While the post of borough president doesn’t have much responsibility when it comes to legislation, they can act as a powerful voice in advocating for the borough, and they do get millions of dollars each year to dole out, which is can be a pretty nice perk and win them lots and lots of friends and admirers. (As well as allow them to tackle some of their pet projects without having to worry about too much oversight.)
Turning out attention to Queens, it was already a crowded race with some high-profile names. Councilman Leroy Comrie, former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, and State Senator Jose Peralta have all publicly stated their interest in the post.
And former Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, who was recently appointed Queens County Clerk, has already filed her candidacy with the Campaign finance Board. Likewise, so has Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik, himself a former assemblyman and current employee of Queens Borough Hall.
And Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., who has raised millions in campaign funds, has hinted strongly that he might spend some of that money to make himself the next borough president of Queens.
Now add another name to that growing list.
State Senator Tony Avella has announced that he, too, will mount a bid for the post. It may seem like a long shot with so many other names in the race and the fact that Avella often finds himself at odds with the Queens County Democratic Party, which will be heavily influencing this race, but remember that Avella also ran a citywide race for mayor in 2009, which many would undoubtedly consider an even crazier endeavor.
So don’t expect Avella to suddenly bow out of this race if he has already made up his mind to run.
What makes this race interesting is that each candidate has a strong base of support, but each in a different part of the borough. Having represented south Queens for years, Pheffer is well known in neighborhoods like Howard Beach and the Rockaways. And Peralta gets a lot of support from the Hispanic community and in neighborhoods like Corona and Jackson Heights.
Meanwhile, Comrie has southeast Queens wrapped up, and Avella is viewed as a strong voice in northeast Queens and enjoys a favorable reputation as a political maverick in neighborhoods like Bayside and North Flushing.
And Vallone is an institution in Astoria and western Queens, while Katz is a familiar face and will no doubt have neighborhoods like Forest Hills and Rego Park sewn up.
We guess the strategy in this race becomes, what candidate can siphon off enough votes from their opponents’ established bases? With so many seasoned political figures throwing their hat in the ring, this should be an exciting race to watch…we can’t wait for the debates.
We’re just not sure if the Board of Elections can handle getting all of those names on the ballot for the Democratic Primary!