Tag Archives: District 19

Whitestone streets receive extra cleaning


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Paul Vallone

Whitestone is getting supplemental street cleaning through July 1 in an extension of the City Council NYC Cleanup Initiative of 2014, which saw every council member allocate funding to provide cleaning services for their district.

Councilman Paul Vallone was given nearly $70,000 as part of the program to clean streets in Bayside and College Point, but after community input and requests from Whitestone residents, he was able to add select areas in that neighborhood as well.

The cleaning is done by workers from The Doe Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides services to people with histories of homelessness, incarceration and substance abuse.

The initiative has been so well received that Vallone intends to work to get funding for it included again in the city’s 2016 budget.

“I’m proud to have been able to work with The Doe Fund to bring this cleanup initiative to Whitestone,” said Vallone. “Clean sidewalks and litter-free streets will go a long way towards beautifying and revitalizing Whitestone Village.”

Whitestone residents said that the extra cleaning makes a big difference in their community.

“Our members have already informed us about the difference they see in the village of Whitestone,” said Kim Cody, president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association.

The new routes will be cleaned until July 1. The cleanup area covered in Whitestone includes 149th Street to Clintonville Street; 150th Street between the Cross Island Service Road and 12th Avenue; and Clintonville Street between 14th and 12th roads.

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Participatory budgeting extends to more Queens council districts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photos

Residents in nine Queens City Council districts will be given the power this year to decide where and how their tax dollars will be spent in their communities.

Last spring, community members in three Queens council districts – Councilman Mark Weprin’s District 23, Councilman Donovan Richard’s District 31 and Councilman Eric Ulrich’s District 32 – were given the opportunity to vote on community projects that would benefit from one million dollars of each council member’s capital discretionary funds.

This year joining those three districts are six new Queens council districts including Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras’ District 21, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz’s District 29, Councilman I. Daneek Miller’s District 27, Councilman Paul Vallone’s District 19, Councilman Costa Constantinides’ District 22 and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s District 26.

The overall process begins in the fall when residents suggest ideas and choose budget delegates during public meetings. Those volunteers then develop proposals based on the suggestions which are presented to the public before the voting occurs.

Voting this year will take place between April 11 and April 19 and each voter, ages 16 and up, can chose up to five projects. A total of 24 council members throughout the city are participating in this year’s voting.

“Participatory budgeting has been rewarding for our entire district. This entire process has featured ideas generated by members of the community,” Constantinides said. “It has provided an opportunity for residents to become engaged with the civic process through events and meeting. Everyone has shared their common love of their neighborhood and become more interconnected.”

Projects being voted on in Constantinides’ district include renovations at local schools, such as sound proofing P.S. 122’s cafeteria, redesigning the streetscape on Newtown Avenue between 32nd and 22rd streets to construct a pedestrian plaza, turning unused lots into dog runs in Astoria and Jackson Heights, and renovating the basketball court at the Astoria Houses.

In Councilman Miller’s district, residents will be able to vote on 23 projects which include improvements at local parks, technology upgrades at schools and enhancing cultural facilities such as upgrading the Jamaica Performing Arts Center.

The $1 million in projects that residents in District 19 can vote on include creating a $400,000 state-of-the-art music studio at Bayside High School, funding three NYPD security cameras, and installing real time passenger countdown clocks along the Q12 and Q13 bus routes.

“With a wide range of voting locations throughout northeast Queens, we encourage and hope to see everyone come out and vote for the projects that they believe will have the best impact on the community,” Vallone said.

In District 23, voters can choose projects such as upgrades to the Queens Village and North Hills libraries, fitness equipment at Alley Pond Park, technology upgrades at local schools and portable security cameras at three sites.

Residents in Councilman Ulrich’s district that encompasses Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park can vote on projects such as renovating the Forest Park Dog Park, refurbishing the 9/11 memorial in Forest Park and installing emergency call boxes in Forest Park. For residents living in the councilman’s district in the Rockaway peninsula, projects include a $500,000 repair of center medians along Cross Bay Boulevard, upgrades to local schools, and the construction of a rock climbing wall in Rockaway Beach adjacent to the new boardwalk.

For more information on the projects and where to vote, click here.

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Vallone announces new high school program, outlines big ideas for district


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Councilmember Paul Vallone wants sparks to fly during his time in office.

The freshman legislator launched idea after idea — including shooting fireworks on Bell Boulevard and hosting movie and game nights — during a two-hour interview with The Courier.

“I want to bring back that old-time feel,” he said, gazing at the boulevard out of his fifth floor Bell Plaza windows.

“You look at things from a different perspective,” he said. “As a father, I think, ‘What would my kids want to do?”

His long list of plans for the district also include having quarterly roundtables with the district’s community groups and starting up a new Student Ambassadors program in February with three local high schools.

The initiative allows about 10 juniors from Holy Cross High School, Bayside High School and World Journalism Preparatory to serve for a year as community representatives.

