Citing his energy and passion as setting him apart, Ed Braunstein announced on Saturday he is running in a crowded race for the 26th Assembly seat being vacated by Democrat Ann Carrozza.
Braunstein, 29, a lifelong Bayside resident, is the third Democrat to officially declare his candidacy. Carrozza announced earlier this month she will retire at the end of her term after serving in Albany since 1997.
“Albany is a disgrace. Elected officials, both Republicans and Democrats, are going to jail, while the governor is under investigation,” he said. “All the while, special interests yield enormous influence behind the scenes. Enough is enough.”
The candidate works for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in his Manhattan office, dealing with constituent services. He is an attorney and a member of Community Board 11 for one year.
So far, two Republicans, Vince Tabone and Rob Speranza, have announced they are running for the seat. The Democratic field includes Matthew Silverstein of Bay Terrace, president of the state Young Democrats, and Elio Forcina, a Whitestone attorney.
Other Democrats interested in the position are Steve Behar, a Bayside attorney; Carol Gresser of Douglaston, former president of the defunct Board of Education; Michael Sais, of Auburndale, chief of staff for Assemblyman Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria); John Duane of Douglaston, the former district assemblyman; and Debra Markell of Whitestone, who is district manager of Community Board 2.
Speaking to a large group of supporters at Crocheron Park in Bayside, Braunstein said it’s time to bring integrity and honesty back to government service. “We need tough new ethics reforms to ensure that the public interest comes first,” he said. “We need to bring a new era of transparency so we know exactly what’s happening with our money.”
Braunstein cited as the main issues affecting the district threats of overdevelopment and not getting back what is spent in tax dollars. “Parks are not maintained and schools are overcrowded,” Braunstein said.
“I look at PS 41 [across from Crocheron Park] and see the schoolyard where I spent countless days as a boy playing stick ball and I see trailers serving as classrooms,” he said. “Where is the investment in new schools for our children?” he asked.
Braunstein also wants parents to have more of a voice in their children’s education and that educators need to stop teaching to the test.
He believes the state has reached a limit on imposing taxes. “The state needs to reduce spending,” Braunstein said. “Last year, the state increased its spending by $13 billion. It’s time to sit down and figure out how to fix the budget.”
The Queens Democratic Party will endorse a candidate at the end of May. Until then, Braunstein will get his name out by putting up posters, advertising in local newspapers and through word of mouth. He is encouraged by Saturday’s rally, which he said “generated a buzz” and he also hopes to promote his campaign through direct mail.
“The days when we will simply take what we are given are over,” Braunstein said. “It’s time to fight for our community like we have never done before.”
He is a graduate of SUNY Albany and earned his law degree at New York Law School.
The 26th District includes Whitestone, East Flushing, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Malba and Bay Terrace.