Category: Archive

Irish roots don’t hurt in diverse 26th

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

She hopes that by then she will have added another distinction to her resume — Democratic City Council candidate for the 26th District.
First, the district leader must see off party rivals Jimmy Van Bramer and Brent O’Leary in next Tuesday’s primary.
Although the 26th District has in recent decades become one of the most diverse places on the planet, all three candidates can claim that their Irish immigrant grandparents lived in its neighborhoods
All, too, are upbeat as the race enters the last days.
Feerick, who has the backing of incumbent Eric Gioia and several other borough notables like Congressman Joseph Crowley, remains the narrow favorite to win a race that is being fought out in Woodside, Sunnyside, Astoria, Long Island City and Maspeth.
“I feel good,” she said. “But I’m taking nothing for granted. I’m working like an underdog.”
She is enjoying the campaign. “It’s great to talk to people and try to come up with solutions to problems,” Feerick said.
Said Van Bramer, who picked up a New York Times endorsement at the weekend: “We are where right we want to be. We’ve worked really hard over the last year.”
He added: “Having lived in Western Queens all my life, people have known me locally for years and they’ve seen my work for the Queens Library and other efforts. The outpouring of support has been tremendously heartening. We feel very good.”
O’Leary is also confident. “The race is going very well. My team and I have knocked on 10,000 doors in the last eight weeks and have gotten almost all positive responses,” he said. “I think this may be the closest race in the city. It will probably come down to a few hundred votes.
“Meeting people has been wonderful, the paperwork a nightmare, but on balance I have had a great experience and I would recommend it for others to run,” he added.
In this district of newcomers, the three candidates point to the fact that they are only a couple of generations removed from the immigrant ship.
Feerick was raised in a household in Woodside with her grandmother, who was from near Cong in County Mayo. She passed away in 1998 at age 96. (Her Galway-born grandmother lived in Manhattan.)
Van Bramer’s paternal grandmother and longtime Woodside resident Winifred Marie Cody hailed from a family of 14 in Enniscorthy in County Wexford. The candidate, who is one of eight children, has Irish roots — O’Connors, Kehoes, Foleys and Quinns — on both sides of his family.
O’Leary’s grandparents came from County Clare and settled on 40th Street in Sunnyside. He made the return journey to study history for a year at University College Galway.
“I was proud to be endorsed by the Irish American Democrats in this race,” O’Leary said.

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