What is your vision for Astoria?
Astoria is an amazing place. My role as council member is to make the government work for every member of Astoria. I’m focusing on improving schools and moving trailers that have been in schoolyards for almost 15 years. I’m also focusing on improving the environment, and introducing legislation to study environmental air pollution and quality. I also want to keep the streets clean. We’ve set up a DOE fund to sweep up thoroughfares. We have men and women from the DOE sweeping 7 days a week on Broadway, 30, and 21st street to ensure businesses and residents have a clean community.
What are you currently working on?
My current top priority for May is keeping Astoria clean. I’ve partnered with the councilwoman and senator to start a public awareness campaign. This campaign includes everything from making sure no one is dumping in corner cans, cleaning up the streets, keeping the local parks clean, and removing graffiti.
A lot of constituents have brought up the fact that the elevated train platforms aren’t handicap accessible, is this being addressed?
I absolutely agree with them. We have taken this matter seriously, and are working with the MTA for a resolution at some point. All current elected officials are working on the matter, and it’s going to be a longer project that we’re focusing on.
What are your thoughts on the Health Inspection Department, and the fact that a lot of local businesses aren’t happy with their grades and inspections?
Our council is in the process of revising the current regulations for the Health Inspection Department. We wholeheartedly agree with the restaurants. Under the Bloomberg administration a lot of tickets that were issued should not have been given out – they were just revenue generating grievances, issued to raise money for the Health Inspection Department. They didn’t give restaurants a chance to rectify the situation, and did not give any first warning. They were vindictive and went after small businesses. Mayor DeBlasio has done a lot of revising to how his health agency works, and the city council is in the process of helping to change the laws, such as providing restaurants a first warning on non-food related issues. Our goal is to keep food production safe, not penalize restaurants and raise revenue.
What has been your biggest challenge as councilman?
I don’t see anything a as a challenge – just as an opportunity. Train delays have been an ongoing problems, as is the noise pollution by the trains at PS 85. We are aiming to reduce the noise from the tracks to create an environment more conducive to learning. We’re also working on a ferry to Hallet’s Point, which I am a huge advocate of. This is a long term project, but it will serve to move people from Manhattan to Astoria.
What do you think about the Citibike program expanding to Astoria?
I’m a big proponent of the Citibikes. They are going t help tourism, and help connect tourists from Manhattan to the amazing institutions we have in Astoria, like the Socrates Sculpture Park and the Museum of the Moving Image.
What’s your favorite thing about Astoria?
My absolute favorite thing is the community. We’ve grown and are currently the “it” location to be, and are seeing so many new residents moving in, but we’ve never lost our community feel. Astoria still feels like home.There’s people from so many different walks of life, and they all exist in harmony – and that’s what makes us great. It’s a very humbling experience to have grown up here, and now being able to raise my family here and be councilman.
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