With Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.’s eyes on a larger prize, two Astoria natives have their sights set on his seat.
Democrat Tony Meloni, the founder and executive director of the New York Anti-Crime Agency, has already announced his intent to run for office in the 22nd Council District in 2013, while Costa Constantinides, who is serving as the deputy chief of staff for Councilmember James Gennaro, is “strongly considering” entering the race – now that Vallone is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.
Vallone says he is seriously mulling over a run for borough president, and that he has already begun raising money and discussing the possibility with officials throughout Queens. The councilmember went on to say he has yet to endorse a candidate to replace him, and will make that decision at a later time.
“I’ve worked with Tony for many years on Astoria issues, especially as they relate to public safety,” Vallone said. “He’s been working in the Astoria neighborhood for decades. I think he’s going to make a very formidable candidate. Costa has not announced, but I’ve been to a few of his fundraisers and said good things about him.”
Meloni plans to run on a platform focused on aiding small businesses, improving air quality and increasing public safety – particularly preventing another rash of gropings and sexual assaults, which have recently plagued Astoria. “Between the New York Anti-Crime Agency, the Immigration Advocacy Services, Community Board 1 and a large number of community organizations, I’ve been involved in the community for 27 years,” said the 56-year-old Meloni. “I wouldn’t be in this if I didn’t think I could win. I think I have a very strong base in our community and neighborhoods. I’ve been fighting for the community for many years, and this position could help me make a bigger difference. I feel I have the pulse of the community, and I know what we need to do in our area to keep it the vibrant and safe community that it is.”
Constantinides, who would also run as a Democrat if he opts to throw his hat in the ring, was previously president of the Queens County Young Democrats and legislative director for Councilmember Darlene Mealy. He is also currently the Democratic leader for 36th Assembly District.
“I’ve been meeting with civic and community leaders, elected officials and union leaders to gauge my support for City Council, and right now I’m getting overwhelming support,” said Constantinides, who claims he has already raised $33,000 through an exploratory campaign committee. “I’m a lifelong Astoria resident, and I love this community. I know what it takes to get things done. I’ve worked in the City Council for almost the last six years. I’ve been Democratic district leader for over three years, and in that time I’ve worked on things like saving the post office on 30th Avenue and making traffic safer for pedestrians on 21st Avenue.”
If he elects to run, Constantinides hopes to improve health care in the area, decrease overcrowding in neighborhood schools and make air quality cleaner.
The 37-year-old believes he could be very successful in the election, but spoke highly of his potential opponent, calling Meloni a “wonderful guy” who he has the “upmost respect for.”