Ragusa Will Remain Queens GOP Head

BY LUIS GRONDA
Staff Writer

Phil Ragusa will remain chair of the Queens County Republican Party after the petition against his election was dismissed.

According to a court filing obtained by the Queens Tribune, the judge ruled the case against last September’s reorganizational meeting invalid, saying there was not enough evidence to overturn the vote, which saw Ragusa retain his position as head of the Queens GOP, against former U.S. Rep. Bob Turner.

“The court has examined the petition and finds that it fails to set forth facts sufficient to justify the relief requested. The petition must set forth facts supporting the claim that irregularities occurred at the organizational meeting which altered the outcome of the election,” the filing read in part.

Last year, Turner’s side, represented by former Councilman Tom Ognibene, filed a petition in court, challenging the vote over concerns about the meeting’s operation, including the vote being held on a weekday afternoon, which allegedly prevented some members from attending the meeting.

The filing ruled that notice for the meeting was clear and sufficient.

The breakaway Republican faction, led by Councilman Eric Ulrich (R- Ozone Park), also alleged that some members were either given notice of the meeting 48 hours or less before the meeting took place, or they received a different notice than the one originally sent out. The filing states that these claims were not supported by affidavits from any of the petitioners.

“None of the petitioners claim that they did not receive notice of said meeting, or that they did not attend said meeting due to a lack of notice,” according to the filing.

The filing also states that the petitioners did not submit a copy of the organization’s rules and bylaws, despite claiming that the notice of the meeting, as well as some members’ conduct at the meeting, violated its rules and bylaws.

Robert Hornak, the party’s Executive Director, was elated that the court ruled in their favor.

“It’s a positive step for the Queens GOP and hopefully we can reunite and move forward,” he said.

Hornak added that they expected the decision to be in their favor and they hope the opposition is willing to sit down and bury the hatchet with them.

“We did everything according to the rules and bylaws,” he said. “There was no grounds to sue other than, they didn’t like the result.”

Calls for comment placed to Ulrich and Ognibene were not returned as of press time.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com, or @luisgronda.