “I looked at the new lines and thought someone was trying to draw a district for me.”

The new lines included most of Bayside Hills, where he lives with his wife and two children. Iannece, a former Bronx assistant district attorney, also works within the newly drawn lines as an attorney in Fresh Meadows.

Several weeks later, he announced he was setting up an exploratory committee to run for the Assembly seat currently held by Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) with hopes to take his work as a community board chairman to the next level.

“It’s a different mindset, but in many ways you have the ability to make an even greater impact as an assemblyman,” Iannece said in an interview. “It’s a different game. It’s a bigger body. But I still want to make sure I try to deal with some of those local issues as well.”

Lancman, who announced he was running for Congress and vacating his Assembly seat, said he was unaware of Iannece’s ambitions to run when he last saw him at CB 11’s April meeting the night before the announcement.

“He didn’t discuss it with me, but it’s not a surprise,” Lancman said. “I know he’s a very ambitious person and he’s run for many offices in the past.”

In 2009, Kevin Kim defeated Iannece in the Democratic Party primary for City Council in the district now represented by Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone).

Lancman said he would endorse a candidate for his seat, but has not yet made that decision.

Iannece said that although he was reluctant at first to throw his hat into the race for Lancman’s 25th District seat, he received overwhelming support from various civic and political leaders.

“Other people saw it as an opportunity for me first,” Iannece said. “A number of local leaders sat me down and said, ‘You really have to look at this. You really should do it.’”

And Iannece said he believes he has got all he needs to take that next step.

“I think I can do a lot. I’m good at it,” Iannece said. “I have major initiatives and projects that I’ve gotten off the ground.”

One of his major accomplishments from the local level, Iannece said, involved the $125 million Oakland Ravine and Oakland Lake project to fix flooding issues and restore a nearby ravine. Iannece said he spearheaded the project as a civic leader with the Bayside Hills Civic Association and helped garner solutions to a local problem.

“I know what buttons to push and I know how to get things done,” he said.

One major issue Iannece said he hoped to take on as an assemblyman was hydrofracking in New York. According to Iannece, the oil extraction procedure is harmful and dangerous to the state and its environment, regardless of the natural gas obtained as a result.

“There’s no bigger issue that’s facing us in our lifetime,” Iannece said.

The next steps, Iannece said, were to continue to gather signatures and raise money to support his run for the Assembly.

But given the support he said he has already received, the CB 11 chairman said he was confident in his ability to make it to the ballot in September.

“I’m one of those local grassroots civic leaders who understands the demographics, the climate and how to stay focused to get things accomplished,” Iannece said. “You can fight City Hall. You can get things done.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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