Tag Archives: Melinda Katz

Bill would limit when registered lobbyists could run for office


| mchan@queenscourier.com

State Senator Tony Avella, taking a shot at two newly elected officials, introduced a bill that would limit when registered lobbyists could run for office.

Legislation the lawmaker announced last week would prohibit former registered lobbyists from running for city or state office for two years from the time they leave their firms.

Elected lobbyists could have a “distinct and unequal advantage” when it comes to influence, access and money, Avella said.

“It’s no question we have to reduce the amount of influence lobbyists have,” he said. “The less influence, the better.”

Queens Borough President-elect Melinda Katz and Councilmember-elect Paul Vallone are registered as New York City lobbyists — a fact Avella said was not lost on him when he was running against Katz for borough president.

Avella also supported Vallone’s primary opponent, Paul Graziano.

The senator said he spoke to widely known good government groups on the bill, though he did not specify which organizations supported it.

“I thought the bill was appropriate. I think that it’s something we should do in the future,” Avella said. “If elected officials and their staff are prohibited from working as registered lobbyists for a period of time after their term or employment has ended, why isn’t the reverse true?”

The bill, which Avella says is the first of its kind, was referred to the Senate’s Rules Committee on July 1. If passed, it would take effect immediately.

 

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Melinda Katz wins election to become next Queens borough president


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Former legislator Melinda Katz will be the next Queens borough president.

“We sent a message from the moment I announced my candidacy that we are a borough of diversity, and that is an asset,” Katz said. “It is not a flaw in the borough of Queens and the City of New York.”

The Democrat and heavy favorite in the race trounced her two challengers Tuesday with 80.3 percent, according to unofficial results, as 96 percent of precincts were reporting.

Republican Tony Arcabascio netted 17.1 percent and third-party candidate Everly Brown, who came in last in the Democratic primary, took in 2.6 percent on the Jobs & Education line, early tallies showed.

The seat was held by Helen Marshall since 2001. The longtime incumbent and borough’s first black president is term-limited this year.

She endorsed Katz, who served in the Assembly and City Council and was the director of community boards for former Borough President Claire Schulman.

Katz will be the 19th Queens borough president.

“Every borough president has their own way about them,” Katz said. “I’m excited about the future. Helen Marshall has served this borough for over 30 years as a public official, 20 years before that as a civil rights advocate and an educator. I will continue her work, but I also have my own priorities and I look forward to working for those.”

As results trickled in on election night, the Forest Hills mom of two was surrounded by supporters at her victory party held at the Queens Democratic Party’s headquarters on Austin Street.

“We have had a whole gamut of support,” she said, attributing her victory in major part to the County organization. “I am extremely excited to be the next borough president. I’m glad the people of Queens put faith into my candidacy, and I will be very grateful to them.”

The strong finish was anticipated this time, unlike the grueling September primary election Katz faced against Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

In the contentious race, Katz ended up beating the longtime Astoria lawmaker by about 13,000 votes, according to official Board of Elections results.

Katz said her Borough Hall plans include making the Rockaway ferry permanent and creating a hotline for storm victims to get up-to-date information on the rebuilding process.

She also said she will push for more primary and urgent care facilities, expand tax incentives for new or expanding businesses that hire locally and fund the growth of 1,000 more trees.

Katz said it her job to “make sure that we not only get equal assets here in Queens, but we bring more money back to the borough of Queens because that is what we deserve here.”

With additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

City Council incumbents Weprin, Crowley miss DC 37 union endorsement


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

Two City Council incumbents from Queens were not endorsed by the city’s largest public employee union because they did not apply for the nod, the union said.

DC 37 released its endorsements for the November general election last Wednesday, which included multiple sitting councilmembers in the borough and candidates who won primaries in September.

Left off the Queens list were Speaker-hopeful Mark Weprin and Elizabeth Crowley — both who are Democrats, facing fairly easy challenges for re-election in a blue-dominated borough.

The pair joins a handful of city incumbents who were not endorsed because they did not apply to be part of DC 37’s long-established screening process, according to Wanda Williams, the union’s political and legislative director.

The list includes City Council incumbents Dan Garodnick, Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Annabel Palma, Brad Lander and David Greenfield.

“The lack of an endorsement should not be construed as a commentary on their performance but as a reflection of their decision not to submit themselves to our rigorous screening process,” Williams said.

