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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002
x-James F. Gennaro, Dem 14,825 - 88 percent
Barry S. Grodenchik, WF 1,759 - 10 percent
Lori M. Zett, Grn 350 - 2 percent
James F. Gennaro 5,080
Barry S. Grodenchik 4,487
David Reich 2,905
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)
Incumbent: Morton Povman (can't
run in 2001)
Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign
to Jim Gennaro
to Barry Grodenchik
to David Reich
to Lori Zett
Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District
The Rip Van Winkle of Queens
Things have been so good in the tree-lined neighborhoods of district
24 that residents have not wanted to change much of anything --
not even their City Councilman, Morton Povman, who has represented
the district since Richard Nixon was president, the longest serving
member of the council.
But change is coming. Term limits are forcing out Povman after
30 years, and the four candidates vying to replace him (three
Democrats, one Green) must address some new problems caused by
overcrowding, as many new residents have been attracted to the
Today, the population of the district is increasing faster than
housing can be built. Many landlords have taken advantage of this
shortage by illegally converting single-family houses into multiple-family
dwellings, often without meeting proper standards, which leads
to overcrowding and an increased risk of fire.
"The city must enforce its housing laws and must facilitate the
creation of more affordable housing," says candidate Jim Gennaro,
the environmental policy advisor for the City Council.
"Zoning is restrictive on home additions and those guidelines
need to be revisited," says another candidate David Reich, counsel
to State Senator Seymour Lachman of Brooklyn.
Barry Grodenchik, executive assistant to Queens Borough President
Claire Shulman, believes current laws are adequate, but stresses
the need for enforcement and renovating already existing housing.
"A few million dollars have already been granted to rebuild Pomonok
housing," says Grodenchik, talking about what some residents refer
to as the crown jewel of public housing. "We need to make sure
the money allocated to the project goes to the project."
Activists in the neighborhood are skeptical. "As long as illegal
conversion benefits some people in the district, the candidates
will only pay lip service to the issue," says Patricia Dolan,
President of the Kew Gardens Hills Homeowners Association
Queens is also home to the most crowded school districts in the
city, where 76 percent of elementary schools are operating above
capacity. All the candidates agree that something must be done.
"It sends a horrible message to kids when their classroom is
a bathroom, hallway, or cafeteria," says Barry Grodenchik.
"The schools are doing good work, but they need help," says Green
Party candidate Lori Zett. "They should be financed in an equitable
way. Depending on their need, schools should be entitled to funds
collected from other districts."
"The Board of Education should be under the mayor's control,
not the state's," David Reich says.
Gennaro hopes to lead the fight for more public funding for state
education at every level. "Our city's school system is experiencing
a drastic shortage of seats and teachers." But Gennaro, who also
teaches at Queens College, which is in district 24, believes that
not enough has been done to keep the City University system "a
world class and affordable institution. Budget cuts over the past
decade have eroded its affordability and stature."
While everyone agrees on the need for more schools, there are
fights over where to put them. The proposed site for Public School
499, an elementary school that will specialize in math and science,
is on the campus of Queens College near Reeves Avenue, but local
residents say the college already brings enough traffic to the
community and fear the school will add more congestion. They are
also upset about a proposed borough-wide lottery that will decide
who can attend, which means the school would not necessarily benefit
those who live across the street.
Not all the candidates stick to issues in Queens.
"I am horrified by U.S. labor law," says Lori Zett, who hopes
to use City Council to raise awareness about issues like the international
economic policy and the World Trade Organization. "American workers
have no protection!"
"You can't have smart economic policy without understanding environmental
issues," says Gennaro, who would use his seat on the council to
clean up and develop brownfields, abandoned sites of industry
in economically depressed areas.
Three of the four candidates have considerable political experience.
Barry Grodenchik has worked for nine years for Queens Borough
President Claire Shulman, who has endorsed him, as has the Queens
Party organization. Jim Gennaro was an aide in the Koch administration
and is a member of his local community board. David Reich has
been counsel to two State Senators. (An early front-runner, Jeff
Gottlieb, Povman's chief of staff, dropped out of the race).
Whoever wins will be expected to keep their community a stable
and quiet one, though they will perhaps do it less quietly than
Morton Povman, who refused to discuss the district he has represented
The race in district 24 remains as stable and quiet as the neighborhoods
themselves. For the past two months the slate of candidates has
not changed and according to the candidates no one is challenging
each other's petitions.
Jeff Gottlieb, Councilmember Povman's chief of staff, was planning
to run but withdrew from the race in May when he found that the
Queen's Democratic party was supporting Barry Grodenchik.
"Your withdrawing for the interest of the unity of the party
is noted and we owe you one," Queens Democratic Leader Thomas
Manton told Gottlieb, according to the Daily News.
