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Arcabascio challenges Gianaris for Senate seat

Aurelio Anthony Arcabascio (l.) is challenging Democratic state Sen. Michael Gianaris with the endorsement of the Republican Party. Photo (l.) courtesy Queens GOP
TimesLedger Newspapers

Candidates for the redrawn Astoria and Long Island City state Senate seat both agree on the issues facing the district but differ slightly in their approach.

Republican and Conservative candidate Tony Arcabascio, an employee of North Shore-LIJ and owner of telecommunications company Crimson Technologies for 13 years, is challenging Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, who was elected to the seat in 2010 after serving in the state Assembly for a decade.

Both candidates, who live in Astoria, cited improving job creation, access to health care and education as crucial parts of their campaigns.

“This is my opportunity,” said Arcabascio on why he wanted to run. “My kids are older now, I have the time to spend and I wanted to do something nice.”

The area the candidates are running for has changed with the 2012 redistricting process. The district will include Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Astoria, Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Glendale, Woodhaven and Ozone Park. Some sections of Astoria and Woodside once in the district will now be represented by Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), who is running unopposed.

Gianaris said the new district did not present a challenge as it is 90 percent the same.

“Western Queens is western Queens, so the neighborhoods have the same interests,” he said.

When it comes to solving the district’s problems, Arcabascio said he would like to spur job growth by creating an urban enterprise zone in Maspeth. Urban enterprise zones offer tax breaks and reduced government regulation for those willing to set up shop there.

Gianaris said he wanted to encourage job growth in Long Island City as the graduate technology school, the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, comes online at Roosevelt Island. He said since as the economy is still sluggish, the campus will bring opportunity to its neighbor.

When it comes to health care, Arcabascio said he would want to build a new hospital.

“Unfortunately, our whole district is really serviced by one small hospital,” Arcabascio said, referring to Mt. Sinai Queens Hospital in Astoria.

Concerned about Bryant and Long Island City high schools being marked for major restructuring by the city earlier this year, Arcabascio said he wanted to see reform for the schools.

“Thank God they kind of came out of it, but the problem is nobody had a plan,” he said.

Gianaris said he wants to increase both the hospital beds in the district and the number of schools to deal with issues of health care and education access.

In addition, Gianaris said he wanted to fight crime in the district by getting guns off the streets and being more vigilant in penalizing sexual predators. He also named caring for the environment and air quality as another concern of his campaign.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Gianaris said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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