2009-01-23 / Front Page

Campaign Spending Spree Is On

By Nicholas Briano

The February 24 special election to fill the 32nd City Council District seat is a month away and the seven candidates are already starting to spend their cash.

But none more than Mike Ricatto, who became most known in city-wide news when his campaign bus, driven by a man with a suspended license, struck and killed a nine-year-old Ozone Park boy earlier this month.

Ricatto, despite suspending his campaign as a result of the accident, has still out-raised his opponents by a considerable amount.

According to numbers released by the New York City Campaign Finance Board this week, Ricatto has raised $98,085 for the election and spent $96,190 thus far.

Republican District Leader Eric Ulrich has spent $47,436 and is the closest to matching Ricatto's output. Frank Gulluscio, a former aide to Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., has raised more than $40,750 but only spent $5,872, as of last Friday. It is Addabbo's City Council seat that was vacated when he was elected to the State Senate this past November that has resulted in this special election.

Among Rockaway candidates, Democratic District Leader Geraldine Chapey has not spent any of the $21,760 raised, while former NYPD lieutenant Glenn DiResto has raised $8,196 but only spent $3,644. Democratic District Leader Lew Simon has raised $20,710 and spent $11,218.

Sam Di Bernardo, the last candidate to file before the January 15 deadline, has declined to participate in the public campaign finance system.

Spending limits, regardless of the candidates' participation in the public campaign finance program, which matches privately raised campaign monies with public funds, is $161,000, according to the Campaign Finance Board.

Despite how much cash is spent on campaigns, many voters will get little opportunity to learn about the candidates. Therefore, The Wave has planned a special election forum at 7 p.m. on February 9, at West End Temple, located at 147-02 Newport Avenue. Residents of the district are encouraged to attend to meet the candidates and hear where each stands on the issues that impact Rockaway most.

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