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City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) is running for borough president on his record of public safety experience and small business know-how.
The term-limited lawmaker, who is in a Democratic primary with former state Assemblywoman Melinda Katz and longshot candidate Everly Brown, recently sat down with TimesLedger Newspapers to discuss his campaign.
“My proudest accomplishment has been helping bring crime down 35 percent across the city,” Vallone said, also pointing to his tough stance against graffiti and his fight to shut down an Astoria power plant as feathers in his legislative cap.
Vallone, who ran his family law firm for 10 years, said one of his first initiatives would be to set up a task force to help small businesses navigate what he calls a web of red tape, bureaucracy, fines and fees.
“I’ve been out there fighting against overregulation of our small businesses,” he said, mentioning the case of a Whitestone café owner who was fined $500 for rotating a countertop coffee maker 180 degrees between visits from inspectors.
The borough president has an advisory role in land use applications, and Vallone said he came out early against a proposed soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. He does not currently plan to vote in favor of the Willets Point redevelopment, due to the recent inclusion of a 1.4 million-square-foot mall, when it is set to come up for a vote in the Council this fall.
The father of two said he ideally would like to see Long Island Rail Road service return to a long-abandoned stretch of track called the Rockaway Line that runs through central Queens, but if not feasible would support turning the old rail corridor into a linear park.
The former prosecutor and chairman of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety, cited his history of speaking out against higher governmental powers as the reason why he would be a good advocate as borough president.
“It’s an example of someone who isn’t afraid to stand up to the mayor, stand up to the speaker and speak for the people of Queens,” he said.
Vallone has been a harsh critic of the Council’s passage of bills that will create an inspector general for the NYPD and make it easier for residents to sue the department if they think a policing tactic has been used to racially profile them.
“Crime is going to shoot up,” he said, warning that state judges will have the ability to forbid certain policing practices should they go through the courts.
On education, Vallone supports charter schools and, in theory, mayoral control, although he believes it has not played out well under the Bloomberg administration.
An increasing concern throughout many portions of the borough is the airplane noise from aircraft taking off and landing at LaGuardia Airport. Vallone would like to push for getting bigger planes with the quieter engine technology onto the tarmac in order to help curb the racket.
Vallone said he would use his capital allocations to fund schools, parks and health care improvements in the borough and would not necessarily make a carbon copy of Borough President Helen Marshall’s allocations.
He would also exercise one of the borough president’s powers that Marshall has rarely taken advantage of: introducing legislation into the Council.
Vallone cited his partnership with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz in reintroducing a bill to create a registry of gun offenders in the five boroughs.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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