The incoming freshman class of Queens delegates to the City Council are ready to put their best foot forward, starting by presenting themselves as a strong and united entity.
“What needs to change is this division between districts,” Councilman-Elect Paul Vallone said at a meet and greet with the Queens Chamber of Commerce on Friday. “If there is an issue going on in the Rockaways, I’m not going to say ‘that’s not my district so I’m not going to address that.’ We need to be united and always supporting one another. That way, if someone says no to one of us, they better have a good reason for doing so or we’re all going to jump on it.”
Members of the chamber and community groups mingled with some of the incoming members of the City Council to get a better idea of what each official is looking to improve in his or her district.
In attendance were Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) — who was sworn in eight months ago in a special election— and Councilmen-Elects Daneek Miller, Rory Lancman and Vallone.
The questions ranged from expanding ferry service to South Queens to discussing the difficulties faced by small businesses every day but each councilman seemed to agree on one thing: Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it does require collaboration and cooperation between all the elected officials and city agencies.
Richards, who represents part of Far Rockaway, has been mainly focused on cleaning up the waterfront that was decimated during Hurricane Sandy.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” he said. “The curse is for obvious reasons but it’s a blessing because we get to rebuild this area and turn it into something better than it ever was before. Having the opportunity to create something better is a big honor.”
Richards is also looking to bring ferry service to JFK airport and possibly some part of Far Rockaway. A study on the proposal was released hours after the meet and greet and Richards seemed optimistic.
Newcomer Councilmen-Elects Costa Constantinides and Antonio Reynoso were supposed to attend but were unable to make it.
Constantinides, however, has spoken a great deal about continuing the economic boom his district, Astoria, has seen in reent years.
A major concern brought up by a Crystal Windows and Doors representative was the quickly changing College Point area.
“We’re taking in businesses from Willets Point and we’re seeing a lot of the area changing and I’m worried if we’ll be able to accommodate all of it,” he said.
Vallone and Lancman said that they would keep an eye on the situation.
Overall, the attendees seemed satisfied with the incoming Council members as many have made economic development and quality-of-life improvements key points in their campaigns.
All of the electeds said they were thrilled to be given the opportunity to hear the concerns of small business owners and look forward to working hand-in-hand as partners in the future.