Sunday, January 30, 2011

Queens Dems Back Pheffer for County Clerk by Howard Koplowitz -

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Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer says she will accept an appointment to Queens County clerk if a presiding judge picks her for the position. Photo by Christina Santucci

Queens Democrats have recommended state Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach) for Queens County clerk to fill the post left vacant by the death of Gloria D’Amico.

“If it’s offered to me, I will take it. I’ve been in office 24 years and I would love to be offered this opportunity,” Pheffer said of the position. “I know the Queens organization can make a recommendation and they recommended me.”

The presiding judge of the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, A. Gail Prudenti, is responsible for choosing the next Queens County clerk.

Prudenti is an appointee of former Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, who selected her as presiding judge in 2002. D’Amico had been county clerk from 1991 until her death last month.

D’Amico was the first woman to be appointed county clerk and began her political career by joining the Taminent Regular Democratic Club in Astoria and rose to Democratic district leader in 1970.

“I knew Gloria D’Amico loved her job ... so that’s the job I’m looking for now. I think it’s a people’s job, but you [also] have to deal with the public,” Pheffer said. “It’s a position I would find interesting.”

Before the county clerk position became open, it was no secret Pheffer had her eye set on running for Queens borough president — an ambition she put off after the city’s term limits law was changed and Borough President Helen Marshall decided to run for a third term.

Pheffer would not rule out running for borough president even if she were appointed county clerk.

“Politics is a funny thing,” she said. “Borough president is three years down the road. This is an opportunity that’s here now.”

If Pheffer were to get the post, Gov. Andrew Cuomo would most likely call for a special election to fill her Assembly seat.

“There’s always a lot of names” that come up for her seat, said Pheffer, who singled out her chief of staff, Joanne Simon, as her preferred successor.

“If she wants to run, I think it would be a wonderful opportunity,” Pheffer said. “If Joanne ran, I would endorse her.”

Other names being floated include Democratic District Leaders Frank Gulluscio, Lew Simon and Geraldine Chapey. All three have run unsuccessfully for City Council.

But if things do not work out for Pheffer, she said she still loves her current job.

“I’m happy being the assemblywoman,” she said.