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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002
x-Dennis P. Gallagher, Rep 13,208 - 59 percent
Elizabeth S. Crowley, Dem 8,807 - 40 percent
Sharain Pereira, Gre 208 - 1 percent
Elizabeth S. Crowley 3,362
Linda Sansivieri 2,367
Robert Cermeli 1,589
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)
Incumbent: Thomas V. Ognibene (can't
run in 2001)
- Elizabeth Crowley (Dem/Wor)
- Dennis Gallagher (Rep/Con/RTL)
- Sharain Pereira (Gre)
General Election Update
Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign
to Bob Cermeli
to Elizabeth Crowley
to Dennis Gallagher
Sharain Pereira has not filed.
to Linda Sansivieri
Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District
Too Much Green, And Not Enough
On a map of Queens, there is a high concentration of green in
the southwestern portion of the borough. District 30 is home to
beloved playgrounds and parks. Weekend duffers can tee off at
the Forest Park golf course, and flower lovers can enjoy some
of the two thousand rose bushes planted in Juniper Valley Park,
miraculously created long ago out of swampland. But many of these
green pastures are covered with tombstones. There are at least
ten cemeteries, taking up about a quarter of the land in the district.
In a district where so many New Yorkers are resting in peace,
this year's race for the City Council seat has been noisy enough
to wake the dead.
The communities of Ridgewood, Middle Village and Glendale very
well could be looking at three elections in the space of a little
over four months. The district's current council member and minority
leader, Republican Thomas Ognibene, will most likely be stepping
down from office to accept a judgeship. If Ognibene resigns by
June 11, a special election will be held about forty days after
he vacates the seat.
This special election would be nonpartisan, so the three Democrats
and the one Republican vying for the seat would all be running
directly against each other. A special election would determine
who holds the seat until the end of the year, and then a primary
and a general election would take place in September and November.
While a competitive campaign season unfolds, residents try to
cope with a lack of services. With so much green park space throughout
the district, a problem that has faced its citizens is the inability
to come up with enough money from the city to take care of them.
"We've got over 229 acres of parkland in this district," says
Gary Giordano, district manager of community board 5, which overlaps
most of city council district 30. "But on a year-round basis,
we only have seven full-time park maintenance employees. Juniper
Valley Park is 55 acres alone, and Forest Park is even bigger."
The shortage of resources does not end at the parks' edges. One
of the biggest issues facing the community has been the lack of
police coverage on the street. Response time has averaged around
ten minutes, which is longer than the citywide average of 8.2
minutes, and has over the past few years averaged as high as fifteen
Many cite understaffing at the local police department as a serious
concern. Under the Safe City, Safe Streets initiative of the Dinkins
administration, the local precinct covering the majority of the
City Council district was slated to receive 255 new officers.
All these years later, there are only about 200, and in an area
of coverage encompassing 7.6 square miles, the difference can
be felt strongly. All four candidates agree that creating a police
satellite station or substation would do a great deal for the
Geography also plays a part in delays. "We've got a lot of cemeteries,
railroads, and parks in the neighborhood, and that makes it difficult
for police to get around," says Bob Cermeli. Because of all the
natural o bstacles, police officers are often restricted to one
or two major roads.
Even though crime as a whole is down in the district, quality
of life crimes occur on a regular basis, especially graffiti and
trash dumping. Vandals recently defaced the Middle Village Roller
Hockey rink in Juniper Valley Park, and a site slated for school
construction on Weirfeld Street is now heaped with piles of trash.
As in the rest of the city, shortages of housing and overcrowding
at schools are also on the minds of voters in the community. "There
are a lot of illegal apartments in basements and attics around
here," says Joan DeCamp, a committee chairperson on community
board 9. "In some cases, the people don't mind living there, but
it's definitely dangerous and can put a strain on city services."
School boards 24 and 27, meanwhile, are some of the most overcrowded
and underperforming school districts in the city.
