The Wave can’t help but sometimes think about what is in store for our community in the coming years. With Senator Waldon’s confirmation to the Court of Appeals pending, we decided to look into our crystal ball and give our political predictions (not our endorsements).
Waldon will be confirmed, after the Senate Republicans (led by Majority Leader Joseph Bruno) blow off some steam about Governor Pataki appointing a Democrat. Once the confirmation is clear, Pataki will announce a special election for the 10th Senatorial District, which encompasses the entire Rockaway peninsula and other areas of Queens. So far, the two most serious contenders being mentioned are Jo Ann Shapiro and Malcolm Smith.
Shapiro is presently chief of staff to Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and is involved with a number of Rockaway groups. Smith ran the Rockaway office of Congressman Floyd Flake and is a developer on the east end of the peninsula. Smith is favored by the Meeks-Flake coalition, which seems to be where the money and volunteers are based. Shapiro is seen to be closer to Rockaway, as she lives here, but her critics, and many she has, say that she would never be able to handle the position. In the past she has been criticized for her lack of people skills and is thought to be a liability to Assemblywoman Pheffer. Her supporters point out that her position as sidekick to Pheffer prepares her for the state senate position.
Shapiro will probably go against the Democratic machine if she challenges Smith. Smith, who is familiar with the issues and concerns about Rockaway, is young and ambitious. He brings some fresh ideas to the table and supporters believe that like Flake, Smith will carry support from all ends of the peninsula. Looks like it could be a close race, but add the geographics and demographics of the district into the equation and Smith pulls it off in the end.
Y2K will offer locals another race as well. Assemblywoman Pheffer is once again up for re-election. This time we believe she will not go unchallenged. Political sources tell us that Councilman Stabile will change course, decide not to run for the borough presidency and give Pheffer a run for her money. It probably would become a race that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars on both sides.
Since both candidates are well-known, we assume that the issues would be the immediate focus. Stabile and Pheffer have records to promote and defend, so it could get nasty fast. It is a tough call, and would be a tough race for both, but Pheffer stays alive for two more years with a small margin of victory. She decides then to make it her last term in office before retiring from politics.
Finally, we get to the city council race in 2001. It looks like it will be a crowded field, with Joseph Addabbo, jr. (who lost to Stabile in 1997), Democratic District Leaders Lew Simon and Geraldine Chapey, Jo Ann Shapiro, George Russo (of the Russo's on the Bay family), and Joann Ariola. Addabbo might be able to get the Democratic Party's nod, but a recent poll done by an independent pollster shows Lew Simon with more name recognition and greater margin of support by likely Democratic voters. Ariola would surely get the support of the Republican Party, making things look like an Addabbo-Ariola or Simon-Ariola match-up. Rockaway would benefit to have at least one candidate from the peninsula in such a race, or all our concerns might become tomorrow's news. Another close race in both scenarios, but our crystal ball shows Ariola taking it.
Let the races begin!