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September 14, 2009: Vol. 1, No. 8
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Weprin seat battle may go on

TimesLedger Newspapers

Three candidates will compete for the Democratic nomination for City Councilman David Weprin’s (D-Hollis) seat this week, but depending on the outcome there may be a rematch between two of the candidates in November.

Bob Friedrich, Swaranjit Singh and state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck) will take their battle to the ballot boxes Tuesday in the Democratic primary election for Council District 23.

Friedrich, however, is also the only candidate running on the Republican line and, unlike Singh and Weprin, has indicated he will likely run against the victor of the primary should it not be him — a major point of contention in the at times fiery race.

Friedrich, the longtime co-op president at Glen Oaks Village, said the Council needs a fresh voice from someone who is not a career politician.

“I’m running because I’m passionate about the community in which I live and I firmly believe that if we elect civic leaders to the City Council, we can make real change that improves the lives of thousands of people.”

Friedrich, who frequently campaigns while riding a Segway, said he brings some outside-the-box ideas on city issues, including letting residents use electricity poles to power hybrid cars and using a motor home as his primary Council office.

Singh, who is a new face in Queens politics and would be the first Sikh American to be elected to the Council, said he believes the South Asian community has galvanized behind his campaign.

“My biggest goal is to unite the roti-eating people. Only when we are united, that’s the way we can get any [political] positions,” Singh said during a TimesLedger Newspapers interview. “Once the people are united, then we can have a representative in the Assembly, state Senate. We can make a difference in the mayoral election, comptroller election.”

The Community Board 13 member said if elected he would place a focus on aiding small businesses, improving the educational environment in public schools and using his office as a conduit for open discussion among different ethnic groups within the district.

Mark Weprin, who has served the area as a state assemblyman for the last 15 years, said his experience is one of his best assets but he will not win the primary based on his name alone.

“I’m not just a known entity because of my name,” Mark Weprin told TimesLedger. “I’m known because of my service. I’ve never asked anyone to vote for me because of my last name.”

Weprin recognizes the relative safety of the Assembly, where he is not bound by term limits, but said he is running for his brother’s seat because most of the issues he is most passionate about — education, senior citizens and small businesses — can be best addressed in the Council at the city level.

The 23rd District covers Fresh Meadows, Queens Village, Little Neck, Hollis Hills, Douglaston, Bayside, Bellerose, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Park Gardens and Holliswood.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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