The teens would organize food collections and cleanups, take trips to City Hall and even draft a bill to be introduced in the City Council.

“It’s the next generation’s input,” Vallone said. “I’m not going to touch it, whatever they draft.”

As for his own bill, Vallone filed his first piece of legislation Jan. 9, calling for the city to recognize Lunar New Year as a major holiday.

It supports a law already introduced in the State Senate and Assembly that has not moved for years.

The lawmaker also plans to continue participatory budgeting, which begins in 2015 at its earliest. The city initiative gives residents the chance to develop and vote on physical infrastructure projects they want to see in their neighborhoods.

At the top of his growing list of priorities is still making sure a school is not built in the former Whitestone Jewels site.

“This is nonstop,” he said. “We’re still watching.”

 

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Paul Vallone sworn into City Council


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@pfvjr

Councilmember Paul Vallone was officially sworn into the City Council Tuesday by City Clerk Michael McSweeney.

The freshman legislator, who represents District 19, begins his term Jan. 1.

He will have a local inauguration ceremony Jan. 4.

 

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Paul Vallone wins race for Halloran’s seat, continues Vallone legacy


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The 40-year Vallone legacy will live on in City Hall.

Paul Vallone, 46, will carry his family’s name in the City Council for the next four years after winning election Tuesday to lead District 19 in northeast Queens.

Vallone beat Republican Dennis Saffran with 57.2 percent of the vote, as of midnight with all precincts reporting, according to preliminary results.

“[This] was a five-year journey that finished today,” Vallone said. “The good guys did it today.”

The two were vying to replace scandal-scarred incumbent Dan Halloran, who chose not to seek re-election after his April arrest on bribery charges.

“They attacked. They lied. They lost,” Vallone said of his opponent’s campaign. “Those who lie don’t get a seat in this community anymore.”

Vallone emerged in September as the winner of a crowded Democratic primary race that came down to the wire.

He beat runner-up candidate Austin Shafran by nearly 200 votes after voting machines were checked and paper ballots were counted.

One of Vallone’s primary foes, Paul Graziano, later crossed party lines to endorse Saffran.

Halloran, a Republican, did the same — but to cast his vote for Vallone, he announced on his Facebook page on Election Day.

“Voting today — for the first time in my life voting for a democratic city council candidate and candidate for public advocate,” Halloran wrote on his post, which was accompanied with a photo of Vallone’s campaign flyers.

He later congratulated Vallone with a Facebook post that said, “The Vallone family’s tradition of public service continues and I am sure Paul will work diligently for us.”

Vallone, a Flushing attorney, is the son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother to Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

Vallone Sr. represented Astoria from 1974 until 2002 when his oldest son succeeded him. Vallone Jr. is term-limited out of office this year.

“I think it’s very, very important that we have one good, moderate voice in the City Council that can bring both sides together, resulting in a safer city,” said Vallone Sr. “That’s the way I tried to start it in 1974, and we have to do that again. If anybody can do it, it’s Paul Vallone.”

Vallone Jr. shared the same sentiment, saying a “reasonable voice in City Hall is needed more than ever.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of my little brother,” Vallone Jr. said. 

This will be the first time in four decades a Vallone will represent northeast Queens instead of Astoria.

The district runs from College Point to Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston and Little Neck. 

The area’s elected officials, the Queens Democratic Party and civic leaders who endorsed him welcomed the change.   

“We’ve restored some sanity to the 19th District,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “The residents can now hold their heads high and be proud.”                                                   

Paul Vallone claims victory in contentious District 19 race


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Attorney Paul Vallone declared he came out on top in a contentious Democratic primary race to replace scandal-scarred Councilmember Dan Halloran.

Vallone defeated his four opponents by taking about 31 percent of the vote on September 10, according to unofficial results.

With nearly 99 percent of precincts reporting, Vallone won 2,723 votes, while runner-up candidate Austin Shafran received 2,579 votes, according to unofficial tallies.

“There’s so much that goes through your mind on a day like today,” said Vallone, 46. “You prepare all your life for this. Its times like this I want to start tearing up, but my wife said, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it.’ But you can’t help but to be inspired.”

Shafran, who trails by about 140 votes, said he was not conceding.

“Voting rights are sacred and we will use every legal remedy that’s available to ensure that the votes of every member of our community are fairly and fully counted,” he said.

The field that included Chrissy Voskerichian, Paul Graziano and John Duane was crowded long before the district’s Republican incumbent was arrested in April on corruption charges that rocked the district and stunned the city.

Only two candidates — Dennis Saffran, the race’s sole Republican candidate, and Voskerichian, who quit her job as Halloran’s chief of staff — threw their hats in the ring after the lawmaker’s indictment.

The race grew contentious in the last few weeks of the campaign when three of the candidates were targeted in mailers paid for by Jobs for New York, a political action committee that endorsed Vallone.

