State Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside, said he is not planning on giving an endorsement in the race for Councilman Dan Halloran’s seat.
Avella, who previously held the seat before Halloran took office in 2010, said he did not intend to throw his weight behind Democrat Paul Vallone or Republican Dennis Saffran in the Council race.
“I recently became aware of and received a mailer from City Council District 19 Candidate Dennis Saffran, which included a quote of mine as well as a photo,” Avella said. “Unfortunately, some people have interpreted this mailer as either having come from me or as an endorsement of Mr. Saffran. Let me be clear, I did not authorize or send out this mailer. As I have said on multiple occasions, I have not endorsed either candidate in this race and will continue to remain neutral.”
Saffran’s campaign said that the intention of the mailer was not to insinuate that Avella had backed the candidate in the race.
“The purpose of the mailer was simply to reprint a breathtakingly shocking Democratic primary mailing sent out by Paul Vallone and the big developers group, Jobs for NY, exploiting a memorial to the murdered schoolchildren in Newtown, CT,” a statement from Saffran’s campaign said.
Saffran’s campaign said the flyer’s intention was to link the Vallone mailer with a press conference held in August during which Avella and four Democrats running in the September primary – Austin Shafran, Chrissy Voskerichian, Paul Graziano and John Duane – blasted Vallone’s campaign for another series of flyers sent out by Jobs for New York.
Since then, Graziano has backed Saffran in the race, while Duane has thrown his support behind Vallone.
Austin Finan, a spokesman for Vallone, slammed Saffran’s flyer, saying that mailers sent out by Jobs for New York were not endorsed by Vallone and that city campaign finance records could prove that his campaign had not paid for them.
“Dennis Saffran’s lying is downright pathological,” Finan said. “Didn’t we just get rid of a Council member who hasn’t a shred of integrity? I guess this is what voters should learn to expect from a guy who is the nominee of the Queens GOP, the same party that has a history of shopping nominations to the highest bidder and was recently under FBI investigation.”