District 32 Southeast Queens

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What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a guide to the political races in what many are calling New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history.

What is so significant about it?
For the first time in memory, most political offices in the city will be wide open to people who have neither money nor connections.

Why will the races be so open?
There are two reasons. This year, a new law goes into effect that limits the terms of New York City elected officials, forcing the mass retirement of most incumbents in the city - including the mayor, the comptroller, the public advocate, four of the five borough presidents, and 36 of the 51 members of the City Council. At the same time, a new campaign finance law kicks in, which allows any candidate who agrees to certain restrictions to collect four dollars of matching funds for every dollar they raise.

What does this have to do with this site?
As a public service, Searchlight on Campaign 2001 has a separate page for each race, including all the races for City Council, that not only sorts out the candidates -- many of them new and unfamiliar -- but also offers an opportunity to learn about the issues, and the districts themselves.

Who is behind Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a project of Gotham Gazette, a non-profit, non-partisan, non-ideological (but non-boring) web site about New York City news, policy and politics published by Citizens Union Foundation, part of the oldest and largest good-government group in the city (founded in 1897).

What's wrong with the way the regular press covers the races?
That is for you to decide. And one of our regular features, Campaign Trail, helps you to decide. Campaign Trail provides succinct summaries and links to campaign articles in the commercial press.

Who are we?


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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002

General Election Results

x-Joseph P. Addabbo, Dem 14,462 - 55 percent
Joann Ariola, Rep 11,250 - 42 percent
John J. Baxter, Ind 400 - 2 percent
Robert Curran, Gre 397 - 1 percent

Primary Election Results

Joseph P. Addabbo 4,899
Lew M. Simon 2,545
John Seminerio 2,400
Christina Jorge 1,383
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Al Stabile (can't run in 2001)

The Candidates:

General Election Update

Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign Finance Board:

Contributors to Joe Addabbo, Jr.
Contributors to Joann Ariola
John J. Baxter has not filed.
Contributors to Robert Curran
Contributors to Christina Jorge
Contributors to John Seminerio
Contributors to Lew M. Simon

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 32

Issue Statements:
District 32 candidates' statements on the issues, at Savvyvoter.org

Campaign Tangle:
Martina Duran and firefighter Joe Palmer Doyle were knocked off the Democratic ballot. "I think Palmer found out that running into a burning building is easier than running into the Board of Elections," said Congressman Anthony Weiner, who had encouraged the firefighter to run. Joe Addabbo, Jr. was also removed from the Liberal line. See the Campaign Update for more details.. Posted 8/16/01

Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

The Bridge (Bus, Train And Metrocard) To The 21st Century

There are other issues facing district 32 besides transportation, as all three candidates will tell you, their answers connecting in some way to their particular areas of interest and experience. Joe Addabbo, Jr. a real estate attorney, notes that young families are moving out of the area. Chris Jorge, the director of Rockaway Artists Alliance, says there need to be more programs for the youth. And Palmer Doyle, who thanks to a recent change in election rules has become the first firefighter to run for city office in 100 years, says single-room occupancy hotels with absentee landlords are "a firefighter's recipe for disaster."

But they all agree on one thing. They say improved transportation is a key to bringing their district together. They mean this literally. District 32 is divided by the Jamaica Bay.

Area Profile
For a detailed profile of this district from City Project, click here.


  • White, non-Hispanic: 66%
  • Black, non Hispanic: 7%
  • Asian: 8%
  • Hispanic 20%

Median income: $49,724
Ranks 19th out of 51

Unemployment rate: 7%

For more information on this district -- its schools, its crime statistics and more -- click here.

According to all the candidates, frequent construction on the Marine Parkway Bridge regularly bottlenecks traffic. The A train from Manhattan to the end of the line is one of the longest subway rides in the city. The Green Bus Lines, which runs (irregularly, they say) to the south end of the Rockaway peninsula, is not part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and so does not allow for Metrocard transfers. And residents have been lobbying to revive the old Rockaway-Long Island railway and ferry service to Manhattan for years.

"A lot of people wonder why I work with the Port Authority for Community Board 10," said Addabbo, who is the son of a deceased Queens congressman. "It is so I can learn how to work on transportation issues." There are also issues presented by nearby JFK airport--noisy flight patterns, airport expansion, and road construction on the Van Wyck expressway. And when improvements are made, the candidates say, they do not go far enough.

"The Air Train from JFK to Howard Beach is great, but it stops there and does not help the areas further out," said Jorge.

