Lots of people complain about city government. Jon Torodash of Kew Gardens is looking into doing something about it.
The 31-year-old software designer is in what he calls “the exploratory stage” of an independent run against Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) in the 29th District.
The straw that broke the camel’s back actually was a 22-ton block of marble. Torodash was prominent in his opposition to the city’s relocation of the “The Triumph of Civic Virtue” statue from Kew Gardens to Brooklyn in December after more than 70 years, and over the objection of Queens residents.
“That catalyzed me to take action,” Torodash said. “I’ve become utterly fed up with the inactivity or in some cases the deliberate antagonism of elected officials to issues that matter to residents.”
On his campaign website, jontorodash2013.com, and in a telephone interview on Tuesday, Torodash broke down his priorities on a citywide, borough and district basis.
The overriding city issue, he said, is education, where the Forest Hills native is a staunch opponent of mayoral control under the Bloomberg administration. He accused the mayor of mismanagement, and would like more input going to parents and teachers.
He believes that Bloomberg and the Department of Education place too much emphasis on standardized test scores that have no bearing on future student performance.
Torodash believes crime spikes in Southeast Queens and overdevelopment as a whole are the overriding boroughwide issues that must be addressed.
He would like to see developers compensate property owners whose market values are driven down by developments.
Torodash has not contemplated which committees he would like to serve on, but said is suspicious of one committee on which Koslowitz serves — the Committee on Economic Development and its meshing of city government and private development.
“I think that would tend to breed conflict of interest,” he said.
He said improving mass transit performance should be a priority in the district.
On crime he considers stop and frisk to be a valuable tool for the NYPD, but would like to see it used more judiciously and more in line with police CompStat data.
And he opposes an application by the city and the United States Tennis Association to add more than half an acre of city land a Flushing Meadows Corona Park to the more than 40 that now make up the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“I don’t endorse Queens giving away parkland,” he said. “It’s a valuable public resource.”
Getting on the ballot in November will require signature petitions, and, if successful, an inevitable court challenge of his signatures from the Queens Democratic Party.
It is Koslowitz’s long ties with the party, including a succession of politically connected appointments before entering elective office, that may have caused her to lose touch with voters, according to Torodash
“I was born in Forest Hills, and I know these neighborhoods,” Torodash said. “What I want people to know about me is that I want to listen to them and to know about them.”