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Oakland Gardens businessman and lawyer John Messer is challenging incumbent state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) for the second time after the two faced off in 2010, and he is hoping to bring what he calls common-sense Democratic positions to strike a balance in Albany.
“We’re losing so much revenue because people who own businesses are leaving the state,” he said in an interview at the TimesLedger Newspapers’ offices, where he discussed some of his legislative priorities.
The husband and father of three often laments that New York leads the country in people ages 25 to 30 who move from the state and do so because of the cost of living and doing business.
Messer wants to see fines and fees slashed for small businesses, and for larger businesses he would like to institute tax credits, like jump-starting manufacturing operations in the state by offering energy rate discounts.
The Democrat would like to entice technology companies to the city and state by offering long-term tax incentives. Though the government would not be collecting as much tax revenue, he contends that it would benefit New York in the long run.
“We didn’t have that industry before,” he said. “We’ve got to have targeted incentives to increase the tax base.”
Hydraulic fracturing is a hot topic in Albany, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo expected soon to release his plan on whether or not to allow it in a few upstate counties to tap petroleum reserves. Messer is a proponent of a process called liquefied petroleum gas fracking, which proponents tout as circumventing many environmental concerns associated with hydrofracking, but skeptics contend that environmental impacts of the process need to be studied more.
Messer supports casino gaming in the city, as long as it is not located in residential areas, and is in favor of giving parents more education options through charter schools, he said. He also supports term limits.
He considers himself an independent Democrat and has toyed with the idea of aligning himself with the Independent Democratic Conference, which now consists of four upstate senators who claim to fight hyper-partisanship in Albany and propose common-sense solutions.
As evidence that he leans farther right than many Democrats from Queens, Messer has said the district does not support same-sex marriage and that he would have opposed it if he were in office.
Messer contended that the current race is not a grudge match between him and Stavisky but instead is being fought on the issues. But he also discussed the seat as not only an opportunity to represent the district in Albany, but also to take down a political family that he said has been in power for 46 years, referring to Stavisky and her husband, who represented the district before her.
Messer ran against Stavisky in 2010 along with Lotto millionaire Isaac Sasson. Messer finished third.
Stavisky’s camp has blasted Messer for his past as a registered Republican and for his ties to former Republican City Councilman Dennis Gallagher, who was convicted of sexual assault. Stavisky herself has said that Messer “deals with criminals,” referring to the consulting firm hired by Messer and associated with Gallagher.
But Messer dismissed the barbs as “distracting techniques” on the part of her campaign.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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