Photo by Joe Anuta
By Joe Anuta

One candidate hoping to replace City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) kicked off his campaign Saturday, while another bowed out of the race a day later.

Urban planner and activist Paul Graziano made his bid for the northeast Queens seat official at Bowne Park Saturday afternoon, flanked by a group of supporters.

Graziano is facing off in a Democratic primary against former state Assemblyman John Duane; Austin Shafran, former vice president of public affairs at the Empire State Development Corp.; and Community Board 7 member and lawyer Paul Vallone.

Democratic State Committeeman Matthew Silverstein announced Sunday he is dropping out of the race.

Graziano is hoping that his support in the northeast Queens civic world will bolster his campaign and credibility as a community activist.

At the kickoff, Graziano received personal endorsements from several leaders of civic groups in the district — including Henry Euler, of the Auburndale Improvement Association; Peter Brancazio, president of the North Flushing Civic Association; Bob Nobile, of the Little Neck Pines Civic Association; and Mel Siegel, of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners’ Association — although the leaders were speaking for themselves, in some cases because many of the associations are nonprofits and thus barred from endorsing candidates.

“One of the things I like best about Paul is that he’s not a politician,” Brancazio said. “He’s a community activist.”

After several leaders spoke, Graziano outlined some components of his platform, which focused on defending the quality of life for Queens residents.

“My campaign is very simple — protect your neighborhood. Do no harm,” he said, touting his credentials of fighting overdevelopment in several areas in the borough.

Graziano also discussed education and the need to wrest control from the mayor and give it to communities, and his opposition to giving, selling or leasing parkland for private development.

A day after Graziano spoke, one of his competitors ended his campaign.

“The past year has been one of the most difficult of my life,” Silverstein, who hails from Bay Terrace, said in a letter sent out to supporters. “In December, my mom passed away from cancer at the age of 66. My mom was an amazing woman who wanted me to continue fighting for the issues I care about. However, after consulting with my friends and family, I have decided to suspend my campaign.”

Warren Schreiber heads a civic in Bay Terrace, and was working on Silverstein’s campaign until Sunday’s notice.

Schreiber had not decided which candidate he would back, if he backs any, but his nod could be important for shepherding votes toward a particular contender now that Silverstein is out.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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