Big Apple Politics

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Orthodox Candidate Loses Queens Council Seat by Tiny Margin

Pesach Osina, the Orthodox Jewish candidate for the Far Rockaway and Queens City Council seat, lost to Donovan Richards by just 79 votes, nearly double the number required for an automatic manual recount, according to a final count of absentee ballots that concluded yesterday.

“Canvassing went very smoothly without legal issues,” Jerry Goldfeder, an elections lawyer who represented Osina, conceded as Richards’s total vote count was unofficially put at 2,646 to Osina’s 2,567. “The voters have spoken.”

Richards and Osina were the two top contestants in the Feb. 19 elections that pitted seven black candidates and one Jew in the district about 85 percent African-American. The two were just 26 votes apart before absentee ballots were counted yesterday.

Richards was the heavy favorite to succeed his mentor Councilman James Sanders Jr. in the Queens special election fight against Osina, an aide to fellow Orthodox Jew, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder.

Both declared victory after the election, in which the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy played a domineering role. The election emerged after Sanders defeated scandal-tarred state Sen. Shirley Huntley, a Queens Democrat who pleaded guilty to charges of felony embezzlement of state funds.

The race took on a racial tinge in its final days when Bishop Charles Norris, founder of a popular Jamaica church and a local powerbroker, tried to get the eight black candidates to coalesce behind one of them to prevent the “young Jewish boy in the Rockaways” from winning.

“We have a lot of work to do in the district,” Richards said yesterday. “We have to also make sure we reconcile the communities. I think that it’s important that all communities are working together. You know, Pesach ran a great campaign, I have no ill will towards him and I look forward to working with every community.”

Poll Sours on Bloomberg II, Shows Ultra-Liberal NYC

NEW YORK – New Yorkers are not keen on electing another business executive for mayor, have no problem with raising taxes and, for the first time in two decades, overwhelmingly want a Democrat to lead them, according to the results of a Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday.

Only 10 percent of voters say they would be “enthusiastic” to see business executive experience in their next mayor, with a mere 47 percent “comfortable” electing someone from the private sector.

Bloomberg allies dismissed the poll results as “meaningless,” but the attitude could pose a challenge to the Republican candidates in the race who hail from
the business world. Former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota, who spent years as an investment banker, still leads the GOP pack, but trails badly against any of the four Democrats.

The biggest shock of the poll is that 55 percent of voters said they do not know enough about Thompson, who came within several points of defeating Bloomberg in 2009, to form an opinion about him.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn led Democrats with support from 37 percent, three points shy of the support needed to avoid a primary runoff. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was the only candidate to climb in the polls since January, up three points to 14 percent. City Comptroller John Liu and Bill Thompson stayed at their January positions, 9 percent and 11 percent respectively.

Asked whether they would support a candidate who advocates raising taxes on the wealthy, as de Blasio and Liu plan on doing, 55 percent said they would, 17 percent said they would not, with 26 percent said it made no difference. Quinn and Thompson oppose any income-tax increase.

Bloomberg Unfazed at Soda Ban Side Effects

NEW YORK – Mayor Michael Bloomberg strongly defended his 16-ounce limit on sugary beverages yesterday, tweaking a New York Post reporter over a weekend article that chronicled some of the unexpected side effects of the city’s upcoming ban.

“When it comes to the pizza parlor, they cannot deliver more than 16 ounces in any one container,” Bloomberg said at a press conference. “So if you want 32 ounces, they’ll deliver two. If you want 64 ounces, I’ll see whether your mathematical skills as a liberal arts major [are] adequate to be able to do that when I read your article.”

The new regulation, set to take effect in two weeks, would also ban 2-liter soda bottles with pizza deliveries.

“This other stuff is just made up because somebody on Sunday wants to write a column and they can’t find any news that day,” Bloomberg scoffed.

All Five GOP Mayoral Candidates Claim Jewish ‘Background’

NEW YORK – This was to have been the first election in nearly half a century with none of the candidates for mayor of New York City to claim Jewish ancestry. But all five of the Republicans running are now claiming some affinity with Judaism.

Tom Allon, a Democrat who became an independent to run on the Independent line who is now running on the Republican line, is Jewish, but carries little name recognition. A surprise came when Joe Lhota, a former Giuliani aide and the GOP frontrunner, said in a New York Post interview last month that his mother is Jewish, making him halachically a Jew.

Even John Catsimatidis, a Greek supermarket mogul, said last week in an interview that he is “part Jewish. I mean, call my rabbi!”

Adolfo Carrión, the Bronx borough president running for the Republican nomination and on the Independence line, piped in last week that he should be considered an honorary Jew just for being born in New York City.

“I’m a Puerto Rican kid from New York City who’s practically half Jewish by virtue of birth and my association here in this city,” Carrión said.

George McDonald, an investment banker, said this week that his wife is Jewish, “and her mother, Francis Karr, was an American stenographer at the Nuremberg trials. So we have for many years been acquainted with the human history of the Jewish faith.”