Ognibene's decision to vacate his seat is not the only surprise
thrown into this year's election mix. Thomas Manton and the Queens
Democratic organization recently endorsed 23-year old Elizabeth
Crowley. Crowley, a decorator who helps restore old buildings
a and substitute teacher. Crowley had initially chosen to run
in the 26th District, but decided to move her campaign to the
30th District so that Manton could endorse another candidate in
the 26th District and still endorse Crowley. Once Crowley received
the nomination, two other local community activists, Joan DeCamp
and Erik DePaula, both of whom were banking on the support of
the Democratic organization and the unions, dropped out of the
The Crowley name is one familiar to Queens voters. Elizabeth's
cousin, Joseph Crowley, is currently in Congress representing
Queens constituents. Her parents have both been City Council members,
and two of her sisters serve on local school boards and community
Still, Crowley likes to say "I'm not the typical politician,"
by which she seems to mean that at 23, she is younger than the
typical politician. "The City Council needs to have people of
all ages. Fresh blood and new ideas are very important," she has
said. "I may not be as old as some of the other people on the
Council, but I have a lot of people I can turn to for help."
Though she talks of new ideas, she was not available to say what
those ideas are. Her campaign manager, Peter Krokondelas, said
that her jobs at various old houses or schools make it difficult
to get in touch with her. Speaking on her behalf, he said that
she would support the renovation of current schools and construction
of new schools. She would also call for a satellite station for
the 104th precinct to reduce police response time, and, he said,
she pledges to senior citizens that the first staff member she
hires would be a coordinator of senior issues.
In a district that has voted for Republicans Ognibene and Mayor
Rudy Giuliani for two terms, voters may be swayed less by party
affiliation than by the individual. Even though registered Democrats
outnumber registered Republicans by a two-to-one margin, Democratic
victories are not a sure thing in this district. "I've been very
fortunate to have Tom [Ognibene] as my mentor the past few years,"
says Dennis Gallagher, chief of staff to Ognibene and the only
Republican candidate, who cites as his most important issues the
same as Crowley -- education, crime, and seniors -- and adds "quality
of life," specifying vandalism. If the Republican issues in district
30 do not seem to differ much from the Democrats, Gallagher sees
a distinction in his party affiliation: "It is important that
we have the perspective of another party in our city government."
All three of the Democratic candidates are still on the ballot,
and Dennis Gallagher, the only Republican candidate, will face
the winner in the general election. "It's an advantage to know
that I will be secure on the November ballot," says Gallagher.
But how secure is he? While many thought Gallagher was a shoo-in
for the seat, recent allegations that Gallagher and his boss Councilmember
Thomas Ognibene accepted gifts in return for political favors
have raised questions about his campaign.
In June, the Village Voice published an
article about wiretapped conversations between Gallagher,
Ognibene, and Ron Lattanzio, a construction consultant who is
at the center of a District Attorney investigation of the buildings
Lattanzio allegedly offered Ognibene and Gallagher trips to Vermont
and Disney World, and they discussed how to get a friend of Lattanzio
hired in a prominent position in the city's buildings department.
Even though Lattanzio testified in court that he did provide
the gifts, the District Attorney's office was unable to indict
Gallagher or Ognibene, citing a lack of evidence that the trips
were ever taken or that there was a clear case of quid pro quo.
Asked to comment on the allegations, Gallagher says, "I don't
feel that there is anything to comment on. People who know me
and Tom in this community know what kind of people we are." Gallagher
continues to campaign full-time, going door-to-door. "I'm ready
to blast off, ready to go," says Gallagher.
How the allegations will affect Gallagher's campaign is yet to
be seen, but they have already hurt Ognibene's future political
aspirations. The Councilmember was up for a civil court judgeship,
and many thought he would be appointed by June. Now the appointment
is on hold.
So far, the Democratic candidates are not making the allegations
against Gallagher a major part of their campaigns.
"Unless they are charged with something, I can't prejudge people
personally," says Robert Cermeli. "From a practical matter, it's
going to cause suspicion. The public will see smoke and think
there's a fire."
"When I read that in the paper, I was upset because I have a
lot of respect for Ognibene," says Elizabeth Crowley. "I'll leave
it up to the District Attorney's office to complete their investigation."
Crowley has the endorsement of the Queen's Democratic organization
and her family connections. Twenty of her family members (with
the last name Crowley) have made donations to her campaign, according
to information from the Campaign Finance Board.
Robert Cermeli is head of the Community Board 5 health
and human services committee and served three terms as president
of School Board 24. Currently he works for the New York City Department
of Design and Construction as a capital budget administrator.
Elizabeth Crowley is the cousin of Congressman Joe Crowley
and the daughter of former Councilmembers Walter and Mary Crowley.
She works as a decorative painter and home restorer, as well as
doing some substitute teaching and being active as a member of
DC 9, the building trades council.
