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Democratic primary candidates hoping to represent the seat currently held by state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) pulled in endorsements in the wake of a fracas involving a neighborhood civic organization’s controversial blog post.
Queens Democratic Party-backed candidate Jerry Iannece, chairman of Community Board 11, is involved in a Democratic primary with CB 8 member Nily Rozic, who served as chief of staff to Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan) until the campaign.
On Saturday, Rozic was endorsed by The New York Times, and last Thursday, she received the nod of several good government groups, which the first-time hopeful’s campaign said was crucial in the wake of indictments and allegations that have plagued members of the state Legislature.
“I am honored to earn the support of Citizens Union and Citizen Action New York, government reform groups that understand the importance of restoring fairness and transparency in our democracy,” Rozic said in a statement.
Iannece, on the other hand, last week received the nod from U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), though both are closely associated with the political party that also endorsed Iannece.
“I have seen Jerry work to improve Queens for over a decade as a community board chair and civic leader,” Ackerman said in a Sept. 5 statement. “He has been a strong and dedicated leader in his community and this experience will make him a great assemblyman in Albany.”
The endorsements came on the heels of a slightly more controversial nod from the Bayside Hills Civic Association, an organization that advocates on behalf of the residential area. Iannece headed the civic about a decade ago and is still a board member of the organization, which had adamantly supported his campaign.
An Aug. 20 post on the civic’s website referred to Rozic as an “instant opponent” and opined, “I have no idea why anyone would want to vote for the ‘instant opponent.’ My only guess is that it would have something to do with ethnicity.”
Rozic was born in Jerusalem, and the district in question — which runs from parts of Flushing to Douglaston and also includes most of Bayside Hills — has a large Jewish population.
The blog had also posted an interactive survey question asking visitors “How should an American decide on a candidate?”
The choices were: “Pick the candidate with the most experience and a long record of service to the community” or “Pick the candidate whose ethnicity is the same as yours, even if he or she is not qualified to hold office.”
Rozic’s camp blasted the posts, saying, “This divisive rhetoric has no place in this election, in Queens or in Democratic politics. We call on candidate Jerry Iannece and all elected officials to denounce this despicable attack as well as the group from which it stemmed.”
But Iannece’s camp denied any connection between the post and the candidate.
“Jerry Iannece hasn’t been president of the group for 10 years and has nothing to do with its website. He does, however, have a decades-long record of community involvement and strong supporters from every corner of this diverse community,” campaign spokesman William Watts said.
Michael Fernier, president of the civic, said the sentence containing the word “ethnicity” was taken down and that the question was removed from the site.
“It was taken down and I don’t want to talk about ethnicity anymore,” he said. “I’m a big supporter of Jerry Iannece. I am proud of all of his accomplishments and I hope he wins.”
The civic is not a tax-exempt organization, and thus can legally endorse and support one candidate over another.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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