Jim Gennaro has the endorsements of high profile Democrats like
former Mayor Ed Koch and environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy,
Gennaro recently took the lead in fundraising with net contributions
of $89,614 compared with Grodenchik's $79,100 and David Reich's
$27,421. Green Party candidate Lori Zett is still in the race,
but has not raised any money, according to the New York City Campaign
Jim Gennaro, a Queens native, began his political career
in 1983 by working in the Koch administration. He has served as
the New York City Council's Environmental Policy Advisor since
1990. He is also an adjunct professor of political science and
environmental public policy at Queens College. Gennaro has a bachelor's
degree in geology and environmental sciences and a master's degree
in policy analysis and public management from SUNY Stony Brook.
He lives in Jamaica Estates.
Barry Grodenchik has served as the chief administrative
officer to Queens Borough President Claire Shulman for nine years.
He began his political career in Mark Green's 1986 senatorial
campaign and also worked for Assemblymember Nettie Mayersohn and
Governor Cuomo. Grodenchik attended Binghamton University and
currently lives in Fresh Meadows.
David Reich is the chief of staff and head counsel for
State Senator Seymour Lachman. Reich has worked in the State Senate
since 1993 when he began as legislative counsel for State Senator
Emanuel Gold. He has a law degree from Cardoza Law School and
a bachelor's degree in accounting from Queens College. Reich lives
in Kew Gardens Hills.
Lori Zett is running as the Green Party candidate. She
is a labor activist who has worked in sales, publishing, and has
taught sculpture classes. Zett was born in Trieste, Italy and
moved to the United States when she was eight years old. She holds
a bachelor's degree in political science from Temple University
and a master's degree in labor issues from Columbia University.
Zett lives in Briarwood.
Newsday announces its endorsements in a number of Queens City Council races.
District 19: Jerry Iannece's "legal experience and community activism make him qualified. Each of his opponents - particularly Arthur Cheliotes, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1180, and the party-backed Tony Avella. . . is a credible candidate. But Iannece has the most innovative ideas for addressing the district's needs."
District 20. "John Liu, the party designee, could have avoided some last-minute controversy had he used better judgment. As a member of Community Board 7 in Flushing, he voted last year with the majority to approve a variance for a development company whose partners include a campaign contributor. Liu, an actuary, should have recused himself. . . . We hope he has learned something about appearances. Still, his energy and impressive command of the issues make up for his lack of political acumen. And while his civic service isn't as long as that of opponent Ethel Chen, he seems better suited to alleviate the tensions between old-time residents and new immigrants.
District 21. "Despite the ethnic conflict dividing various Latino communities in the district, the four candidates - all Latinos - are evenly matched. . . .Luis Rosero is the most appealing. . . .His background gives him intimate knowledge of government and politics. His contacts at the federal level wouldn't hurt, either. He also understands the common concerns of a diverse population."
District 22. "As a member of Queens School Board 30, John Ciafone has worked diligently on behalf of school kids. . . . But Ciafone made a mistake that we cannot overlook: His ads in a local weekly newspaper boasted of endorsements by mayoral candidates Fernando Ferrer and Mark Green. Such endorsements never existed. Ciafone says the ads should have read "supported," not "endorsed" - a stretch, to say the least. . . . That leaves Peter Vallone Jr., the party's designee. Voters get more than a name with Vallone. He helped found a community group to fight power plants in western Queens. And he has learned something from watching his father's success as Council speaker. Newsday endorses Vallone."
District 23. "David Weprin is a Democratic district leader, his brother is a state assemblyman, and their late father was Assembly speaker. By contrast, Jairam Thakral immigrated from India 30 years ago, got an MBA from St. John's and recently retired as chief financial officer of the State Veterans Home on Long Island. Thakral emphasizes his financial experience in dealing with city, state and federal governments. . . . He contrasts his "diversity" with Weprin's "dynasty." Weprin, a lawyer, was the state's deputy superintendent of banks. . . . Thakral radiates eagerness to improve the city's quality of life, but Weprin has more experience and a deeper knowledge of the district. We endorse Weprin.
District 24. "The three candidates are already on the public payroll. Barry Grodenchik is Borough President Claire Shulman's chief administrative officer. He emphasizes the downside of the 2012 Olympics, which he says could freeze development in western Queens and shut down much of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for years. James Gennaro has been a policy analyst for the City Council since 1990, specializing in environmental issues. He's positive on the 2012 Olympics but negative on destroying Flushing Meadows wetlands to create a rowing course for the games. David Reich, chief of staff to a state senator from Brooklyn, cites his experience drafting bills in Albany . Gennaro offers greater familiarity with the council and broader concern for the environment. We endorse Gennaro."
