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Dixon hopes ethics land him win in 21st CD race

A Queens native from the north of the 21st City Council District hopes his campaign ethics will carry him to victory in Tuesday’s special election to replace newly minted state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D−East Elmhurst).

“I want to win and be able to keep my head up,” said Democratic District Leader George Dixon, who said shopkeepers tell him that crews from other campaigns have been tearing his posters down from store windows. Dixon said he tells his volunteers to leave his opponents’ ads alone.

“The type of campaign you run also tells how you govern,” he said.

Dixon, 59, has lived in East Elmhurst for 30 years. But his birth in the borough was an accident. His parents were South Carolina sharecroppers who were paying a visit to family when his mother went into labor.

The family returned to South Carolina, but when Dixon was in the third grade the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross on his father’s lawn.

“My father made a decision that he did not want to raise a child there,” Dixon said.

The family moved to Brooklyn, where Dixon grew up. He joined the Air Force out of high school, training as an engineer and avionics expert. After serving in Vietnam, he lived in various countries for many years. In 1976, he accepted a job from Hughes Aircraft, which took him to southern California, but that job only lasted until Dixon experienced his first California earthquake.

“I had experienced one in the Philippines, and it scared the bejesus out of me,” he said.

Dixon moved back to New York in 1978, choosing the black enclave of East Elmhurst as his new home. He formed his own consulting and graphic arts company in 1984, which he has run since then.

As he got used to the neighborhood, Dixon became involved in Community Board 3 and the local Kiwanis chapter. He also volunteered at city high schools, giving photography lessons.

He first attempted to run for public office in 2001, when Monserrate was making his first bid for the Council seat, but said an illness in the family took him out of the running.

“There was a lot of energy in the community about Hiram and what direction he was taking the community in,” he said. “At that time, I was not ready. I had the desire, but I needed a lot more.”

He was elected a state committeeman in 2004 and a district leader in 2006. But he said his research about the community began in 1992, when he started traveling to the countries of people who lived in the area, including numerous South American nations, China and Russia.

“It’s really made me a better person,” he said. “It opens your eyes to why a person reacts to you in a certain way.”

Now he hopes to win the Council seat with endorsements from Borough President Helen Marshall and state Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D−Corona) and a call to control development and ensure construction jobs go to local residents.

“There are young men standing on the corners here in East Elmhurst that need work,” he said.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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