John Duane knows he has the most experience to become the next Assembly member from the 26th District. He’s already held the job.
Duane, 56, of Douglaston was elected to the Assembly and held the position for one two-year term in the 1980s. “When I ran again, I was beaten by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, who swept the Democratic district,” he said.
The incumbent was defeated by Republican Doug Prescott, who retained the position until he was beaten by Democrat Ann Carrozza in 1996. Carrozza has held the seat ever since, announcing in April she would not seek re-election.
The district, which covers Whitestone, East Flushing, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Little Neck and Douglaston, has drawn out several candidates for the job. Besides Duane, announced Democrats include the county party’s pick, Ed Braunstein, who works for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver; Bayside attorney Steve Behar and Whitestone lawyer Elio Forcina. On the Republican side are Vince Tabone, the GOP designee, and Rob Speranza, who previously ran for the seat.
Duane said he is “very excited” about resuming his career in public service. He has remained active in area Democratic clubs and had been offered the position of state committeeman, but turned it down to run for the Assembly.
After leaving politics, Duane said his main focus was raising his three children. One just graduated from college and the other two are in college. “They are great kids and excited about the campaign and will help me this summer,” he said.
Duane, who has been in general law practice since leaving Albany, believes his chances are excellent for taking back his old seat. “People do know me,” he said. “I coached their children in soccer, baseball and basketball, plus I raised my family here and l know the quality of life issues.”
His main concerns are public safety, education and overdevelopment. In addition, he pointed out that for the last seven years he has worked on consumer class action cases involving credit counseling and wants to see reform implemented on the state level.
“If elected, I want to pass a law that no one can sign up for credit counseling until the companies make disclosures as to where the money goes,” Duane said.
He noted that many of the firms take people’s money without telling them that the first installment does not go to pay off the debt. Due to his efforts, one company has been put out of business.
Born in Flushing, Duane is a graduate of Holy Cross High School, Colgate University and Columbia Law School. After graduating, he worked for two years in the state Attorney General’s Office.
His brother, Tom, is a state senator from Manhattan.
Duane called the situation in Albany “a disgrace,” and believes the only way to improve state government is through institutional change. “We need campaign finance reform, nonpartisan redistricting and more power to the legislators so decisions are not made by the three men in a room.”
He was referring to the charge that the governor, Assembly speaker and state Senate majority leader make all the major decisions.
Duane said that legislators have been hostages to special interest groups and are not thinking independently. “That’s why we need campaign finance reform,” he added.
The candidate is not concerned by the number of people vying for the Assembly seat, saying it doesn’t matter. “I will campaign vigorously and ring a lot of doorbells,” Duane said. “That’s how I did it the first time and how I’ll win again.”