“Only the kind of transparent and rigorous screening process we have adopted assures we give all candidates a fair hearing they have initiated,” she added.

Weprin said he was unaware of the union’s screening policy. He was also running unopposed until August.

“We didn’t really reach out since I didn’t have an opponent until the summer,” he said. “This year, I certainly would have loved their endorsement. They are certainly a valuable and important union to me. I don’t take offense at it. I just wasn’t aware of the process. No hard feelings.”

Crowley did not comment.

Contested Queens incumbents who enjoy the union’s backing this year include Peter Koo, Karen Koslowitz, Eric Ulrich, Ruben Wills and Donovan Richards.

DC 37 also endorsed unchallenged incumbents Julissa Ferreras, Danny Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer and primary winners Paul Vallone, Rory Lancman, Daneek Miller and Melinda Katz.

The municipal workers’ union, which has 121,000 members and 50,000 retirees, said it sends out an army of volunteers to work phone banks and do door-to-door “Get Out The Vote” operations.

 

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Republican BP candidate Arcabascio outlines plans if elected


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Aurelio “Tony” Arcabascio, Republican candidate for Borough President, said he has been painted as a Republican “one percenter” throughout his campaign.

“I drive a Honda, my parents are immigrants. Who is this one percent you’re talking about,” he asked.

Arcabascio, a project manager for North Shore-LIJ Health System, will face off against Melinda Katz on Tuesday, November 5.

Over the months leading up to the general election, Arcabascio has been going to community board meetings, civic meetings and more.

“You have to talk to people. You have to let them know who you are and that you’re not just a name on the ballot,” he said.

Although he does not have political experience, he said his small business background, healthcare work, management experience and knowledge of his would-be constituents create a recipe for success.

Arcabascio talked to The Courier about many current, pressing issues in the borough. Regarding education, he said he is against co-locations, not a fan of charter schools and an advocate for building new schools.

School and neighborhood safety were also a concern. Arcabascio mentioned P.S. 232 in Lindenwood, and said speed bumps need to be put in around the school’s busy area.

“What you need is somebody to say, ‘I want a speed bump there before something happens, because when something happens, I’m holding you responsible,’” he said.

He also hopes to revamp health care in the borough, and believes his experience at North Shore-LIJ will help him do so. For his staff, if elected, he would hope to appoint a Democrat as his Deputy Borough President.

For small businesses, he hopes to provide incentives for them to survive the fated first year, such as using Borough Hall to expedite city permits and applications.

“If we don’t get businesses open, they don’t hire people, they don’t get sales, we don’t collect taxes,” he said. “It’s a vicious cycle. Our job is to make them survive.”

He is for a soccer stadium in the borough, but not in Flushing Meadows- Corona Park. He also pledged to “work four years” to eliminate the toll going into the Rockaways.

“We need a change in this office,” he said. “Unfortunately, when you look at it, it’s been 20 years of malaise in Queens.”

 

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Parents, pols fight Queens co-locations


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Leroy Comrie

Parents and pols aren’t ready for their schools to squeeze into one building.

Twenty-three co-locations have been proposed within the next four years for schools in Queens, 10 of those in the southeast community.

The Department of Education (DOE) is proposing Q297 join J.H.S 226; and P.S. 233, New Transfer High School join August Martin High School and later add a Success Academy elementary charter school.

Parent Takia Moore said she chose J.H.S. 226 for her daughter because it stood alone without a high school, and was “under the impression that my child would be free from the peer pressure of older high school students,” she said.

“Once again, the administration has proposed a plan without taking into consideration the consequences it will have for Queens’ youth,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “The proposed co-locations will force these schools to share even more resources while the standards they are required to meet continue to rise.”

Proposals also exist to truncate P.S. 174 to a kindergarten through fifth grade school; join new middle school Q287 with J.H.S. 008 and York Early College Academy; and co-locate J.H.S. 72 and P.S. 993.

“Forcing more schools into a single building is not the solution,” said Councilmember Donovan Richards. “When more students are squeezed into fewer classrooms, some children get left behind.”

Success Academy Charter School additionally hopes to co-locate with I.S. 59 and P.S. 176, and there are plans to co-locate five magnet high schools in District 29.

“The Bloomberg Administration’s tone-deafness is on full display in Queens,” said Melinda Katz, Borough President candidate. “By starving, co-locating, and closing public schools in low-income neighborhoods just to cozy up to the charter school lobby, this administration is hurting our students and robbing our city of talent we will need in the next generation of workers and leaders.”

