Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Council Seats Open: Special Elections Slated to Fill Former Addabbo, Monserrate Spots by Lisa L. Colangelo - NY Daily News

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Campaign season is over for state lawmakers but it's just beginning for City Council wannabes vying for two Queens seats that will be vacant come Jan. 1.

That's when Councilmen Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and Hiram Monserrate (D-Jackson Heights) will take office in Albany as state senators.

Several candidates already had their sights set on those seats, since term limits would have forced both councilmen out of office by the end of 2009.

Those open seats are even more enticing now that Mayor Bloomberg's push to suspend term limits will allow many incumbent Council members to run again in 2009.

A nonpartisan special election for both seats is slated to take place in February.

Frank Guuluscio, a longtime Addabbo ally, started fund-raising for that Council seat earlier this year. But he said he put his campaign "under the radar" during the final months of Addabbo's campaign to keep the focus on that vital Senate race.

"I was with Joe everywhere for his Senate race," said Gulluscio. "We're a great team."

Gulluscio said his experience as a teacher, businessman, Democratic district leader and district manager make him the top pick.

"There's no learning curve here," he said. "Community boards are like little City Halls. We're doing constituent service every day."

He may face competition from Republican Eric Ulrich.

Ulrich, a 23-year-old legal assistant from Ozone Park, said he will decide in the next two weeks whether he will run.

"People really want me to run. My phone is ringing off the hook," said Ulrich, a GOP district leader who has been active in local civic groups. "People are looking for change even on the local level."

He compared the district to a "seesaw" that has elected both Democrats and Republicans.

The race to replace Monserrate involves warring factions of local Democrats.

Monserrate's chief of staff Julissa Ferreras and local activist Francisco Moya have said they will run for that seat.

Moya, who has worked for Gov. Paterson, said his experience makes him the best pick.

"I'm a homegrown boy from Corona," said Moya, a 33-year-old government affairs representative at a large media company. "I started a block association when I was 15 years old, when I saw the neighborhood was changing."

The Corona Gardens Neighborhood Association has now grown to 100 members, Moya noted. "We need some changes to happen in our community," he said. "It's not about creating little political fiefdoms."