City Council hopeful sets record by pumping $716G into his bid

NY Daily News Politics 9 months ago

A Bronx Assemblyman looking to join the City Council has shelled out more cash on the bid than any Council candidate in the history of the city’s campaign finance system, records show.

Mark Gjonaj spent at least $716,469 on his campaign as of late last month — the most spending on a Council bid since 1989, when Campaign Finance Board records first began.

He’s running in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the seat representing neighborhoods like Throggs Neck and Pelham Bay currently held by Jimmy Vacca, who faces term limits.

Gjonaj beats out other big spenders over the years including Kevin Kim, who spent $641,491 on an unsuccessful bid for a Queens Council seat in 2009, and Yen Chou, who spent $527,775 on a different Queens seat the same year.

This year, he has spent nearly twice as much as his closest competitor — Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield, who spent $373,364 before dropping his reelection bid.

Rival candidate Marjorie Velazquez slammed Gjonaj’s big bucks bid.

“Everyone in the Northeast Bronx knows that developers are trying to buy our neighborhood, and now Mark Gjonaj, with his developer friends, are breaking the bank trying to steal this election,” she said.

“No amount of money that they throw at this race can hide the fact that he has time and again supported big landlords and developers over the needs of our community.”

Velazquez, a Democratic district leader and community board member, has spent $164,643 on the race, while John Doyle, a hospital official and former state Senate aide, has spent $131,957.

"Mark Gjonaj is running for City Council for one reason only: To better represent the quality of life issues that are currently affecting residents of District 13. Marjorie Velazquez has perpetrated one of the most negative campaigns this community has ever seen,” shot back Gjonaj spokeswoman Jennifer Blatus.

“While she seeks to divide our community, Mark Gjonaj has remained positive and focused on one goal — to wake up City Hall to the needs of our neighbors.”

Gjonaj has only continued to shell out cash since the latest CFB filing — spending at least another $123,715 over the last two weeks, disclosure reports show.

His biggest expenditures include $57,000 to the Advance Group for TV and radio ads and $26,500 to Global Strategy Group for polling.

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