There will be a special election on Tuesday in the 30th City Council District in Queens, which includes Ridgewood, Middle Village and Glendale. The seat became vacant after the resignation of City Councilman Dennis Gallagher, who admitted to sexually abusing a woman in his district office. Voters in this election, to fill the seat for the rest of the year, should seize the chance to force some much-needed change.
The ballot, on which the candidates will be listed without party affiliation, is crowded with the old way of doing business. Thomas Ognibene, a conservative Republican and former councilman, wants to retake the seat. He held it until he hit the term limit and stepped aside for Mr. Gallagher, who was Mr. Ognibene’s chief of staff. Mr. Ognibene is too tied to clubhouse politics, as is another Republican, Anthony Como, an aide to State Senator Serphin Maltese and a former assistant district attorney. His command of the issues is unimpressive.
Elizabeth Crowley, one of two Democrats, has the same problem, having built her candidacy not on talent or experience but on party machinery. She is the cousin of Representative Joseph Crowley, the Queens Democratic Party leader, and has raised the most money. Ms. Crowley, whose parents represented the area on the Council, is short on substance on issues like budget reform and education. She also ran afoul of campaign finance laws when she ran against Mr. Gallagher in 2001.
The other Democrat in the race is Charles Ober, a financial executive and community activist. The fact that Mr. Ober is openly gay has drawn attention because of the district’s conservative leanings. But more important are his deep roots in the community and the years he has spent engaging his neighbors on problems like prostitution and graffiti. His energy and civic engagement would be a valuable addition in the City Council.
District 30 deserves a serious-minded, independent legislator who will put the needs of constituents first. That’s why we endorse Charles Ober for City Council.
Charles Ober for City Council