With the advent of term limits, we will be losing one of our most effective legislators in City Councilman Tom Ognibene, who has served this community well for 10 years. Two candidates will be on the ballot in November, vying to replace the Councilman. They are Dennis Gallagher, 37 year old chief of staff to Councilman Ognibene and Elizabeth Crowley, 23 year old cousin to Congressman Joseph Crowley. Below is an interview conducted by our community affairs reporter, Tiffany Elliott.

Spotlight on the Candidates for City Council
Juniper Berry Interview with Elizabeth Crowley

How old are you?

I was born in 1977.

So, that makes you 23?


How old are your children?
One is 5, in kindergarten and the other is 4 on Friday.

Why do you want this job?
I like to make a difference. We need someone dedicated full time to improve the quality of life overall. We need an advocate and an open ear to listen.

What do you do for a living?
I have a degree in historic preservation and decorative painting. I restore homes, etc.

That’s freelancing because you only work when you are hired for a specific job, right?
Um, yes…I’ve done the Central Synagogue in Forest Hills. I am also a substitute teacher in (School) District 24.

For how long?
Since December 1999. I have a Bachelor’s Degree.

How many hours have you logged in the classroom?
I don’t know, maybe 100.

Have you ever done any community volunteer work?
Well, I spent a summer as a teenager working for the Parks Department.

What about volunteer work?
Well, I drop by my mom’s day care center and am very active in my union, which works all over the city. I don’t do any community work but even though I’ve never been in a civic club, I am active in my painter’s union. Laughs – Why are you so interested in my community work?

Let’s move on.
You first announced you’d run in the 26th council district and then you moved to the 30th. You mentioned they were similar communities, but they are substantially different – the 26th has many housing projects. First, why did you move and second, why do you think the districts are the same?

Well, I feel I better represent the 30th, since I grew up here. There is also a Democrat in the 26th already and we need to get the Republicans out of the 30th. Not all districts are the same, every one is different.

What is your plan to get more officers in the 104 Precinct?
Well, as everyone knows, response time has been a problem so I suggest a satellite office in Middle Village. We also need to give them raises, I would voice my opinion if I am in the City Council.

Where would the money come from?
(no concrete answer) – TE

Do you think we need more schools in the area?
Yes, there is a big need especially for junior high and high schools. I would put them in the Ridgewood, Glendale and Middle Village areas.

How do you feel about extending Rudy Giuliani’s term to deal with the crisis?
I would extend it for 3 months.

At the YMCA debate, you supported the Ferrer plan to raise taxes 4 cents a day for dedicated after school programs. Why?
I didn’t say that.

It was in the papers and many people attending heard you.
Well, I didn’t, and you shouldn’t be believe everything you read, but if all other resources were exhausted, I would raise taxes.

Ok, will you support Fernando Ferrer for election then?
No, I support Green, I hope he wins.

In the Queens Tribune you said you support gay unions (marriages), can you tell me why?
Sigh…That was Frank [Borzellieri]. I never said that, I said equal rights for all people.

Does that mean you do or do not support it?
{No comment} I’d rather not discuss this.

Speaking of Frank Borzellieri, knowing his history, do you think you should have accepted his endorsement money?
We have only two things in common…same district and same beliefs.

So you have the same right-wing controversial beliefs as he does?
No, but he wants a hard working city council member. We don’t agree on all issues.

But that’s not what you just said.

In light of the WTC terrorist attack, what can you tell the Juniper Park Civic members that would ensure you have the leadership experience to help this city in its most trying time?

Our priorities have shifted. The most important is being safe and helping our economy. I am confident our police force and the FBI are on top of our safety. I would encourage everyday activities to go on.

Thank you very much for giving me your time. Good luck.

Berry Evaluation: Lack of experience obvious in Crowley

This interview was very difficult because I would have to ask questions repeatedly since they were not answered. I felt Elizabeth Crowley was very evasive on almost all topics and definitely skipped around most of my questions. She answered in almost robotic terms, as if she had spent time studying the answers. I prefer my government officials to naturally be able to field questions instead of being told what to say. I have a deep concern with respect to Ms. Crowley’s answers at debates vs. her statements during interviews.

One example is that she attempted to praise the mayor during this interview but at a debate said that he was intellectually incapable of providing leadership with respect to education. I was also concerned, when doing a little background before this interview, I looked into NYC’s Campaign Finance Board website and found almost all of Crowley’s contributions are from special interest groups outside our community. This raised serious questions about her commitment to community issues.

– Tiffany Elliott