For all intents and purposes, the race for the 11th Senate district in northeast Queens has finally been settled. After three months of recounting contested ballots, Frank Padavan, who has held the seat for over 30 years, will continue to serve as State Senator.
This Sunday he'll even hold a swearing-in ceremony at Holy Cross High School in Bayside, over a month after Hiram Monserrate, who is embroiled in an embarrassing violent incident with his girlfriend that could have serious legal ramifications, managed to take the oath of office.
Now that the whole matter is behind us, Pol Position would be remiss if we didn't take a look back at how we got to this point.
Councilman James Gennaro was just one of the starry-eyed dreamers who hoped to ride a wave of optimism and change to pull off an unlikely upset by unseating an incumbent and cruise into the job security that comes with an office up in Albany. With the Republicans floundering at every level of government, Democrat Gennaro hoped to avoid the whole term limits flap in the City Council by upgrading to State Senator, a job you can generally keep until you are forced to resign because of scandal.
And he almost pulled it off.
Padavan held a slim margin the morning after Election Day, and Gennaro demanded a recount in the interest of democracy and justice, two principles that, according to the councilman, the current state senator cares nothing about. Cue the nasty mudslinging.
Gennaro argued that Padavan and his Republican cronies used the courts to wage unfair challenges to contest perfectly legal ballots, namely those of immigrants, St. John's University students, and even people with disabilities.
Of course, there are two sides to every story.
Padavan claims that Gennaro and his campaign managers, Parkside Group, used the courts to try and steal the state senate seat right out from under him.
"As a result of their outrageous tactics, Gennaro and the Parkside Group are responsible for wasting thousands of taxpayers' dollars," Padavan said in his own statement.
Which should have been the end of it, but Gennaro just couldn't help issuing a new statement of his own.
"Frank Padavan's 480-vote margin out of 95,000 cast doesn't entitle him to his own set of facts," read Gennaro's new statement. "The reality is that he and his Republican attorneys challenged nearly 1,000 valid ballots, subpoenaed college students during final exams and needlessly dragged the recount on in court for three months. Jim Gennaro didn't."
Now the dust may have settled, but surely the bitter feelings will linger. One of the most beneficial things in New York government is if the elected officials from the city to the federal level can work together. If everybody is on the same page, creative solutions to big problems are easier to come by.
Will these two ever be able to be in the same room with each other ever again? Pol Position thinks the answer is yes, and we base that on history.
Gennaro isn't the only upstart Democrat who has considered breaking Padavan's three-decade stranglehold on the 11 Senate District. A couple of years back, Councilman Tony Avella considered making a run for Albany. He eventually backed out, but not before telling The Daily News that he had made Frank Padavan “scared.”
Padavan didn't take too kindly to that comment, and Pol Position caught him telling a Republican club in Forest Hills that it made him mad as hell, and that he felt like going over to Avella's house and making him feel his anger. Where Pol Position grew up, that’s the equivalent of asking “grass or gravel?”, which easily overshadows a few testy statements sent out to members of the media.
And yet, just last week both men were at the same event, honoring the same two Eagle Scouts (by the way, congrats Ken Chan and James J. Shannon!) for their achievement of reaching the highest rank in the Boy Scouts, and they managed to avoid fisticuffs.
The solution: Carefully timed photo ops.