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For Bayside native Austin Shafran, hands-on governmental experience has been the driving factor in his decision to run for City Council.
After serving various roles in the offices of former U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman, state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Shafran said he was ready to launch himself into public office with what he called a middle class-first agenda.
Shafran added his name to a crowded list of Democratic candidates looking to unseat Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) in November and quit his job in the Cuomo administration in January to campaign full-time for the spot.
His name will be on the ballot for the first time in a September primary against several other Democrats who have begun campaigning for the seat, including Democratic state committeeman Matthew Silverstein, former Assemblyman John Duane, attorney Paul Vallone and Flushing activist and urban planning consultant Paul Graziano.
“This district needs a strong advocate with the right experience to deliver the right resources,” Shafran said of the redrawn 19th Council District, which includes Little Neck, Bayside, Douglaston, North Flushing, Whitestone, Auburndale and College Point. “It’s a full-time calling and not a part-time profession. My experience on all levels of government shows I have a clear record of results.”
Throughout his career, Shafran said he worked to ensure constituent services were effective in northeast Queens communities for seniors, the disabled, immigrants and beyond. While working for David Weprin when he served in the Council, Shafran said he promoted the expansion of senior services and programs to bolster small businesses while still preserving the character and quality of the neighborhoods they served.
In a sitdown with TimesLedger Newspapers, Shafran said he would focus much of his campaign on advocating for seniors, immigrants and city students.
If elected, Shafran said he would prioritize education, seniors, job growth and transportation as key budgetary items in northeast Queens.
In the classroom, Shafran said parents deserved more input on how the city plans to improve the quality of education throughout the borough. Though the district he is running in includes two of the city’s highest scoring school districts, in Districts 25 and 26, the Bayside native said overcrowding paired with a lack of adequate resources has put a handicap on the learning process.
On the same topic of providing resources that northeast Queens may have been lacking, Shafran said he would work to bring more transportation options such as bus services to the community to spur economic growth to those most vulnerable, including seniors.
“We need to provide more services to allow our seniors to age with safety and care,” Shafran said.
So far, Shafran has collected endorsements from several labor groups, including the Teamsters Joint Council 16 and UFCW Local 1500, one of the state’s largest grocery workers union.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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