District 32 has one of the largest geographic area of any city council district, and so it is not surprising that the area has a wide range of constituents and needs. It encompasses neighborhoods like Ozone Park with its large Indian community, Howard Beach, a predominantly Italian and Jewish neighborhood, Broad Channel, one of the only neighborhoods that can boast about a wildlife refuge as a main attraction, and the southern portion of Rockaway peninsula with beautiful, but often neglected beaches.

The diverse neighborhoods may be a factor in the area's history of racial violence, particularly involving youth. In 1986 in Howard Beach, a group of white youths attacked three black men, which resulted in a high profile, racially motivated murder case that many in the area would like to put behind them. But there have been more recent racial attacks that suggest racial tensions still exist; teenagers said they were specifically looking to beat up members of the Indian community in Ozone Park. That is why the candidates want to give the youth of district 32 particular attention.

"In the Rockaway . . . , there are no movie theaters, no bowling alleys, and few after-school programs," said Jorge. Doyle said that if he were elected he would hire a staff person to focus just on youth issues. The Rockaways also have a history of difficulties resulting from the placement of mentally ill and homeless people in single room occupancy hotels. When Doyle bought his house six years ago, he says there were fifteen illegally zoned SROs in a ten-block area. As a firefighter, he saw the problem primarily as a safety issue and has worked with the Queens Borough President's task force to address the problem. Jorge, who has a background in mental health issues, says she was inspired to run for public office because of "frustrations in dealing with city services," particularly for the mentally ill.

The candidates also note the district's education concerns. Former Chancellor Rudy Crew ousted the area's superintendent, and when new schools are built they become quickly overcrowded. Addabbo said he often asks people that are moving out of the area why they are leaving, and he always hears the same response. "Ten years ago it was safety. Today 99 percent of the time it is because of education.

"If there is a proposal to get rid of the Board of Education, I would have to look at it closely."

Addabbo, who feels his background and experience make him the best candidate, says he has warned voters to "watch out for those brand new faces." The other two candidates hope their lack of political experience can work to their advantage.

"I think a lot of people are tired of career politicians and think maybe it is time to give the regular guy a shot," said Doyle. "Well no one is more regular than me. Maybe the voters will go to the polls and say 'hey, here's the fireman' and pull that lever."

Posted 03/06/01

Campaign Update:

Joe Palmer Doyle, the fire fighter running in district 32, was knocked off the ballot after Lew Simon, the area1s Democratic district leader, challenged his signatures. "I raised $6,000 and I knocked on a lot of doors," said Doyle. "But I just didn1t have the horses I needed." Doyle said he would now endorse Joe Addabbo, Jr. Martina Duran was also knocked off the Democratic ballot and Addabbo, Jr. was removed from the Liberal party line.

There are now four Democrats, one Republican, and one Independence candidate left in the race.

Democratic candidate John Seminerio is campaigning on issues like education, transportation, and constituent services. "People in the Rockaways tend to feel they are not a part of Queens and they are not a part of Brooklyn. They feel like they are out there where they are ignored," said Seminerio. "When (Councilmember) Al Stabile opened an office in the Rockaways and then closed it down, the people felt particularly abandoned."

Lew Simon is also campaigning on local issues. "We1re talking about fixing the boardwalk, getting rid of the toll on the bridge, getting the Long Island Rail Road stop reopened, and subsidizing ferries," said Simon.

Joann Ariola is hoping she can keep district 32 as one of the only six Republican districts in City Council and is emphasizing her experience as a staff member at City Council. "I recently worked on getting $300,000 into the city budget to subsidize the Gateway ferry," said Ariola. "It costs $13, so if we can get it subsidized it would be more affordable. We1re now waiting for the state and federal government to do their part."

The field of candidates is appearing at frequent debates trying to attract voters attention in one of the few races in which the Queens Democratic Party has not endorsed a candidate.

Lew Simon is counting on his experience as Democratic District leader and his Good Government Regular Club, which boasts 3,000 members. Joe Addabbo, Jr., son of a former Congressman, is leading the other candidates in fundraising. John Seminerio is holding house meetings with small groups of voters. "Promise us ten people, and we1ll come to your house and bring the coffee," said Seminerio. "You promise 20, and we1ll bring cake." Chris Jorge successfully defended her petition challenges in court and said, "I not only survived, I emerged as [Lew Simon1s] greatest threat to victory."

Joanne Ariola is content to watch the four way Democratic primary and focus on the general election in November. "I have a wonderful chance," said Ariola. "Even though Democrats outnumber Republicans three-to-one, we have an extremely conservative district."

