Flushing attorney Paul Vallone said he is focusing his City Council bid for Dan Halloran’s seat on improving northeast Queens’ quality of life, which encompasses everything from safety and education to assisting small businesses.
Vallone, who is the brother of Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., D-Astoria, said he has been eyeing Halloran’s seat for the past four years following his 2009 bid for the position.
“We never really stopped,” he said. “2013, for me, was always on the radar. And we are really excited about the prospects of this campaign. People know me and my family. There’s a lot identification with what we’re trying to do with the campaign. It’s rare when I get to someone’s door and they say, ‘Who are you?’”
Vallone will face off in the Democratic primary in September against long-time community activist Paul Graziano, former state Assemblyman John Duane, former Halloran chief of staff Chrissy Voskerichian and Austin Shafran, formerly of Empire State Development.
Vallone said his top priority as city councilman would be to focus on quality of life issues and he considers the three most important to be public safety, education and aiding small businesses.
The Clinton Democratic Club president said he would especially focus on safety issues after recently having found out that part of the district in Flushing that he would be covering has become number one in the city for home invasions.
“To me, if you don’t have public safety, you won’t be talking about the quality of schools or saving small businesses,” Vallone said. “All you’ll be talking about is why we’re not safe. It transcends other issues in the district.”
Vallone said he would fight to ensure that both northeast Queens police precincts are fully staffed and he would not support legislation for an NYPD inspector general or halting the city’s stop and frisk tactics.
He said assistance for small businesses was another top issue in his Council bid.
“They are screaming for a little relief,” he said. “Why don’t small businesses, which are the backbone of the community, get a warning first before getting a violation? A lot of businesses don’t know there is a code they are violating. Starting off with a $5,000 violation is a big hit for someone fighting to keeping their doors open.”
Vallone said he would also attempt to strengthen local community education councils and get parents more involved to ensure that northeast Queens schools remain among the city’s best.
“Even though they are inundated with students, our schools are still number one,” he said. “But if there is an issue in school, parents don’t know where to turn. We need to give our parents a say on how their children are being educated. Mayoral control created a barrier between education and the administration and teachers are forced to look at test results rather than focus on the quality of education.”
But Vallone said there are numerous other quality of life issues that are important to the residents of Bayside, Douglaston, Flushing, Whitestone and Little Neck.
“This area is one of the most highly taxed and overburdened areas of the city,” he said. “We pay the highest, but we do not receive the highest allocations for our police precincts, schools or parks. We need to get the resources we deserve. I feel that frustration when I speak to residents.”
Vallone said he also wants to restore integrity and honesty back into politics.
Halloran announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection after being arrested for allegedly attempting to rig the mayoral election by getting state Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, on the Republican ballot.
“People are fed up with corrupt politicians and the lack of trust with elected officials,” Vallone said. “You can’t just say to them, ‘trust me.’ You have to earn it.”