Former Councilwoman Melinda Katz raised more money in the past two months for her Queens borough president bid than her opponents who filed their latest campaign finance reports as of The Forum’s press deadline, though she still lags behind Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) in total contributions.
Katz, a Democrat from Forest Hills, reported raising $80,301 in the last campaign finance filing period, which ran from March 12 through May 11 – placing her ahead of Director of Community Boards and Parks Liaison for Queens Borough Hall President Barry Grodenchik’s $46,366 or the $16,323 landed by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside). Candidates had until the end of the day on Wednesday to file their reports, which Vallone, Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) had yet to do by the time this newspaper went to press. Katz, too, had not filed her official report, though her campaign released the numbers they submitted to the city Campaign Finance Board.
The candidates -a roster of all Democrats – are running to replace current Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who cannot make another bid for her seat due to term limits.
While the former legislator from Forest Hills is out-earning some of her challengers, she remains in second place when it comes to total contributions. Vallone had received $1,073,037 in contributions as of the last filing period, whereas Katz has now raised a total of $489,213. Peralta had received $244,136 as of the last filing period, and Grodenchik’s total contributions are now at $151,304. Avella had the least amount, coming in at $57,211.
Vallone has also secured more contributors than his opponents, with 1,702 contributors giving to his campaign as of last filing period – though more than half of his contributions are coming from individuals or groups based outside of New York City, according to Campaign Finance Board records.
The latest filings show Grodenchik with 649 contributors and Avella with 377. Grodenchik has garnered an average contribution size of $233, while Avella’s average contribution size is $152, according to the CFB.
Grodenchik, who previously served in the Assembly representing parts of northern Queens, received a number of his largest contributions in this filing period from the real estate industry – which has thrown its support behind a number of borough president candidates in Queens – and throughout the city. Borough presidents review their respective borough’s land-use projects that are subject to the city’s Land Use Review Procedure.
Johnson Chen, a real estate developer and the CEO of Kang Long Group Corporation, based in Brookville, NY, donated $1,000 to Grodenchik’s campaign. Chen’s group includes dealings in the restaurant industry, real estate development and wealth management and investment consulting services. Alex Chiu, a developer at the F&T Group, a real estate development company that works in Queens and Asia, and Helen Lee of Onex Real Estate Partners both gave Grodenchik $1,000.
The largest single contribution Grodenchik received was from the Local Union No. 3 in Fresh Meadows, which represents electricians. The group gave $3,850.
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder also threw his financial support behind Grodenchik and handed the candidate a $175 donation.
Of the $151,304 Grodenchik has received in total contributions, $110,253 are from city residents and $41,051 come from outside the city.
The largest contribution given during this reporting period to Avella, a longtime civic activist who previously served in the City Council and has run for mayor, was from Flushing resident Carla Fodera, of Fodera Foods Management. She donated $2,500.
Joseph Lume, a carpenter from Middle Village, gave $500, as did Giovanni Mangogna, who owns the Middle Village Cafe.
Most of Avella’s contributions came from city residents, with $48,471 of his $57,211 being donated by those from the five boroughs.
While major donors to Katz’s campaign have not been listed for the most recent filing period, she, like many of the borough president candidates, received significant backing from the real estate industry. Hugo Ruiz of the Roxann real estate group gave $3,500, and Zachary Kerr, an executive at the Brooklyn-based M&R Management, a real estate company, donated $3,850.
Bernard Schwartz, a World War II veteran who was the largest single contributor to the Democratic party in the early 1990s, gave Katz $3,850. Schwartz is now the CEO of the Manhattan-based BLS Investments. Several attorneys also donated $3,850, as did Andrea Catsimatidis – who is married to former U.S. President Richard Nixon’s grandson and is the daughter of Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis.
Vallone, meanwhile, received a donation of $850 from John Catsimatidis during the last filing cycle. Real estate groups have thrown significant weight behind Vallone, and the councilman reported he had received $1,000 each from individuals representing Strathnore Group LLC and the Shalimar Management Corporation.
The Astoria councilman also received support – in the form of $320 – from Jeffrey Wilpon, the chief operating officer of the Mets and the son of the Mets majority owner Fred Wilpon.
Peralta, who raised about $112,000 in the previous cycle, had received the financial backing of a long list of unions, including the Local 100 Transport Workers, Local 14-14B Operating Engine, Local 32B-32J SEIU AFL-CIO, and Local 46 PAC Metallic Leathers.
One of his largest contributions stemmed from Astoria resident Gina Argento, the CEO of Broadway Stages, one of the city’s largest film and television production facilities, who handed him $3,000. Nissren Gadelrab, a Jackson Heights pharmacist, also donated $3,000 to Peralta.
During the last filing period, Comrie’s largest single gift came from Matthew Huggins, a retiree from Jamaica who gave the councilman $1,520. An insurance broker from Far Rockaway gave $500, as did South Richmond Hill resident Jarnail Singh, the owner of JS Metro Construction Inc. Community Board 12 District Manager Yvonne Reddick donated $450 to Comrie.
By Anna Gustafson