You don’t have to spend more to do more — that’s the philosophy lawyer and Democrat Clyde Vanel is bringing to the 33rd Assembly District race as he takes on career politician Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village), who has represented the area since 1987.
Vanel is not waiting to get elected to implement some of his plans, he has already started. His campaign office on Linden Boulevard is doubling as a resource center, where community members volunteer their time to teach others a myriad of skills. He is so confident that he will win, he has taken out a four-year lease on the place.
It’s just one example, he says, of how the community can maximize resources — using what they already have to make their neighborhoods better. And he’s not stopping there. Vanel said similar resource centers could be located after-hours at public schools, space that otherwise is wasted.
The long-time business attorney has also set his sights on job creation and the growth of small businesses. Vanel has his own law firm and owned a restaurant in Manhattan for several years, which closed in 2010, but in that time he says he created a total of 150 jobs. He plans to bring that entrepreneurial business sense to the legislative arena to help others prosper as he did.
Vanel views himself as an American success story and hopes he can lead by example. He is one of 10 children born to poor, uneducated Haitian immigrants, yet he and all his siblings are now business professionals, because they worked hard and took advantage of the opportunities available to them.
The Cambria Heights native aims to make the district more attractive for private sector investment and higher-wage occupations by removing regulatory and procedural barriers and said he will introduce legislation and support policies to lower state-imposed costs on businesses.
Another big issue affecting Southeast Queens is crime, but Vanel opposes the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy and believes that it should be eliminated.
“It is really hurtful to black and Latino men across the city,” Vanel said. “We need jobs and programs that will provide opportunities and will give these young people something to do. We need to address the root of the problem, not just put a Band-Aid on it.”
Vanel slammed the Department of Education for closing and replacing existing schools with smaller ones, instead of helping them to improve.
“We should not be closing schools,” Vanel said. “We should be giving them the resources to succeed. I will work hard to keep our schools open. If we don’t take care of our children, we will have a bleak future.”
Vanel said he will work to improve schools through added resources and funding, aid successful programs that properly educate children, support teachers and staff who work effectively and promote community and parent involvement.
Also among Vanel’s priorities is ethics reform. He believes that government should be transparent and accountable. He supports financial disclosures by elected officials, special interest groups and lobbyists.
Vanel would introduce legislation to create a more independent Joint Commission on Public Ethics because, he says, the Public Integrity Reform Act, passed last June, gives officials the ability to stop investigations by the commission and prevent allegations from being made public.
Vanel, 37, ran against Clark, 73, in 2010, but lost. He received 33.2 percent of the vote, while Clark got 66.8 percent. But he remains confident that he can win this time around.
“I thought we ran a successful campaign last time, but we didn’t have a lot of resources. This time we are going to outraise the incumbent. Our goal is to raise $100,000, and we are on track to do that.”
The 33rd Assembly District includes the neighborhoods of Cambria Heights, St. Albans, Hollis, Queens Village and parts of Bellerose and Floral Park. The Democratic Primary is on Thursday, Sept. 13.