Calling himself “a citizen candidate,” Republican City Council hopeful Alex Blishteyn says he’s the one to take on Democrat Rory Lancman for the 24th District seat.
The district, which runs from Rego Park to Fresh Meadows, is represented by Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), who is being term-limited out of his seat.
Although Blishteyn, a first-time candidate, will face Lancman, a former assemblyman, in the November election, he is not fazed by his opponent’s political experience.
Lancman, who served in the Assembly for six years, is running in a highly Democratic district, but Blishteyn hopes voters will look beyond party affiliations and concentrate on issues. “He’s not big on issues of local concern,” the Republican said, “such as helping small businesses and public safety.”
During Lancman’s campaign and while serving in Albany he has pushed for easing regulations for small businesses and developing policies that try to make living in the city more affordable. He has also been instrumental on the state level in homeland security measures for his district.
Blishteyn, a Russian immigrant who moved to the area with his family when he was 2 years old, wants to rein in the power of the Mayor’s Office over such issues as “how much salt and soda you can have” without input from the City Council.
He would reduce taxes on working families by not “nickel and diming” them with unnecessary fees and by giving incentives to small businesses.
Blishteyn, the father of two, would give parents a choice of where to send their children to school through a voucher program or city tax credit for private school tuition.
The candidate, who lives in Fresh Meadows and is an attorney, said there’s nothing wrong with being an underdog. “I’m the average Joe, not a politician,” he said. “I am not making this my career, but we need someone in city government to represent our district.”
As an immigrant, he said he appreciates the way his family was welcomed here and wants to give back. “This area means a lot to me,” Blishteyn said.
He has raised around $22,000 and believes matching funds will be the key. Blishteyn said that Lancman has received a lot of contributions from labor unions. “I’m not beholden to any one or any group,” he said. “I’m beholden to the public.”