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Crowley lays out platform

TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) touted her life experience as to why she is the best candidate for the new Queens congressional seat in a sitdown with the TimesLedger Newspapers last week.

Crowley was the 14th out of 15 children in a close-knit western Queens family, worked as a restorative art painter and was the first women elected to her western Queens Council district.

A main reason the councilwoman decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives is to balance the gender ratio in Washington, D.C.

“We don’t have enough representatives in Congress that can advocate to protect women’s health, whether it be reproductive rights or just basic access,” Crowley said.

The president’s Affordable Care Act and how it covers contraceptives has been the source of a recent flap involving Congress, the White House and religious institutions, and the single mother of two said she would like to have a say on the national level.

Crowley joined the Council in a 2008 special election, where she was the first Democrat and first woman elected in the district, which covers the neighborhoods of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood and Woodhaven.

She was re-elected in 2009 over Republican Thomas Ognibene and subsequently became chairwoman of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services. She also serves on the Committees on Cultural Affairs, Environmental Protection, Housing and Buildings, Parks and Recreation, Rules, Privileges and Elections and State and Federal Legislation.

Crowley is currently involved in a four-way Democratic primary against state Assembly members Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and Grace Meng (D-Flushing) as well as Bayside allergist Dr. Robert Mittman.

After June 26, the winner will go on to face Republican City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou in a general election.

Crowley has also made protecting Social Security a pillar of her campaign, invoking the story of her father’s death and her single mother subsequently raising 15 children with the help of the government subsidy.

The cost of the entitlement program, along with Medicare and Medicaid, has ballooned to 36 percent of the federal budget, a growth that is unsustainable, according to a government report. That report, issued by the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare, predicted dire consequences as the large baby boomer generation enters retirement and stipulated that legislative intervention is required to keep entitlements afloat.

But the woes of the tanking system could be solved, according to the councilwoman, by creating jobs so more people pay into the programs.

“When you have more people working, you’ll naturally have more money going into Social Security,” Crowley said.

Crowley said the public transportation budget, which is under fire from Republicans in the House, could be a boon for New York if cities, where 80 percent of Americans live, can claim their fair share of funds instead of letting them go toward road projects in the middle of the country.

“My plan is that all urban areas come together in a caucus and follow those dollars back to where our taxes are coming from,” she said.

She also suggested money for job creating measures could come from winding down the war in Afghanistan.

Crowley supports President Barack Obama’s plan to bring the troops home and said America should be focusing on homeland security instead of policing countries across the globe.

In New York City, Crowley is a staunch supporter of the NYPD, and said the recent outcry over Commissioner Ray Kelly’s Stop, Question and Frisk policy is at odds with the city’s safety.

“I think a lot of what our Police Department is doing today has to do with defensive policing,” she said, criticizing the mayor and Kelly for the dwindling number of officers on the force.

Crowley said she would have voted against a bill brought to the House floor last week that would take federal funding away from police departments around the country that have been deemed to engage in racial profiling, a measure her cousin, Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), voted in favor of. The measure was proposed by Rep Rush Holt (D-N.Y.), who singled out the NYPD on the floor.

Crowley’s cousin is also chairman of the Democratic Organization of Queens County, which endorsed Meng in the race for the Queens seat instead of his cousin.

Crowley said the relationship between the two has not soured since she made her bid for the seat official, and that despite her party going with a rival candidate, she feels she has the strongest name recognition and chance of winning.

After Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) announced in March he would retire at the end of his term, a scramble for the open seat began.

Crowley said she has been concentrating on getting out the vote in the areas of her Council district that overlap with the congressional seat.

“If you want to win an election, you have to pay attention to numbers,” she said. “The best way is to excite a base, especially in a June primary.”

Crowley did not challenge any of the petitions her competitors collected to get on the ballot, and said she has been largely removed from the ethnic politics that have played a role in the race after Lancman charged that another candidate named Jeff Gottlieb, who bowed out of the race, was a plant designed to siphon Jewish votes away from the assemblyman.

“I think my opponents have been distracted by that,” Crowley said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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