For more information on proposed co-locations within the borough, click here. Hearings will be held for all individual proposals. Dates can also be found on the DOE website.

“We need an immediate freeze on co-locations, until a new mayoral administration takes the reins and reevaluates the long-term effectiveness of the policy,” Katz said.

 

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Katz outlines plan to ‘Green Queens’ if elected borough president


| mchan@queenscourier.com

One thousand new trees would grow in Queens and government rooftops would be painted an energy-saving white should Melinda Katz win her bid to lead the borough.

The former legislator outlined her “Plan for a Green Queens” on Tuesday, September 3 with her newest supporter, the New York League of Conservation Voters.

“With a total absence of federal legislation on environmental issues, there is a real need for local leaders to step in and fill the vacuum,” Katz said.

The candidate said she would use her borough presidency to allocate more park space, make Queens government buildings more energy efficient and lead regular electronic waste drives.

“These are simple steps we can take locally that will improve our environment globally,” Katz said. “That’s the innovative approach our borough needs as we fight to create green jobs and expand the green-collar industry in Queens.”

She would also dedicate indoor and street recycling bins — a spin on a different initiative her Democratic opponent proposed last month.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who is facing off with Katz in a tight primary, said in August he would fund and install placards on trash cans given through the city’s volunteer “Adopt-A-Basket” program.

He also joined the White Roof Project in June to paint low-income and nonprofit roofs in Astoria with solar-reflective white coating.

 

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VIDEO: Vallone releases first campaign commercial in BP race


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Video via Vimeo

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who is in a tight race with Melinda Katz for Queens borough president, has released his first campaign commercial. He is also the first borough president candidate to come out with a television ad.

Peter F. Vallone Jr. for Queens Borough President from Roberts Horowitz Creative on Vimeo.

 

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Candidates come out to Rockaway Beach


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Benjamin Fang

BENJAMIN FANG

Political candidates recently spoke at the Friends of Rockaway Beach forum, where they affirmed their commitment to address the needs of the Rockaway community.

Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner headlined the forum for the district he once represented in Congress. Democratic mayoral candidates Comptroller John Liu, former Councilmember Sal Albanese and Republicans John Catsimatidis and Joe Lhota also made their cases to the voters.

Borough President candidates Melinda Katz and State Senator Tony Avella, Councilmember Eric Ulrich and his challengers Lew Simon and William Ruiz, and Public Advocate candidates Letitia James and Cathy Guerriero also addressed the packed room.

“We’re going to ask them to tell us their plans for our beaches, our boardwalk, our play areas,” said John Cori, co-president of Friends of Rockaway Beach and the organizer of the event. “We need to hold our elected officials accountable.”

The candidates talked about greater protection for the beach, improving transportation to and from Rockaway and giving the community a greater voice in City Hall.

Weiner, recently scandalized once more for “sexting,” slammed City Hall for creating “hipster-looking concessions” on the beach rather than restoring it. He also demanded extended ferry service, which is set to end by Labor Day.

“Rockaway might be this far away place to City Hall, but it won’t be if I’m mayor,” he said.
Katz then questioned the city’s readiness and response to Sandy, a topic the audience was hoping to discuss.

“Where are the double dunes that will protect the homes?” asked Katz. “Where’s the evacuation plan?”

She also talked about investing in the Rockaways and building it “better than it was.”
Avella blasted both Katz and Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., two leading candidates for Borough President, for their voting records while in the City Council.

Avella’s plan for the Rockaways includes giving the area a railroad line, getting rid of tolls and 24 hours of bus service.

Ulrich touted his record in the City Council and stressed how participatory budgeting gave way to success.

“In those four-and-a-half years, I’ve been able to secure, with your help, millions and millions of dollars in capital improvements and programming for senior centers, for schools, for libraries, to keep our firehouses open,” he said.

His challenger, Simon, gave an impassioned speech about the devastated community and the need to rebuild it.

“There’s no boardwalk. There are no benches. There’s nothing here!” said Simon. “I want to be chair of the Parks and Recreation committee. I want to make sure our boardwalk is built.”