Robert Curran, who is running as a Green candidate, hopes he can appeal to people who are tired of politics . "I'm a Democrat, but I think people are tired of the Democratic party system," said Curran. "I'm running because I don1t think the other candidates represent the people I know. Lawyers, son's of politicians, and government staffers do not have the same concerns as working people."

Curran, who is the only Green candidate to be endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters, said does not think of himself as a fringe candidate. "I'm running to win," said Curran.

Posted 08/16/01

Candidate Biographies

Joe Addabbo Jr. is an attorney that specializes in residential and commercial real estate. He has served as a Democratic committeeman for the 23rd Assembly District, a board member of the South Queens Democratic Club, president of the Ozone Tudor Civic Association, and chairman of the Port Authority Sub-Committee of Community Board 10. He graduated from St. Johns University, and has a law degree from the Touro College School of Law. He ran for City Council in 1997.

Joann Ariola is currently a member of the New York City Council central staff. In the past she worked for Councilmember Al Stabile, Councilmember Noach Dear, and as Director of Community Services for district 32. She has served as Female Republican State Committeewoman in the 23rd Assembly District and as a party official for the Republican party in Queens. She ran for State Assembly in 1996. She is a member of St. Helen1s Parish.

John Baxter (no information available.)

Robert Curran is an Emergency Medical Technician. He also serves as an adjunct faculty with CUNY-Brooklyn College and as president of Rockaway Park Business Development Association. He graduated the University of Pittsburgh. He co-founded a family street fair on Beach 116 Street.

Martina Duran (no information available).

Palmer Doyle is a firefighter with Engine 254 and Ladder 153 in Brooklyn. He has served as President of the 100th Community Council, as a member of Community Board 14, and as a participant on the Queens Borough President's Illegal SRO Task Force.

Chris Jorge is a program director for Rockaway Artists Alliance. She has worked in the past as a registered nurse at the Maimonides Community Mental Health Center. She serves as a the co-chair of the Project to Reach Rockaway Youth in Safety and Education, on the advisory council of the St. John1s Home for Boys, as a member of the Committee on Reform of Education, as a board member of the Neponsit Property Owners Association, and the Queens Council of the Arts. She is a graduate of Kings County Nursing School, has a BS in nursing from Long Island University, and a masters degree in educational psychology from New York University.

John Seminerio has served as president of the Woodhaven Block Association and as Democratic district leader for the 38th Assembly District. He was one of the founding members of the Friends of Forest Park and a mentor for Covenant House1s program for trouble youth. He worked to restore Engine Firehouse 294, the Remsen Family Cemetery Plot and the James Brown House, one of the few remaining colonial structures in the city. He graduated from the School of Visual Arts and has a law degree from Yeshiva University/Cardoza School of Law.

Lew Simon has been the Democratic district leader in Far Rockaway for the past seven years. He founded the Good Government Regular Democratic Club and has been involved in politics for 25 years since he first ran for the position of delegate to the countywide judicial convention at age 18. He has also served as Chairman of the Rockaway/Broad Channel Bridge Toll Committee. As a teenager, he worked in the Yeshiva of Belle Harbor where he is still active in community activities.

Campaign Trail

In Ozone Park's 32nd District, all the candidates are for better transportation, more cops and better schools. With the area split by Jamaica Bay, each candidate is fighting to secure his or her base. (Daily News)

The firefighter running for City Council in Far Rockaway was knocked off the ballot because he did not have the 900 signatures needed to qualify. ""An ordinary Joe doesn't have a chance," said candidate Palmer Doyle. (Newsday)

The entrance of Democratic leader Lew Simon at the last moment has added more drama and interest to a City Council race that already includes a number of local residents. Simon joins local residents Chris Jorge, Palmer Doyle, Robert Curran and John Macron in the race. Simon, Jorge, Doyle and Curran are all vying for the Democratic nod in the coming primary election. Macron is a Republican. Also vying for the seat are such non-Rockaway residents as Joe Addabbo, Jr. and John Seminario, Joann Ariola and Alex Lutz. Addabbo and Seminario are Democrats, Ariola and Lutz, Republicans. (The Wave)

What with Joseph Addabbo, Jr. and Geraldine Chapey and Lew Simon heading a raft of viable candidates, the Queens Democratic Organization punted on this one. Instead of deciding to designate one of these powerful people, they decided not to decide. As of now, the 32nd Council District will have no one designated by the Queens Democratic Organization. (Queens Courier)

