BY JOE MARVILLI
Embattled Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) has decided against seeking re-election for his seat in the 19th City Council district.
The news came around the same time that the Queens GOP chose to endorse Dennis Saffran, a Republican candidate vying for the position. While the screening committee voted unanimously to back him last week, the decision was made official by the executive committee on April 30.
Halloran’s decision was released about one month after he was arrested in an FBI sting operation.
Although he will not seek re-election, Halloran has no plans to resign.
“Regrettably, I must now focus my attention on clearing my name and restoring my reputation, while I continue to discharge my sworn duties as a member of the New York City Council,” Halloran said in a press release. “I have concluded that it is impossible for me to properly do these things and take on the enormous demands of a political campaign, so I will not to pursue another term in the Council.”
The Queens GOP chose instead to back Saffran, a candidate who came very close to beating the previous councilman, now State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in 2001. Saffran lost by only about 400 votes.
“He’s got a really good public policy background,” Robert Hornak, the executive director of the Queens GOP, said. “We feel very confident that this is going to be a strong candidate.”
Saffran said he plans to run on the platform of four major issues that he feels are important to the residents of Northeast Queens. The first one is good government, a major topic for him after last month’s arrests.
“I’ve always had a reputation for honor and integrity,” he said. “We have to restore that after what’s happened with Halloran.”
Another issue for him is public safety, touting his previous support for Rudy Giuliani’s crime initiatives when he was mayor and giving credit to Mayor Michael Bloomberg for keeping the crime rate down. He supports Stop and Frisk, which he called the most effective gun program in the country, though he is for reasonable changes that make encounters more respectful. The other two issues he is running on are maintaining high educational standards and stopping overdevelopment.
Several Democratic candidates released statements on Halloran’s decision to not seek re-election.
“Councilman Halloran’s decision to not seek re-election is the right one for the people of our district,” Austin Shafran said. “They deserve a full-time Councilman who is focused on working for the people of Queens, not his own legal defense.”
“Councilman Halloran’s decision to not seek re-election is an appropriate end to an inappropriate career in politics,” Paul Graziano said. “Councilman Halloran’s bad behavior has affected not only the ability of his Council office to function, but the other actions that he has taken during his tenure that have frankly been hostile to our neighborhoods.”
“This is the right decision for those of us who live in the district,” John Duane said. “It’s good that this sad chapter for Northeast Queens is coming to a close. Now we can focus on restoring the public trust and integrity to our City government.”
“The residents of northeast Queens deserve representation they can be proud of and a principled City Council member who is accountable to the will of the people,” Paul Vallone said. “Now is the time for integrity and trust – principles which the Vallone Family has embodied for over three generations.”
Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.