Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth) said she will be in a unique position next session to combine her chairmanship of the Assembly’s Committee on Tourism, Arts, Parks and Sports Development with the need in Albany to foster job growth.
Markey, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1998, is running for re-election next month against Republican Tony Nunziato, whom she defeated in 2010.
Calling jobs the top priority should she get re-elected, Markey spoke of a recent tour of some Queens landmarks she took with Kenneth Adams, commissioner of the state’s Department of Economic Development and president of the Empire State Development Corporation.
“We toured the Steinway Mansion ... The house is so beautiful, and I would like to see it preserved and put to good use,” Markey said. “Tourism can create a number of jobs. In my district, we have a lot of nice hotels and restaurants. In broader Queens we have some fine attractions like the Museum of the Moving Image, the Noguchi Museum, the Louis Armstrong house. I think we have to promote them.”
Markey, 70, is married with three grown children. She worked in Borough Hall prior to joining the Assembly and said a major advantage she would have over Nunziato is her tenure in Albany
“I now have 14 years’ experience and in the State Assembly experience and seniority count,” Markey said. “When you’re a freshman, you’re just kind of trying to find your way around. With experience, with my chairmanship, you can really do some good for the people of this state.”
Nunziato believes Markey has been ineffectual in leveraging her years in the Capitol in order to serve her district better.
“There’s no constituent service,” Nunziato said. “I have people coming three or four time a week saying so. Just getting elected doesn’t get you experience. What good is being in the majority if there is not a gain for your people?”
He also ridiculed a recent newsletter, claiming Markey was taking credit for a traffic light that was installed 30 years ago.
Markey said that taken in context of the mailing, the traffic light was meant to inspire young people to become more involved in their communities.
Markey said another priority will be her Child Victim Act. If passed, it would give victims of abuse up to one year from the date of the act becoming law to file civil suits.
Opponents have accused Markey of aiming the bill at the Catholic Church, which the assemblywoman said is unfair. But she did say it has everything to do with fairness to victims. She pointed to the recent release by the Boy Scouts of known or suspected abuse cases.
“Experts say each pedophile can have more than 100 victims,” she said. “That’s a lot of victims in this state”
Markey said raising the minimum wage will benefit everyone, not just those who are low-income earners.
“Let people bring home a decent amount of money,” she said. “They’ll turn around and spend it — maybe go to a restaurant or go shopping. They’re not going to invest [the increase] in the stock market. That money goes back into the local economy.”
Markey also said she is willing to vote Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) back as speaker of the Assembly. Silver has come under fire for his apparent approval of taxpayer-funded hush money to settle claims of sexual impropriety against Aseamblyman and former Brooklyn Democratic leader Vito Lopez.
“I have a problem with the issue, but Sheldon Silver is a decent man who knows the issues that face New Yorkers,” she said. “I’ve seen him at the end of the day’s session meet with the Democratic caucus and he will literally sit in the room until midnight if he has to, listening to us on the issues. That’s something the public doesn’t see.”
Markey said she and Lopez do not get along, and that Silver has apologized for the process he used to funnel taxpayer funds for the victim’s settlement.
“The speaker should have gone to the ethics committee and told us what was going on,” she said.