Rockaway Democratic District Leader Lew Simon has been a maverick for most of his political life. Now he is running for City Council against the son of a former Congressman and the man mostly likely to get the support of the Democratic County Organization, Joseph Addabbo, Jr. If Addabbo is to be beaten, it will be Simon who will be the most likely to win. Simon is running in a four person race against Addabbo, fireman Palmer Doyle, and activist Chris Jorge. But Simon alone has a massive political organization, the Rockaway-based Good Government Democratic Club (which claims more than 3,000 members) as the base of his support for the Council. "I never had a problem getting signatures," Simon told me. "The Rockaway Wave called me The Petition King. (Queens Courier)

Palmer Doyle, who announced yesterday that he would run for City Council in district 32 in Queens, became the first NYC firefighter in 100 years to be a legal candidate for office. A 1998 law allows members of the Fire Department of New York to keep their jobs while serving in public office. Previously, firefighters had to resign within 10 days of being designated a party candidate. (Daily News)

Joann Ariola resigned as Councilman Al Stabile1s chief of staff. Though leaving Stabile with whom she has worked for six years, Ariola said she has no intentions of leaving politics. She currently holds the position of Republican District Leader and told The Wave that she in very much interested in running for Stabile1s City Council seat when term limits force him out in two years. She said she will remain an active supporter of the community. (The Wave)



Districts of the Week

District 1 -- Lower Manhattan
Whoever wins the election in district 1 will represent immigrant Chinese garment workers, as well as Wall Street traders living in Battery Park City. There are several candidates hoping to be the council's firsts -- the first Asian-American man, the first Asian-American woman, the first gay Rhodes Scholar, the first dot-com guru -- running against some politically well connected opponents. Endorsements and fundraising will play a big role in this race. But voter turnout could be the main determinant of who will next represent district 1 on the council. The key question is how many voters from each community will come out on Election Day.

District 7 -- Washington Heights, Manhattan
The northern tip of Manhattan has become one of the most popular places for new immigrants to call home. The northern tip of Manhattan is a place that today's new immigrants call home. The majority have come from the Dominican Republic, but also from countries in South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. But it is not just new immigrants that are moving in. Students, artists, and other Manhattanites looking for less expensive rents and larger apartments have also moved north. Ten Democratic candidates are competing for the 15,000 voters expected on primary day. The winner who emerges from a crowded field of candidates will have to balance the needs of the newcomers with those who have lived there for years.

District 16 -- Highbridge, Bronx
The neighborhoods of district 16 are the city's poorest, with the highest rate of unemployment and the lowest median household income. But those who live there also point out that much is positive and stable about the area, thanks in large part to local organizations, not-for-profit agencies, and houses of worship that help hold the neighborhoods together. Each candidate for City Council believes that through his or her connections to churches and local organizations, they can help empower the community toward a better life. Helen Foster, the current council member daughter, will face Michael Benjamin, who has worked as an aide to several government officials and Anthony Curry, a Bronx neighborhood activist.

District 20 -- Northeast Flushing, Queens
This year district 20 may elect the first Asian-American ever to the City Council to an area which now has the second highest number of immigrants from Korea and Taiwan in the city. There are three Asian candidates in the Democratic race who have each drawn big endorsements. Council Speaker Peter Vallone endorsed Terence Park, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi endorsed John Liu, and the New York Times recently endorsed Ethel Chen The campaign has also drawn national and international press coverage

District 25 -- Jackson Heights, Queens
Thirty-seventh Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens is one of the most diverse streets in the world. Little India quickly blends into Little Colombia, with vendors selling Latin American food to Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Mexicans, and Uruguayans. And each summer, the Queens Pride Parade fills the same street with rainbow banners. So it is no surprise that this election year the district produced a diverse field of candidates. A number of them, however, found out that getting on the ballot is not an easy task, especially when the Queens Democratic organization sends teams of lawyers to challenge petitions. But five Democratic candidates survived and will face off on September 11.

District 31 -- South East Queens
When a heavy rain hits southeast Queens, many residents in neighborhoods like Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale head to the basement with a bucket in hand. And it has been that way for the last 50 years. In the rush to build housing in the area after World War II, developers overlooked the need for storm drains in hopes that the city would eventually build a city-wide sewer system. The plan never materialized and the area has experienced "100-year rains" three times in the last decade. The eight Democrats -- all with little experience overseeing massive infrastructure projects--will try to convince voters that they can finally solve the flooding problems.

District 35 -- Central Brooklyn
The residents in council district 35 have some of the highest incomes in Brooklyn and some of the lowest. They can play in a famous park and a beautiful botanical garden, and live in the city's most crumbling public housing. They can attend one of the four institutions of higher learning in the district, and the worst-scoring high schools in the city. Such juxtapositions are a way of life for a district that includes the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; mid dle-class African-American communities near Prospect Park; immigrant communities from Haiti, Sierra Leon, Nigeria, and Trinidad, and in Crown Heights, a mix of Hasidic Jews and African-Americans. Seven Democratic candidates are campaigning in hopes that they can bring some kind of unity, and attention, to the area. Their backgrounds are as diverse as the neighborhoods themselves.

