A contentious race is underway for the 19th City Council District seat in Northeast Queens. Incumbent Paul Vallone faces a challenge by an opponent he has faced before. NY1's Clodagh McGowan reports.
It's not the first time incumbent City Council member Paul Vallone and his challenger, urban planner Paul Graziano have faced off in a primary election.
In 2013, Graziano lost the Democratic primary to Vallone, who went on to serve the district, which encompasses Northeast Queens.
"We brought our district back on the map and put it right on top of the map," said Vallone.
This year’s primary race has not been without controversy. Graziano filed a lawsuit challenging the petition signatures gathered by Vallone. Graziano was forced to withdraw the lawsuit due to a lack of funding. On Monday, he held a press conference alleging the Vallone campaign used minors to help gather signatures and staff members signed petitions multiple times.
"There are very, very serious things that happened. And people need to know, the voters need to know," said Graziano.
Vallone calls the allegations unfortunate.
"When you have nothing to say and you have no one to stand with you, you resort to shameful and wrongful lawsuits," said Vallone.
But there is one issue the candidates see eye to eye on.
"Education is the heart of this community," said Vallone.
"Education is a very big issue in Northeast Queens. We are generally considered two of the best school districts in the city," said Graziano.
Vallone says accessibility for senior citizens; quality of life issues and small business remain a priority for him. Graziano says land use and illegal building infractions are a major problem in Northeast Queens. He's also keeping a close eye on environmental issues.
Vallone and Graziano will face off in the Democratic Primary race on Tuesday, September 12th.