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Duane seeks Assembly return

John Duane said he will draw from his Albany experiences but act as a “citizen legislator” if elected this fall as a replacement for state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside).

Duane, 57, a former assemblyman in the district from 1983-84, will face off against Edward Braunstein, who works as a legislative assistant for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan); Steve Behar, an attorney who ran last year in the race for then-City Councilman Tony Avella’s seat; and Elio Forcina, a Whitestone attorney, in September’s Democratic primary.

Vince Tabone, an attorney for John Catsimitidis’ Manhattan-based Red Apple Group, is the race’s sole Republican after former police officer Rob Speranza was kicked off the ballot.

Duane, whose brother is state Sen. Tom Duane (D-Manhattan), said he will prioritize improvements to district education and services for senior citizens as well as sponsor bills to aid war veterans and prevent consumer fraud in his bid for Carrozza’s seat.

“Our schools are overcrowded and the idea of charter schools is a non-starter,” he said. “We have the best school district in New York City. We need to improve them, not take away their space for charter schools.”

Duane said he believed senior citizens in northeast Queens were grossly neglected. During this summer’s heat wave, he said the closest cooling center for the elderly was in Rego Park. The Assembly district covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, College Point and Whitestone.

“This district has the second-highest number of seniors in Queens, but the least amount of senior centers,” he said.

During his previous Albany tenure, Duane was a prime sponsor of a bill to provide tuition assistance to Vietnam War veterans. If elected, he said he would propose a similar bill for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Duane, a Manhattan attorney who practices consumer class-action law with a focus on credit counseling fraud, said he would also introduce a bill that would improve laws to protect state residents from being defrauded.

“In the past seven years, I’ve represented 1.2 million consumers defrauded by companies that claim to be not-for-profits that can reduce debt,” he said. “I’ll sponsor legislation to protect consumers from this type of fraud.”

He also said he believes there needs to be more economic initiatives in the district, citing the number of shuttered businesses along Bayside’s Bell Boulevard.

“The vacant stores are multiplying,” he said. “The tax structure is regressive. Albany doesn’t do anything to help small businesses expand or prevent fraud. It taxes people out of business.”

But Duane said he believes the factor that will most help his Albany bid is the fact that he has lived in Little Neck for many years and raised his family in the community.

“We have a government that is comprised of career politicians,” he said. “I think the founding fathers thought of a country filled with citizen legislators. I don’t think legislators understand how the middle class is burdened by taxes and how difficult it is to raise children and pay for college. They have become disengaged with real life in their communities. They don’t understand how a four-month late budget impacts people.”

Carrozza announced earlier this year that she would not run for re-election.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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