Other candidates for mayor and public advocate also courted the Rockaway vote and spoke about focusing on the Rockaways if elected.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. High of 81. Winds from the South at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80% with rainfall amounts near 0.3 in. possible. Thursday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers in the evening, then partly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 68. Winds from the South at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the West after midnight. Chance of rain 80% with rainfall amounts near 0.5 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Metropolitan Opera at Socrates Sculpture Park 

Come to Socrates Sculpture Park for an evening of arias and duets by Metropolitan Opera artists Ying Fang (soprano), Mario Chang (tenor) and Brandon Cedel (bass-baritone), accompanied by pianist Bradley Moore. Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Police probe possible link between 2 Queens stabbings

Police in New York are looking at the possibility that there could be a maniac with a knife randomly stabbing women in Queens. Read more: ABC New York

Man who killed police officer convicted in separate attempted murder case 

A man convicted of murdering a police officer was convicted of attempted murder Wednesday in a separate incident. Read more: NY1

Borough President candidate Melinda Katz promises expanded health care for Queens

Call it Melindacare. Borough President candidate Melinda Katz is promising to open primary care facilities and urgent care centers to a greater number of Queens residents. Read more: New York Daily News

Guns from out-of-state make up the grand majority of city crimes, Bloomberg attempts to push back

Guns from states with weak firearms laws are being used at an ever-increasing rate in city crimes, Mayor Bloomberg said Wednesday, as he vowed to continue his push for tougher laws across the country. Read more: New York Daily News

Jury: Pataki’s program to institutionalize sex offenders didn’t violate rights

A jury decided Wednesday that former New York Gov. George Pataki did not violate sex offenders’ rights by authorizing a program to involuntarily commit them to mental institutions after they completed their sentences. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Salad mix may be to blame for multi-state stomach bug outbreak

A pre-packaged salad mix may be to blame for a stomach bug that has sickened people in 15 states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. High of 95. Winds from the SW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers, then a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 73. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Summer 2013 Juniper Valley Park Concert Series – Italian Night

NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and Juniper Park Civic Association presents the Summer 2013 Juniper Valley Park Concert Series.Playing tonight are Tony Valenti and Chris Macchio. Starts at 7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Teachers: African-American faculty was targeted for firing at Queens School

Teachers and activists protested at the New York City Department of Education Headquarters on Monday, amid claims that a principal at a Queens school used insensitive language toward African-American teachers as she fired them. Read more: CBS New York

NYPD, Brookhaven to release harmless gases in subway for chemical weapon study

The NYPD will release harmless gases into the subway system during the morning rush beginning Tuesday to study how chemical weapons could be dispersed through the air. Read more: NBC New York 

Queens borough president hopeful Melinda Katz nabs endorsement of Rep. Grace Meng

Rep. Grace Meng is backing Democrat Melinda Katz in her bid to become the next Queens borough president, the Daily News has learned. Read more: New York Daily News 

Two firefighters save five from sinking fishing boat 

Two city firefighters are being hailed as heroes for rescuing five people from a sinking boat in the waters off Queens. Read more: NY1

Restaurant owners hope inspection changes mean lower fines

Reform is on the menu for the controversial New York City restaurant inspection system. Read more: CBS New York

Women in Ohio kidnap case thank public for support 

Three women held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade issued a YouTube video Monday night in which they thanked the public for the encouragement and financial support that is allowing them to restart their lives. Read more: AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Overcast with rain, then thunderstorms and rain in the afternoon. High of 66. Breezy. Winds from the ESE at 10 to 20 mph shifting to the NE in the afternoon. Chance of rain 100% with rainfall amounts near 1.0 in. possible. Thursday night: Overcast with rain. Fog overnight. Low of 55. Windy. Winds from the NNE at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 35 mph. Chance of rain 100% with rainfall amounts near 2.1 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Summer carnival and petting zoo 

There will be a summer carnival and petting zoo at Roy Wilkins Park from June 13 to 23 featuring over 20 rides, 30 animals, games and food. Free admission. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Lawmakers approve changes to NYC’s Muni Meter system

The City Council on Wednesday voted in favor of a bill that will end unnecessary parking payments at Muni Meters. Read more: CBS New York

Queens Borough President hopeful Melinda Katz adds Working Families Party endorsement to Democratic Party nod

The Working Families Party has thrown its support behind Democrat Melinda Katz in her bid to become Queens’ next borough president. Read more: New York Daily News

