Saturday, January 3, 2009

Special Election Date Announced by Pervaiz Shallwani--

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City voters will head to the polls Feb. 24 in a special election to fill three City Council seats, including the post vacated by the embattled Hiram Monserrate of Jackson Heights.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the date of the election yesterday.

Under the City Charter, Bloomberg had to wait until the council seats were officially vacated at the start of the new year before announcing the election. Several candidates already are vying to fill the seats, all of which were held by Democrats.

Winners in the special election will fill out the remainder of the four-year terms, which run through Dec. 31.

Monserrate, 41, who was elected to the state Senate in the November general election, faces charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon for allegedly slashing the face of Karla Giraldo, his girlfriend, with a broken glass during an argument in his Jackson Heights apartment last month.

Prosecutors said the slashing occurred because the couple was arguing over an item Monserrate had found in Giraldo's purse. But in court papers, Monserrate said he tripped while bringing his girlfriend a glass of water, causing the injuries.

Giraldo, 30, who received 20 stitches above her left eye, has denied that Monserrate assaulted her.

He is due back on court next week. If convicted of the charges, he would have to resign his Senate seat.

The other two seats being vacated were those of Joseph Addabbo of Howard Beach and Michael McMahon of Staten Island.

Addabbo was elected to the state Senate, beating out long-time Republican state Sen. Serphin Maltese of Glendale. McMahon was elected to the House seat once held by disgraced Rep. Vito Fossella, a Republican.

Fossella did not seek re-election after his drunken-driving arrest in suburban Virginia in May led to revelations that he had a child from an extramarital affair. Fossella, who is married with three children, was convicted in October. His five-day jail sentence is pending his appeal for a jury trial.