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When the city announced a special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of City Councilman Thomas White, Harpreet Singh Toor decided to enter the race because he said members in City Hall had lost their connection to their constituents.
The Sikh immigrant, who has lived in Ozone Park for decades, said the 28th Council District has been in dire need of help in many sectors, including crime, education and the economy, and if elected he will use all of his resources to solve the problems.
“The needs of the people are not being met. They get elected and once they are elected they forget what they were elected for. I’m here to shake the tree,” the 55-year-old businessman said.
Toor, who works as a real estate salesman, said he has been going door-to-door in the district, which includes the neighborhoods of Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park, and drew up his issues based on their conversations.
He said the biggest problem affecting the neighborhood is the lack of jobs. The massive closures of small businesses in the area coupled with the rise in foreclosures has led to many families living on a limited budget, according to Toor.
The candidate said he would use his influence in City Hall to give southeast Queens job seekers access to jobs for major projects, such as the Aqueduct racino.
“As a councilman, I don’t know what [jobs] we can have. I will try to get the maximum number of jobs to the people,” he said.
Toor said the city’s public schools needed to be reformed because education was the key to solving the problems in the city. The widowed father of two sons who attended public schools said parents deserved the chance to be more involved in the educational system.
“You just cannot legislate the law and expect the parents to understand it and the kids to learn it,” he said.
The candidate, who helped campaign for elected Democratic officials including state Sen. Malcolm Smith (St. Albans), Gregory Meeks (Jamaica) and former President Bill Clinton, also called for a similar transparency in the Council.
Toor said there are too many backdoor deals that go on when Council members vote on legislation and, as a result, promises elected officials make during their runs for office are not fulfilled. He said he would keep all of his dealings public for his constituents to see and look into legislation that would give elected leaders more accountability.
“I will find out what the rules and regulations are and adhere to those rules and regulations,” he said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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