Now that the dust has settled and Ed Braunstein is the Democratic candidate running to fill Ann Carrozza’s 26th Assembly seat, what about his opponent?
Vince Tabone, 44, a lawyer living in Bayside and vice chairman of the Queens Republican Party, says he has the experience and background to serve the people in the district, which covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Bay Terrace, Whitestone and East Flushing.
He will face Braunstein, 29, also a lawyer from Bayside, in the November election. Braunstein, who last worked in constituent services for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in Manhattan, beat three opponents in the recent Democratic primary.
“Voters have a real choice — politics as usual or to try someone new with experience,” Tabone said from his Whitestone campaign office on Thursday.
The seat is being vacated by Carrozza, who has held it since 1996 and decided not to seek re-election. There hasn’t been a sitting Republican since she first defeated incumbent Doug Prescott. But many political pundits in the area say Tabone has a real shot at reclaiming the seat for Republicans.
“I am running on my record, both public and community service,” he said. “I have people skills and I know the law.”
The candidate grew up in the Rockaways and later lived in Astoria before moving to Bayside eight years ago, “because it has the best school system in the city.” He and his wife have three children, ranging in age from 15 to two. His wife is an assistant principal at Forest Hills High School.
Tabone is a graduate of Baruch College and New York Law School and served in the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations with the city’s Economic Development Corp., responsible for Queens projects. He also worked at the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
On the state level, Tabone worked as the general counsel and an assistant special deputy superintendent overseeing insolvent insurers.
He now serves as pro bono general counsel to Friends of Oakland Lake and founded the North Eastern Queens Community Action Network.
For two years, Tabone was on Community Education District Council 26 and was instrumental in helping the group sue the schools chancellor, calling it a successful way to identify problems in the Student Leadership Team process.
“I view things through the eyes of a dad,” Tabone said. “I’ve raised a family in the time Braunstein worked for Silver. Kids drive your life and I know how to juggle household funds.”
He indicated that voters “need to elect adults who prioritize. You have to be practical; we can’t do everything we want.” That’s one of the problems of the dysfunctional, free-spending state Legislature, Tabone believes, and he pledges if elected to help reform agencies and work with conservative Democrats to stop the legislative roadblocks in the Assembly.
Never mentioning his opponent by name, Tabone said “it strains credibility that Braunstein will be a reformer, considering who he worked for.”
Aside from his involvement with Silver, Braunstein is related to Albany lobbyist Brian Meara. But he continues to tout himself as an Albany outsider and has called for ethics and budget reform.
According to Tabone, his opponent interned for Silver for five years and served as an aide for two. “If you haven’t done the job, this shouldn’t be your first job,” he said.
Tabone describes himself as a fiscal conservative and an independent Republican. “There is runaway spending in Albany and a lack of fiscal restraint,” he said. “New York State was supposed to be in the vanguard of everything. Our leaders embarrass us.”
The candidate said he is working hard in the community to win by knocking on doors and meeting potential voters at the train station. “I recognize my opponent’s advantage as a Democrat,” he said. “He’s a formidable candidate, even though he doesn’t have experience.”
Tabone’s campaign has raised $115,000 and he’s sure he’ll reach his goal of $150,000. “I’ve gotten money from Democrats and others because I’ve always been involved with my community,” he said.
Area issues that concern him include overdevelopment, maintaining the character of communities and the ineffectiveness of city agencies such as the Board of Standards and Appeals and the Department of Buildings in doing their jobs.
“You have to be vigilant,” he said. “I can still get involved in city issues. I’ve done the job and you need that gravitas with city officials.