Austin Finan, a spokesperson for Vallone’s campaign, said candidates, by law, have no control over outside spending. PACs can spend as much money as they want on behalf of candidates but cannot coordinate with them.

The fuming candidates still tied the attacks to Vallone, calling the hit pieces “one of the worst mudslinging campaigns” the district has ever seen.

They then each grilled Vallone publicly during a televised debate and called on him to denounce the smear campaign pieces.

Vallone, the Queens Democratic Party pick, was also slammed by his opponents in forums before that for being a registered lobbyist.

At his victory party in Bayside, he said his message about keeping a positive campaign never changed.

“It was never about being negative, and there are a lot of candidates that did that, but that’s their choice to do that,” Vallone said. “The people that came out today said, ‘Paul, we know you. You’re a man of honor, you’re a family man.'”

Halloran, one of only two Republican councilmembers in Queens, pleaded not guilty to bribing GOP officials to get Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith on the Republican mayoral ticket.

He said in May he would not seek re-election to focus clearing his name.

Vallone will face off with Saffran in the November general election.

Additional reporting by Liam La Guerre

Former City Council candidate Kevin Kim won’t run for office this year


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Former City Council candidate Kevin Kim announced he would not run for any office this year.

The Democrat had mulled a run in the 19th District to replace Republican incumbent Councilmember Dan Halloran, who is not seeking re-election while he fights federal corruption charges.

Kim lost a 2009 election to Halloran.

“After serious consideration, I have decided not to run for City Council this year,” Kim said in a statement. “Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the outpouring of support I received from so many people in the community.”

Political insiders said Kim, who grew up in Bay Terrace, was also eyeing a try for Borough President. But he shot down rumors to The Courier, saying that is not his intention.

“I will not be running for any office this year,” he said, “but will continue to be active in advocating for causes that are important to the community as a whole.”

 

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Flushing Democrat Paul Graziano officially starts District 19 campaign


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Paul Graziano

A Flushing urban planner officially joined District 19’s City Council race while another candidate bowed out.

Democrat Paul Graziano kicked off his campaign on March 25 at Bowne Park to unseat Republican incumbent Councilmember Dan Halloran.

“My campaign is very simple. Protect your neighborhood. Do no harm,” said Graziano, a lifelong North Flushing resident. “It’s hard for me to think about theoretical and esoteric problems when we’ve got problems at hand in the community.”

The 41-year-old community activist was surrounded by family, friends and dozens of civic leaders Sunday when he announced his plans to preserve the neighborhood from overdevelopment, protect city parkland and ensure a better education system citywide.

Graziano also called for a “reconstituted” Board of Education with more borough subdivisions. He said the move would allow local school districts to operate independently and give communities a voice in the city’s decision-making process.

“It’s really important to make sure that we have an agenda that focuses on the needs of this community as well as, really, things that are crossing the entire city in importance,” Graziano said. “When we’re in a situation where I think every neighborhood feels embattled by the kinds of things that are happening, we have to stand up and do something about it.”

The Council hopeful faces a Democratic primary with former Assemblymember John Duane, Austin Shafran — the former vice president of public affairs for Empire State Development under Governor Andrew Cuomo — and attorney Paul Vallone, who is the son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

Democratic State Committeeman Matthew Silverstein dropped out of the race Sunday, citing “one of the most difficult years” of his life after his mother passed away last December.

“My mom was an amazing woman who wanted me to continue fighting for the issues I care about. However, after consulting with my friends and family, I have decided to suspend my campaign,” Silverstein said. “This campaign might be ending, but I am not going away. I will continue to advocate for the issues that are important to me.”

Silverstein had long set his sights on the seat, registering his campaign committee last May.

The Democratic primary winner will square off in November with Halloran, who was elected to the Council in 2009.

 

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City Council candidate Austin Shafran gains second union endorsement


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Austin Shafran has gained the endorsement of UFCW Local 1500 in his bid for City Council.

“This is a high-priority council race for our members, and we know that Austin is the candidate who will fight the hardest to strengthen and expand the middle class,” said Bruce Both, president of the state’s grocery workers union.

Shafran, the 32-year-old former mainstay in the Cuomo administration, is in a four-way Democratic primary race to unseat incumbent Republican Dan Halloran in the 19th District. He was the vice president of public affairs for the governor’s Empire State Development until he resigned to run for office.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to have the endorsement of a union whose members and leader have done so much for working families,” Shafran said. “Retail is one of the fastest-growing sectors of our local economy, and I plan to work closely with Local 1500 to improve the quality and quantity of retail jobs that are the backbone of a strong middle-class-first economy.”

Shafran also recently gained the support of the Teamsters Joint Council 16.

He will take on Democratic State Committee Chair Matthew Silverstein, former Assemblymember John Duane and attorney Paul Vallone — the son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

The district extends from College Point to the borders of Nassau County.

 

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