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As he heads into the homestretch, Republican and Conservative challenger Joe Concannon said he hoped to unseat state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in the Nov. 6 election by convincing voters they were better off two years ago.
“As many of you know, I have pledged to model my Senate office after that of [former] Sen. Frank Padavan, who served this community so well for so many years and who has been the exemplar when it comes to excellence in both constituent services and delivering for the community,” Concannon said.
Avella, the Democratic and Working Families candidate who was elected as senator of the 11th District in 2010, beat the more than 30-year incumbent Padavan, campaigning on shorter terms for public officials in the public sphere.
“Sen. Padavan was not effective in addressing the key things, such as women’s issues,” Avella said of his predecessor last week. “The voters rejected Sen. Padavan. We have to move to the future and not the past.”
Concannon approaches the November general election as Avella’s only challenger and said he believed his Republican message could resonate throughout the district, which includes neighborhoods in and around Bayside, Whitestone, Flushing and Jamaica Estates. Pointing to concerns over corruption in Albany, Concannon said Avella has not been hard enough on disingenuous politicians in government, particularly the scandal surrounding state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).
“He speaks one thing, but does another,” Concannon said, referring to Avella’s calls for Silver to step down after it was revealed the speaker had quietly approved the payment of at least some taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment claims by a staffer who had accused Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) of inappropriate behavior. “I don’t see the substance. If he really cared, he would have been pursuing this further.”
Earlier this year, Avella introduced legislation in the Senate that would reform the independent Joint Commission on Public Ethics, giving it the authority to investigate legislators and staff while reducing the panel’s membership from 14 to five.
“Though we may think we have made some reforms the past few years, we have not made a dent,” Avella said. “The culture of corruption in Albany will not and cannot change without a truly independent investigative ethics commission.”
Concannon, a retired captain of the New York Police Department and former public safety adviser to Mayor Rudy Giuliani, also accused Avella of supporting “anti-American ideologies” earlier this month in a robocall his campaign sent out to voters within the district.
The call, which referred to Avella’s attending September’s Muslim Day Parade in Manhattan, asked constituents, “Did you know that Tony Avella went to Manhattan to support a radical Islamic preacher who supports anti-American ideologies last week?”
Avella addressed the attacks, calling them despicable and saying Concannon’s robocall failed to mention his storming off stage at the event after one speaker made anti-American and -Israel remarks.
Moving forward, Concannon said he would campaign on the issues, such as reducing taxes and regulations and creating a smaller, more effective government, all with almost $100,000 less in campaign contributions, according to the city Board of Elections’ campaign finance records.
Earlier this week, Avella announced an endorsement he received from the Police Benevolent Association to tack onto his list, which includes the Flushing Letter Carriers Association Branch 294, 1199 SEIU and the Hotel Trades Council.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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