Brooklyn Nets hire Jason Kidd as coach

The Brooklyn Nets hired Jason Kidd as their coach Wednesday, bringing the former star back to the franchise he led to its greatest NBA success. Read more: AP

Justice Dept. supports NYPD monitor

The U.S. Justice Department says it would strongly endorse a court-appointed monitor to oversee changes at the New York Police Department if a judge were to find its stop-and-frisk practices unconstitutional. Read more: AP

Restaurant owners protest NYC foam containers ban

A proposal to eliminate plastic foam takeout containers in New York City was met with criticism Wednesday by restaurateurs who said a ban on the ubiquitous containers would drive up costs and potentially put them out of business. Read more: NBC New York

Judge approves FDA plan to drop limits on morning after pill

A U.S. district court judge on Wednesday approved a U.S. Food and Drug Administration plan to allow unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step, a one-pill version of the emergency contraception drug. Read more: Reuters

Barry Grodenchik drops out of BP race after key endorsement goes to Katz


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Former assemblymember Barry Grodenchik has ended his borough president bid less than a day after being beat for a key county endorsement.

“The next borough president must focus like a laser on jobs, education, healthcare, economic development and Sandy recovery,” Grodenchik said. “I am proud to have brought those issues to the forefront of the debate. But at this time, I believe that it is in the best interest of my family, team and party to end my candidacy.”

Grodenchik, 53, served as deputy borough president from 2009 to earlier this year, when he stepped down in order to run for BP.

The Queens County Democratic Party endorsed his rival, Melinda Katz, on Monday.

Sources close to the race said the endorsement, coupled with Grodenchik’s exit, was meant to give Katz a much-needed boost over front-runner Peter Vallone Jr. The councilmember leads the race both in polls and in fundraising.

Sources said Grodenchik’s move could also give Katz a better chance of securing key votes from the Orthodox Jewish community, where Grodenchik had strong support.

Katz already has the endorsement of several southeast leaders including the Reverend Floyd Flake, senior pastor of the 23,000-member Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica.

Vallone, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee, has the support of law enforcement groups including the Detectives Endowment Association, the New York City Fire Marshals Benevolent Association and the NYPD Captains Endowment Association.

Councilmember Leroy Comrie and State Senator Tony Avella are rumored to be thinking of dropping out of the beep race. Neither campaign returned calls for comment.

Political insiders said the county’s leadership has been increasing efforts to hurt Vallone’s chances.

“It’s very obvious that this was an ‘ABV’ choice,” said a Queens political operative, meaning “Anybody But Vallone.”

The Queens County Democratic Party did not immediately comment.

Vallone, often seen as being too vocal, said the recent developments have not hurt his campaign.

“That’s fine,” he said. “As I’ve said from day one, it doesn’t matter. I never expected county support, and it doesn’t matter to me if there are two candidates or 10. I’m still going to be in this until the end, and I intend to win it.”

Queens Democratic endorsements: Party backs Katz for borough president, Quinn for mayor


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Melinda Katz: File photo; Christine Quinn; Photo William Alatriste

The Queens Democratic Party doled out its endorsements for this year’s elections Monday, giving key backings in multi-candidate primaries.

The party backed Council Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor, former deputy public advocate Reshma Saujani for public advocate; Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for comptroller and Melinda Katz for Borough President. Stringer’s son was born earlier that morning.

Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, who nearly won the mayor’s race in 2009, only received three votes in his favor. Upon Quinn’s formal nomination, she received a standing ovation. The candidate promised better conditions for the middle class in terms of jobs and education.

Katz served in the Assembly from 1994 to 1999. After that, she went on to oversee Queens’ 14 community boards under former Borough President Claire Shulman. Katz then served in the City Council for two terms, and lost the 2009 Democratic primary for comptroller.

She is running against Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and Peter Vallone Jr., State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik.

“It was not an easy choice,” said Congressmember Joseph Crowley, chair of the county party. “But we believe that Melinda has all the assets necessary to become the next borough president.”

Katz said she’s excited for the nearly four months of primary campaigning that still lie ahead.

“Over the last year, I have come into your districts,” she said. “We have spoken with constituents together. I’ve gotten to know the issues that surround this entire borough.”

