Colton supporters urge him to run for congress

January 12, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember Mark Treyger (left) and Democratic District Leader Nancy Tong organized a rally to push Assemblymember Bill Colton (right) to run for Congress. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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With the Staten Island Republican Party announcing its selection of that borough’s District Attorney Daniel Donovan as its candidate to run for the congressional seat left vacant by Michael Grimm, attention is now turning to the Democratic Party.

On Sunday, supporters of Assemblymember Bill Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) organized a rally at the United Progressive Democratic Club, his political clubhouse in Bensonhurst, to try to convince the nine-term Assembly member to throw his hat into the ring.

Colton didn’t announce that he’s running, but he did tell supporters that he is giving it some serious thought.

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“You are here urging me to run, and I’m listening to you,” he said at the rally, which was organized by Councilmember Mark Treyger and Nancy Tong and Charles Ragusa, the Democratic Party’s district leaders of the 47th Assembly District, the district Colton represents.

Colton has announced that he is strongly considering running for the seat in the 11th Congressional District (Staten Island-southwest Brooklyn) that was left vacant when former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm resigned on Jan. 5 after pleading guilty to income tax fraud. Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) is also mulling a run. Two Staten Islanders, former Congressman Michael McMahon and Assemblymember Michael Cusick (R-Staten Island) are said to be considering running.

The candidate will be chosen by Democratic Party leaders. Since Staten Island takes up most of the congressional district (approximately two-thirds to Brooklyn’s one-third), Staten Island Democratic Party Chairman John P. Gulino will likely have more of a say in the selection than his Brooklyn counterpart, Frank Seddio, political observers told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will set a date for a special election.

In his remarks to supporters, Colton repeatedly sought to stress the ties between Brooklyn and Staten Island and said he would fight for constituents on both sides of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

“What is happening in southwest Brooklyn is also happening on Staten Island. Staten Island and southern Brooklyn feel neglected. A $15 toll on the Verrazano Bridge; why is this happening? It’s a burden on working families. This has been happening all over and it needs to stop,” he said.

“He has a track record. Everyone knows what he does,” Tong said of Colton.

Treyger, who was mentored by Colton years ago when he was an 18-year-old student interested in politics, said Colton has gotten results for his Assembly district and would do the same as a Congress member. Treyger pointed to Colton’s fight against the city over a garbage incinerator in Bensonhurst (the trash burner was eventually shut down), his successful battle to get the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to extend the route of the B64 bus, and his efforts to improve safety for non-English speaking students at the Lafayette High School Campus as examples.

Colton pushed the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate bias crimes against Asian students at Lafayette High School. The investigation, which took place in 2004, found widespread incidents of violence against Asian students and steps were taken by the New York City Department of Education to increase safety.

“He relishes taking on the odds, even though they are stacked against him,” Treyger said. “He represents the antidote to bad politics.”

Other speakers singing Colton’s praises included Pastor Eric Salgado, who ran for mayor in 2013; G. Jack Spatola, president of the Federation of Italian American Organizations of Brooklyn; and Kevin Peter Carroll, Democratic district leader of the 64th A.D. (Bay Ridge-Staten Island).

On Jan. 10, the Staten Island Republican Party announced its choice of D.A. Donovan to be its candidate. The Brooklyn Republican Party, led by Craig Eaton, had not yet announced its support for Donovan as of press time.

Donovan, who handled the Eric Garner chokehold case, said Sunday he hopes Democrats won’t make the case an issue as he runs for the vacated congressional seat.

-Additional information from The Associated Press

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