District 39 -- Park Slope/Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
The candidates in district 39 include a chief of staff for an Assemblywoman, the husband of a member of U.S. Congress, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, an attorney and president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, the district manager of Community Board 6, and a labor organizer. This is the race to watch this year. The group of high-profile Democrats have raised a lot of money, almost $1.4 million combined.

District 45 -- East Flatbush
In no place in the city are the effects of campaign finance reform and term limits being felt more than in East Flatbush. The seven Democratic candidates seeking to represent this largely West Indian district come from a number of Caribbean nations. Many have been working on politicians' staffs and serving with community groups, clearly hoping someday to win their own elected office. Term limits has presented them with that opportunity, and they want to make the most of it. But this race that usually draws only about 8,000 voters could be decided by just a few votes. The candidates are attempting to come up with anything that will separate them from the pack.

District 49 -- North Shore, Staten Island
Staten Island has always been somewhat of a suburban stepchild to New York City. When a 1998 survey asked New Yorkers why they go to Staten Island, the top two responses were ''visiting friends and relatives" and ''passing through.'' But in many ways, the north shore has more in common with areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn than with the rest of the Staten Island. The top priority for all the candidates -- Jon Del Giorno, an administrative manager for the Board of Elections, Mike McMahon, an attorney and counsel to current Councilmember Jerome O'Donovan, and Debi Rose, an administrator at the College of Staten Island and the first African-American candidate in Staten Island politics -- is to make sure that the island becomes more than just a turn-around-point for the over one million tourists who ride the free ferry from Manhattan each year.

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Board of Elections
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Links You Can Use

Government sites
NYC Campaign Finance Bd.
NYC Board of Elections
NYC Voter Assistance Comm.
NY City Council
Federal Election Comm.

Local non-partisan sites
NY League of Women Voters
Common Cause New York

National non-partisan sites
Ctr. for Responsive Politics
Common Cause
League of Women Voters

NAACP Voter Empowerment
Vote Smart


Political consultants
Amer. Assc. of Pol. Consultants

Prime New York

Gotham Gazette
The Empire Page
Campaigns and Elections
Legislative Gazette

Political columnists
Andrea Bernstein
Joe Conason
Mario Cuomo (radio)
Rudy Giuliani (radio)
Clyde Haberman
Nat Hentoff

Joseph Mercurio
Joyce Purnick
John Tierney
Michael Tomasky

Political parties
Right to Life
Working Families
Marijuana Reform
Natural Law Party
Taxpayers Party

Political clubs and groups
Blueprint Camp. Finance Reform
Central Queens Greens
The Jefferson Democratic Club of Flushing
NY Young Republican Club
Stonewall Democratic Club
Village Independent Dems.

Abbreviations for Party Affiliation

American Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Communist (Com)
Conservative (Con)
Constitution (CST)
Democratic (Dem)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Green (Gre)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Independence (Ind)
Liberal (Lib)
Libertarian (LBT)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Republican (Rep)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)

2001 Election Calendar

June 1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
June 5 - First day for candidates from the eight major parties (Democratic, Republican, Indpendence, Conservative, Liberal, Green, Working Families, and Right to Life) to circulate petitions. Candidates running for City Council must collect the signatures of at least 900 people living in the district for which they are running in order to appear on the Primary ballot. Candidates not running under these eight major parties do not appear on the Primary ballot and have a separate set of deadlines.
July 12 - Deadline for major party candidates to file petitions.
July 10 - First day for unaffiliated candidates to circulate petitions, in order to appear on the ballot in the General Election. They must collect the number of signatures equal to five percent of the total enrolled in that party.
August 7 - Board of Elections announces candidates appearing on the Primary ballot.
August 17 - Last day for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the Primary Election.
August 21 - Deadline for non-major party candidates to file petitions to be included on the General Election ballot.
September 4 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the Primary
September 10 - Last day to personally deliver application for absentee voting in the Primary Last day to postmark absentee ballot for Primary
September 11 - Primary election; Polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m.; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.
September 25 - Runoff Primary election for Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate, if needed
October 12 - Last day to for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the General Election
October 30 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the General Election
November 5 - Last day to hand-deliver an application for absentee voting, or to postmark an absentee ballot for the General Election.
November 6 - General Election; polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m. in NYC; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.

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