BY JORDAN GIBBONS
Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) will be resigning within the next two weeks from his seat as the representative for District 23, which he has held since 2010.
Weprin will be taking a position in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration as the Deputy Secretary for Legislative Affairs.
The Weprin family has had a strong relationship with the Cuomo family since Gov. Mario Cuomo was in office and Weprin’s father, Saul Weprin, was the Assembly Speaker. Mark won his father’s seat in the Assembly in 1994, following his death.
“It has been my privilege to serve the people and families of my neighborhood,” Weprin said in a statement. “In the office of Gov. Cuomo, I will continue to serve the people of New York.”
Sources said that Weprin became increasingly frustrated with his role in the City Council as well as the progressive direction the Council is heading.
Weprin’s brother, David, who is currently an Assemblyman, is considering stepping down from his position to run for the City Council seat that he held from 2002-2009.
“I have to consider it,” David Weprin said. “I enjoyed it when I was there. The only reason I left was because I was term-limited.”
He added that there are pros and cons of both the Council and the Assembly, where he is building up seniority and is not as limited by jurisdiction. But the Council does not have to worry about the other side of the aisle with the majority.
“I’ll probably decide in the next couple of days,” he said.
One hurdle that he would face if he decides to run a campaign is $319,711 in outstanding repayment of public funds he owes to the City Campaign Finance Board from his campaign for City Comptroller in 2009, according to CFB records.
Weprin did repay more than $28,000 in penalties and told the Queens Tribune that it would not be an issue if he decides to run for the Council seat.
“I’ve settled everything,” he said.
But, the CFB said that it would be an issue if he wants to have his small dollar contributions matched by the City.
“In order to receive public funding, he would need to repay every amount to the CFB,” Matt Sollars, a spokesman for the agency, said.
If Weprin does not run for his old seat, former Assemblyman and Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik has expressed interest in running for the seat.
“I’m seriously looking into the race,” Grodenchik said. “I’ve been making calls and trying to garnish support.”
Other names that have been rumored to be interested in the position are Dominic Panakal, Rory Lancman’s chief of staff, and Ali Najmi, an attorney and local activist.
Panakal and Najmi both declined to comment on the rumors.
Another name that has been floated around is Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), whose Assembly District neighbors Weprin’s Council District.
“Assemblywoman Rozic is considering all options on how to best serve her constituents in Eastern Queens,” said Rozic’s Legislative and Communications Director Meagan Molina.
District 23 covers Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village. The District also has a growing Southeast Asian population.
Once Mark Weprin resigns from his position, Mayor Bill de Blasio must set a date for the special election, which is officially nonpartisan and does not include a primary.
Reach Reporter Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400, Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.