Dennis Gallagher is chief of staff to Councilmember Thomas
Ognibene. He is also active in a number of youth sports programs,
including the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council.
Linda Sansivieri has been a member of School Board 24
for twelve years and has been very active in the local Democratic
organizations in her district.
Council district 30 candidate Elizabeth Crowley finally gets her matching
funds. (Daily News)
Consultant Ron Lattanzio gave more testimony in court asserting
that he had provided Councilmember Tom Ognibene and his staff
with gifts, meals, and other presents in exchange for helping
his firm out with job placements and city investigations. (Daily
A former consultant at the center of an investigation into corruption
in the city Buildings Department testified yesterday that he had
given gifts to and arranged trips for Thomas Ognibene so that
the Republican City Councilmember would help an associate get
an influential position in the Buildings Department. Ognibene
denied the allegations. The councilman cannot run again because
of term limits and had been hoping for a state judgeship. He has
not been charged in the investigation, though eight other people
Until last week, Dennis Gallagher was a good pick to replace his
term-limited boss, City Councilman Thomas Ognibene. But the campaign
for the Middle Village seat has turned after revelations that
the Manhattan district attorney's office is investigating Ognibene's
and Gallagher's ties to a Buildings Department scandal. (Daily
News) And after a week of media silence, Councilman Ognibene
said yesterday that he did not accept free trips, money or gifts.
The best laid plans in City Council District 30 seem to have gone
awry. Incumbent Republican City Councilman Thomas Ognibene was
to have been named to a judgeship on the state Court of Claims
and leave office early, paving the way for a nonpartisan special
election this summer. The thinking was that, as the lone Republican,
Ognibene aide Dennis Gallagher would have an easy time against
a field of Democrats in the race, keeping the seat in GOP hands.
Now, however, both Ognibene and Gallagher have been implicated,
though not charged, in a criminal investigation alleging that
the councilman received favors from a building consultant in return
for exercising his political clout at the city Buildings Department
on the consultant's behalf. An unnamed official says Governor
Pataki is aware of the charges, originally reported in this week's
Village Voice, and has no immediate plans to name Ognibene to
the judgeship. Gallagher was not available for comment. (Newsday)
Wiretaps reportedly reveal that a consultant at the center of
a probe into corruption at the Buildings Department regularly
relied on Republican City Councilman Thomas Ognibene for political
clout. The charges, which come out of a probe that resulted in
indictments of four high level Buildings Department officials
in September, were first reported in the current Village
Times said today that law enforcement officials confirm the
Voice report. Detectives listening in in 1997 heard frequent conversations
involving consultant Ron Lattanzio, Ognibene and Ognibene's chief
of staff, Dennis Gallagher. Lattanzio reportedly arranged expense-paid
trips for Ognibene and Gallagher. The councilman cannot run again
because of term limits; Gallagher is a candidate for his seat.
Neither man has been charged.
Elizabeth Crowley celebrates her endorsement with her family (picture
Elizabeth Crowley, first cousin of U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley, has
entered the Democratic race for the District 30 City Council seat.
And she joins the fray with the support of her cousin and Queens
Democratic Party boss Tom Manton. The 23-year-old Elizabeth Crowley
had originally planned on running in District 26, but was reportedly
advised by Manton to switch. The party leader says he was eager
to have the well-known Crowley name on the ballot to improve party
chances in a possible special election. (Times
Reports are circulating that Councilman Tom Ognibene could be
approved for a Court of Claims judgeship and out of his council
seat by June 11, clearing the way for a special council election.
This has some Democratic worried. Special elections are nonpartisan
and so would pit all Democratic and Republican comers against
the entire field. Since four Democrats have declared for the seat,
they could fracture the Democratic vote and give the lone Republican
- Dennis Gallagher, Ognibene's chief of staff - a victory. Ognibene,
a Republican, can't run again because of term limits. (Times
03/08/01 Dennis Gallagher speaks at a Richmond Hill Block
Association meeting to discuss his candidacy. (Times
Erik DePaula announces his candidacy for the 30th District seat.
Michael Schenkler looks at the City Council races throughout Queens,
including District 30. (Queens
Dennis Gallagher, chief of staff to City Council Minority Leader
Thomas Ognibene for the past nine years, has announced he will
seek to succeed his boss as the Republican candidate in next year's
election for 30th District councilmember. (Western