Comrie was considered a likely pick for the nomination in the days leading up to the endorsement. But he has had trouble raising funds and was snubbed earlier this year in a key endorsement from the Reverend

Floyd Flake. Flake’s congregation is in Comrie’s council district, but the religious leader backed Katz.
Vallone, who has been leading in polls and in fund raising, said he was not disappointed by the party’s backing for Katz, adding he did not expect to get the endorsement. His brother Paul was endorsed for City

Council District 19, beating out Austin Shafran. Shafran has received a slew of endorsements since January, one of the biggest being from the AFL-CIO.

“The endorsement is not something I was expecting,” Vallone said. “And I’m just very happy they went with my brother Paul, because I’m going to need him in City Hall if, God willing, I’m borough president.”

In her endorsement for Saujani, Crowley cited Saujani’s advocacy for housing and work in the public advocate’s office under incumbent Bill de Blasio.

She is running in a four-way Democratic primary against State Senator Daniel Squadron, Cathy Guerriero and Tish James.

 

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Republican Arcabascio to run for Borough President


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

An Astoria technology professional is eyeing a Borough Hall run as a Republican, making the race for borough president a little tighter.

Aurelio “Tony” Arcabascio confirmed his candidacy and expects to receive county endorsement soon.

Arcabascio, who ran his own technology company for 13 years, made his debut in the political world last year when he ran an unsuccessful race against State Senator Michael Gianaris for District 12.

Now, looking to represent the whole borough, Arcabascio said he wants to bring his experience as the only non-elected official to the table.

“I haven’t been caught up in politics for my whole career,” he esaid.

A product of Jackson Heights, Arcabascio, 52, will face one of six Democrats vying for the spot: Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and Peter Vallone Jr., State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella, former Councilmember and former Assemblymember Melinda Katz and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik.

The Dems will face off in a September 10 primary.

Arcabascio, who nabbed the GOP endorsement for Senate last year, expects to pick it back up for borough president. Queens Republican chair Phil Ragusa said the candidate is going through the screening process for the endorsement, and a formal announcement should come soon.

With his background in technology, Arcabascio said he is open to bringing more of the industry’s jobs to the borough, especially in western areas such as Long Island City and Maspeth.

“We have a lot of empty factories in Queens,” he said. “One of the things I believe would be my responsibility as the number one cheerleader for Queens is to get businesses here.”

 

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Candidates focus on development at Borough President forum


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

DSC_0012

Questions regarding development at Willets Point, directed mainly at three of the six candidates, became a significant part of a recent forum for borough president.

Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. and Leroy Comrie, State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella, former Councilmember and Assemblymember Melinda Katz and former Deputy BP Barry Grodenchik took the stage at the Friday, April 12 meeting, co-hosted by the Queens Chamber of Commerce and St. John’s University.

Specific questions were directed at each candidate, with Comrie, Vallone and Peralta each addressing how, if elected, he would reshape the area known as the Iron Triangle.

Peralta harkened on making Queens a destination location – a policy of incumbent Helen Marshall. With the planned “Tech Campus” coming to Roosevelt Island, Peralta suggested pushing for a tech sector near Willets Point. But affordable housing and better infrastructure are the first step, he said.

Comrie, who chairs the Council’s Land Use Committee, said he’s open to re-exploring a convention center at Willets Point. He also mentioned a potential center at Aqueduct, where Governor Andrew Cuomo had originally proposed one.

“We really need a convention center for the borough,” Comrie said, adding better transportation options would need to be explored for south Queens if convention center talks resurged.

Vallone said Queens residents, in a recent poll, would like to see full-gaming in the borough at Resorts World Casino New York City.

The councilmember, however, is also open to a convention center or further retail shops at the site. But, he said, it would have to be the community’s call on what goes there.

There is about 4.5 million-square-feet of Willets Point the city plans on developing over the next few decades, once the projects on either side of Citi Field are completed.

The borough president’s role in Queens, better transportation and small business growth were also hot topics at the business-focused forum.

Traditionally, a Beep has been branded a “cheerleader” for Queens, but most felt it was more than that.

Grodenchik said he viewed the role as a leader and if elected, he wanted more to be “the quarterback of Queens.”

Katz, who chaired the Land Use Committee before Comrie, touted her record of working across the city and what it takes to be borough president.

“You should be able to create an economic vision for the borough of Queens,” she said. “I think it’s important to span that throughout the borough.”

State Senator Tony Avella said the borough president needed to also serve as a public advocate for the diverse neighborhoods, and the “mom and pop” small businesses who often get hit with city fines.

 

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