District 25. "The organization person in this multi-candidate race is Helen Sears, a longtime district leader and community affairs director at Elmhurst Hospital Center. . . . Louisa Chan, a nurse and three-term secretary of School Board 24, wants community school boards to have more power and the central board to be elected. Magdalena Schultheis, vice president of an international hospitality consulting firm, would like to cut back bureaucracy to produce more affordable housing. James Van Bramer, community affairs manager for the Queensborough Public Library, has been an activist for campaign finance reform as well as gay and lesbian rights. . . .Finally, Rudolph Greco is a lawyer, civic enthusiast and author of a children's history of Jackson Heights. Along with a dedicated tax to provide higher teacher pay and smaller classes, he would encourage corporate partnerships to improve schools. Greco is a convivial, seasoned, one-of-a-kind candidate with a shrewd grasp of the district's needs and possibilities. Newsday endorses Greco. (Newsday)
The New York Times today endorsed a candidate in this race.
District 24 (South Flushing, Jamaica Hills, Briarwood, Forest
Hills): In this race, Barry Grodenchik has a better grasp of city
issues than James Gennaro, a worthy opponent with strong environmental
credentials, or David Reich, who has worked for two state senators.
Mr. Grodenchik has been a loyal lieutenant to the Queens borough
president, Claire Shulman, an attachment that might give pause
in a period when voters are searching for independent representation.
We endorse Barry Grodenchik in the hope that he will use his skills
to serve the district and city rather than the borough's Democratic
The three-way race in the 24th Council District, which includes
Kew Gardens Hills, Fresh Meadows, Jamaica Estates and Utopia,
is distinctive not only because it is an area that has seen little
in the way of hotly contested primary battles for City Council
seats, but also because of the depth of government experience
of its candidates. It is also expected to show the extent to which
the support of the Democratic organization in the borough has
potency. One candidate, Barry Grodenchik, has served as a senior
aide to Queens Borough President Claire Shulman for the last nine
years, after having worked for Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn
and former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo. Another, James F. Gennaro, worked
in the budget office in the administration of Mayor Edward I.
Koch and has been an environmental policy adviser to the City
Council for 11 years. The third candidate, David Reich, is chief
of staff and counsel for State Senator Seymour P. Lachman and
worked previously for State Senator Emanuel R. Gold. Mr. Grodenchik,
41, has been endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party organization
and a host of elected officials in the borough, including Ms.
Shulman and Mr. Povman. Mr. Gennaro, 44, has been endorsed by
Mr. Koch and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmental lawyer,
and has put together a formidable campaign organization. Mr. Reich,
36, is proud that he has received no labor or political endorsements,
and said his work in government and with community groups had
earned him a significant grass- roots following. (NY
Jeff Gottlieb, Councilman Morton Povman's chief of staff, withdrew
from the race for his boss' council seat on Monday. Gottlieb,
who was expecting to win the Democratic nomination, arrived at
his party's leadership caucus to find that the political tide
had changed and his party was supporting Barry Grodenchik, the
chief administrative officer to Queens Borough President Claire
Jeff Gottlieb cited party unity as his reason for dropping out
of the race for city council in district 24. Barry Grodenchik,
a top aide to Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, is now
the leading candidate, but he faces considerable opposition in
Jim Gennaro, Morshed Alam, and David Reich. (Newsday)
The Queens Democratic Organization, headed by county leader Thomas
Manton, officially endorsed Barry Grodenchik in his race for city
council in the 24th district. Jeff Gottlieb may have assured himself
a future job by stepping aside to let Grodenchik take the nomination.
The Conflict of Interest Board statute, which bans certain city
officials from fundraising, is forcing candidates to evaluate
their current jobs and campaigns. The rule states that candidates,
and their campaign committees, cannot raise funds if the candidate
currently holds a position with substantial policy discretion.
Barry Grodenchik and Jim Gennaro, both seeking the city council
seat in the 24th district, do not hold policy-making positions
and can continue to hold office and raise money. (Newsday)
While term limits may be ousting experienced legislators from
city council, many candidates looking to fill those seats have
significant political experience. The three big money raisers
in the race for district 24 are quite familiar with politics in
their borough. (Daily
Twenty-two New York City Councilmembers will introduce a bill
to repeal the law on term limits, which is forcing the retirement
of 36 Councilmembers this year. Jim Gennaro, a candidate for the
District 24 seat, twice voted against term limits. (Newsday)
With term limits barring many incumbents from returning to their
city council seats, election season begins early this year. Competitive
fundraising is the name of the game with the city matching contributions
at a ratio of 4:1. (Queens
Gennaro names son, Rich, campaign manager. (Western
The 24th City Council district in central Queens proves to be
fertile ground for candidates hoping to plant themselves in Councilmember
Morton Povman's seat. Jeff Gottlieb, Barry Grodenchik, Jim Gennaro,
and David Reich are all Democratic hopefuls throwing their hats
into the ring early this season. (Western
Year 2000 Archives
City Council funds allotted to Councilman Morton Povman are being
used to further the campaign of his chief of staff, Jeff Gottlieb.
Gottlieb's image appeared on Mr. Povman's letterhead in notes
sent out in City Council envelopes promoting Mr. Gottlieb. (Southeast