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Constantinides Has Fundraising Lead in Astoria City Council Race

ASTORIA — Costa Constantinides, one of three candidates vying for the City Council seat held by term-limited Peter Vallone Jr., is far ahead of his competitors when it comes to fundraising, according to filings released by the Campaign Finance Board last week.

Constantinides, a lifetime Astoria resident and Democratic District Leader who works as deputy chief of staff for City Councilman James Gennaro, raked in a total of $109,996 in campaign funds, more than double that of his next closest competitor.

Fellow Democratic candidate Tony Meloni, a well-known Astoria resident who runs local advocacy organizations New York Anti-Crime and Immigration Advocacy Services, has raised $44,038. Republican candidate Daniel Peterson has raised $5,380, the filings show.

"We're proud to have secured all this support so early in the campaign," Constantinides said in an e-mail.

Constantinides, who records show filed his first fundraising disclosure in January of 2011, received money from 554 donors. More than $82,000 of what he's raised came from New York City residents and $27,835 came from outside the area.

Many of his large donations came from labor unions and Constantinides has snagged the support of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and the Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), among others.

"I deeply appreciate that I can count on strong fundraising support from progressive groups, labor unions, local small businesses, and my community's leaders," Constantinides said.

Meloni, meanwhile, received donations from 256 donors, the bulk of whom are based in the New York City and local donations accounted for $40,318 of the $44,038 he's raised.

"We're getting a lot of local support," Meloni said. "I looked at the numbers and I looked at the people who gave to me and its 90 percent local people — local business owners, local merchants local residents, who've known me for many years."

Meloni said he anticipated trailing Constantinides in funding since he launched his campaign later — his first donations were filed in June of 2012, nearly a year and half after Constantinides'.

"Costa has been running for a while," Meloni said.

"Mine is grassroots campaign. It's not about having high-rollers contributing," he added, saying he's relying on local Astoria support to carry him.

Records show that Meloni's average contribution was $198 while Constantinides' was $172.

"I've been involved in the community for 25 years. I don't have to introduce myself to people."

Republican Daniel Peterson — whom Politicker identified as former president of the New York Young Republican Club — is also running for the Astoria seat, campaign filings show. Attempts to reach Peterson's campaign for comment were not returned by press time.