Abbate Eyes Gentile’s Seat, To Decide By Christmas

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Assemblyman Peter Abbate Jr. (Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Borough Park) today sounded more and more like he will run for term-limited City Councilman Vincent Gentile‘s seat next year.

Abbate has until now refused to discuss his plans until after this week’s general election (and his reelection) campaign was over. Abbate, a 30-year incumbent, easily bested his Republican challenger Rosemary Mangano with 76 percent of the vote to Mangano’s 24 percent.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate Jr.
Assemblyman Peter Abbate Jr.

“I will be talking to people in the community over the next several weeks and I will likely make a decision between now and Christmas,” he said, adding a final decision will likely come between the Christmas and New Year holiday.

The longtime lawmaker noted that a lot of his assembly district is in Gentile’s district, although district lines have changed twice in redistricting measures during his assembly tenure.

“There were parts of my district that used to be in his (Gentile’s) district, and there are parts that are there now,” Abbate said. “I’ve worked with Vinnie a lot as almost his whole council district was at one time in my district, and even parts that are not have overlapping roles. Both districts deal with the same schools, hospitals, bus routes and subways.”

Abbate also noted the planning boards in both districts overlap and as a city councilman he would come into the district with a wealth of knowledge about Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst.

“I’ve worked with McKinley Park and JHS 201, which is not in my district, but students from my district go there and it goes on and on. I’ve worked with the Saint Francis Senior Center, which is not in my district, but I’ve worked with the people there for years,” he said.

Abbate said he’s not as interested in partisan argument over whether a Democrat or Republican is better suited for the city council seat, and is more concerned in whom that person might be as an individual.

“I don’t know if some of the candidates thinking of running have the experience to do the job. So far I haven’t seen anyone stepping up to the plate and shown leadership other than say they are running. Before I ran for the assembly, I spent a lot of time going to meetings and seeing what the issues were in the community. We’ve known for a while this is Vinnie’s last term and nobody (other candidates) has been doing that.”

Abbate also pooh-poohed the idea of some that if he ran it would be for the higher salary, which would change from a base of $79,500 annually for his assembly position to $148,500 annually for a city council member.

“If I was doing it for higher pay, I would have done it years ago,” said Abbate, adding that serving in the public sector is his life’s calling. “I have years of experience knowing what the district needs and how to get the proper funding. Education, senior care and health care have been major issues for me my whole career and that’s not going to change.”

If Abbate does decide to run for the four-year city council seat, he would have to give up the assembly seat, in which case Gov. Cuomo could either call for a special election or wait until the next scheduled election.

The demographics of Abbate’s 49th Assembly District has changed greatly over the years to a Asian-American majority. If the lawmaker does decide to run for the city council, it could open the door for the first Asian-American legislator from Brooklyn.

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