Construction figures biggest donors to Avella

By Adam Pincus | January 15, 2008 03:07PM

Construction industry figures are the two biggest donors to the mayoral campaign of City Council member Tony Avella, a Queens Democrat who has been a fierce critic of development.

Vincent Riso, a co-owner of the real estate development and management company the Briarwood Organization, of Bayside, donated the maximum $4,950. Thomas Chen, president of manufacturer Crystal Window and Door Systems of Flushing, gave $4,500, campaign filings showed.

Avella said the two donors “support policies I am fighting for.”

“Nobody is against development,” he said. “I am against over-development and out-of-character development.”

He added, “These two donations are an insignificant amount compared to the real estate donations given to other candidates.”

Avella, chairman of the Council’s Zoning and Franchises Committee, raised $77,525 in the six-month period from July 11, 2007, to Jan. 11, 2008.

Avella remains far behind other well-financed contenders for mayor, including Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat whose district covers Queens and Brooklyn. Weiner had raised $2 million as of July, records showed.

Avella has championed rezoning neighborhoods to restrict development, especially in Queens, which has seen more rezonings than any other borough.

Avella helped push through land-use changes two years ago in his Queens neighborhood of Bayside, where large McMansions rising on small lots.

In a September interview for The Real Deal’s webcast, Avella said, “Well, I’m sure my picture is on a dart board in a lot of developers’ offices, and I’m sure they’re throwing darts at it. But again, I’m not against development; I’m against the unscrupulous developers who may only represent 5 percent of what’s out there in the industry.”