2002-06-05 / Political Page

Queens Dems Present All-Inclusive Ticket For District Leaders

By John Toscano

The Queens Democratic organization headed by Thomas Manton is supporting candidates for district leader who, if elected, will change the face of the organization to reflect changes in the borough’s general population.

Following up on last year’s City Council elections, in which the County organization backed the candidacies of Hiram Monserrate and John Liu, respectively, the first Hispanic and Asian American elected to the city’s legislature, Manton’s group has now endorsed Uma Sen Gupta, a South Asian, as the first of her ethnic group to hold a district leader’s post in the newly created 25th Assembly District, Part B.

The organization has also endorsed two gay men, Jimmy Van Bramer and Danny Dromm, for district leader positions.

A fourth change being backed by the organization is that of Jeff Gottlieb, 60, a long time political activist, who gained support for the 27th AD (Flushing) state committeeman post after dropping plans to challenge Assemblymember Nettie Mayersohn in the primary for the seat she has held for 20 years.

Gottlieb is a leading borough historian, was chief of staff to former Councilmember Morton Povman and is now on Councilmember David Weprin’s staff.

When Gottlieb withdrew from the Assembly race, Mayersohn, who is also a district leader, offered him the state committeeman post.

In a game of musical chairs typical of elections held on newly drawn lines, the state committee post opened up when incumbent Michael Simanowitz left it to run for the male district leader job, which became available when incumbent Barry Grodenchik opted to run for the newly drawn Assembly seat in that area.

However, Grodenchik, Simanowitz and Gottlieb face challenges, from Ethel Chen and candidates for party positions on a slate supported by former Councilmember Julia Harrison, who announced she will oppose state Senator Toby Stavisky for the newly created state senate seat in the Flushing area. As can be seen, it will be all-out war in the Dem primaries on September 10.

FIRST SOUTH ASIAN DEM LEADER? Returning to 25th AD and Part B district leader candidate Sen Gupta, she is being supported by Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin and his recently renamed William Jefferson Clinton Democratic Club of Queens, of which she is a member.

Sen Gupta was born in India and emigrated to the United States in 1970. She became a Democratic activist and community leader. Professionally, she is educational director of the Rainbow Montessori School in Flushing.

In accepting the candidacy for district leader, she stated that she was "both proud and honored to have this opportunity to help make the American political process, which attracts so many foreign-born to its shores, not just a dream, but a reality."

McLaughlin, who is also president of the million-member New York City Central Labor Council, a huge multi-ethnic organization, said of Sen Gupta’s nomination: "What more fitting first act of our newly named club than this demonstration of our commitment to continuing the Clinton legacy of inclusion of new Americans as all-Americans?"

Sen Gupta’s candidacy was celebrated last Sunday by the South Asian community in Richmond Hill, which is now part of McLaughlin’s new district. He described the area he represents as a long, narrow enclave from Whitestone to Richmond Hill. At the reception at the Gurduwara Sahib Temple at 113th Street and 101st Avenue, McLaughlin was also cited for his efforts on behalf of the South Asian community.

BREAKING GAY BARRIER: In endorsing Van Bramer and Dromm for district leader posts, Manton and the Democratic organization chose two veteran gay political activists. Van Bramer, 32, ran in the Democratic primary for City Council last year and came in second to Helen Sears. Dromm, 46, a school teacher in Community School Board, District 24, has been active in the district and ran for a School Board 24 post in the past.

MORE HEVESI ENDORSEMENTS: Coming off an impressive showing at the Democratic convention late last month, Alan Hevesi, 62 (we mistakenly added a few years in a recent column), has kept up the momentum in his bid for the Democratic nomination for state comptroller by adding 14 local club endorsements to his list of supporters. The clubs are located in Manhattan, the Bronx and Westchester.

Hevesi, describing the clubs as "the lifeblood of the party," welcomed their support. He also promised further club endorsements as well as announcements of support from labor unions.

The veteran Forest Hills pol boasts a wealth of experience in fiscal affairs as he seeks the state’s top fiscal watchdog post—his eight years as city Comptroller and membership on fiscal-related committees during his years as an Assemblymember.

COUNCIL CAMPAIGNS: Although it seems as if Councilmembers Eric Gioia (D–Woodside) and Tony Avella (D–Bayside) completed their successful initial campaigns only yesterday, they’re already thinking of their re-election campaign which is scheduled for next year.

Gioia and Avella are holding fundraisers in two weeks on June 19. Gioia’s is at the City Hall Restaurant, 131 Duane St., in downtown Manhattan, from 6 to 9 p.m. to be hosted by Council Speaker Gifford Miller.

Avella will hold his affair at the Bourbon Street Restaurant, 40-12 Bell Blvd., Bayside, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Avella has also scheduled a fundraiser at $1,000 per guest on June 25 at the City Hall Restaurant from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for reservations to either one, call (718) 762-0235.

CANDIDATES NIGHT: Former Councilmember John Sabini could have some company on the primary ballot as he seeks the Democratic nomination for the proposed new state Senate seat in Jackson Heights. At a candidates’ night last Thursday night, three other people with intentions of seeking the new seat showed up, Rudy Greco and two Hispanics, Charlie Castro and Nestor H. Diaz. The map makers in Albany dubbed this an Hispanic seat, but that never disqualified anyone not Hispanic from running in the past.

At the event sponsored by La Gran Alianza de Queens, three would-be candidates for the proposed new Assembly seat, also created as an Hispanic district, showed up. They are Jose Peralta, the Queens Democratic organization’s designee, Francisco P. Moya and William Salgado Jr.

GOP CLUB MEETS: The Maspeth Republican Club will hold its final meeting before the summer break next Wednesday evening, June 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Kowalinski Post; 61-57 Maspeth Ave., Maspeth.

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