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Vallone eyed judgeship before City Council run

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Paul Vallone, a Flushing attorney, was also deemed qualified for judicial positions months before he announced a run for the northeast Queens City Council seat, records showed.

Each year the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commissions releases a list of candidates for various judgeships, detailing their qualifications for different positions before the November elections.

In the most recent results made public last summer, Vallone was listed as a qualified candidate for Supreme Court justice and highly qualified for judge of the Civil Court. Both ratings will stand for three years, the commissions said.

Just months later, Vallone announced his Democratic candidacy for the seat held by Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) with a kick-off Jan. 8 in Whitestone. Campaign finance records also showed Vallone had been collecting funds for the Council run as early as October 2012 — less than five months after his judgeship qualifications were released.

Vallone said he was proud of the recognition from the election commission, but it in no way interfered with his Council campaign.

“We are 100 percent committed,” Vallone said. “The year 2013 is my commitment for Council. Last year it was another process.”

Judicial candidates are barred from directly or indirectly engaging in any partisan political activity, which includes running for public office, according to the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics.

Since Vallone never actively campaigned for any judgeship, he said his qualifications served as milestones in his more than 20-year legal career. He even keeps the qualifications hanging up on his office wall, Vallone said.

“If you have an independent review board saying you’re qualified to be a judge, then I think that’s a great thing,” Vallone said. “It can only recertify your credentials as a candidate for public service.”

Vallone was not the only candidate for public office in Queens listed in the judicial commission’s annual report of rated candidates.

The 2011 list showed former candidate for state Assembly Jerry Iannece as qualified for judge of the Civil Court but not qualified for Supreme Court justice.

But his timeline was a bit more spread out, with Iannece announcing his candidacy for the Assembly in April 2012 — more than eight months after the qualifications were released.

Iannece did not comment in time for publication.

Vallone ran for the same 19th District Council seat, which eventually went to Dan Halloran in 2009.

The Democratic primary field hoping to unseat the Republican also includes Paul Graziano, an activist and urban planning consultant; Austin Shafran, a former member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration; and former Assemblyman John Duane.

More candidates have also been rumored to join the race, including former Council candidate Kevin Kim, since Halloran was arrested earlier this month on federal corruption charges.

The district covers Little Neck, Bayside, Douglaston, North Flushing, Whitestone, Auburndale and College Point.

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

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Aug. 1, 2013, 3:26 pm

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