City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) has no intention of discontinuing his public service after he is term-limited out next year. He has set his sights on the office of borough president and feels he would be a powerful voice to represent what he called the most dynamic borough in the city.
“I would ask people to look at my track record,” Comrie said. “I have the ability and the desire to stay in public service. I had the good fortune to be born and raised in Queens, so I understand the history of this borough and all the elements that make it great.”
There are many things the three-term lawmaker and head of the Queens delegation has on his agenda. First and foremost, after witnessing the effects of Hurricane Sandy and hearing that meteorologists are predicting that such a storm could hit twice a year in the future, Comrie is naturally concerned about disaster preparation.
He wants to re-examine the flood zone maps, and possibly revamp them to better reflect the likelihood of more communities being in a storm’s path. Also, Comrie wants to make sure there is a strategy to quickly and effectively deploy assistance to those affected.
“Even our B areas can be impacted by an A Zone,” Comrie said, referring to the city flood zones where residents were not evacuated as they were in Zone A. “Superstorm Sandy created a high tide situation for 24 hours and impacted our B areas.
We need to work with the state and federal government to fight for the best courses of action to protect the shoreline and fortify resources.”
One cannot talk about the borough of Queens without mentioning its cultural diversity, something Comrie said should be celebrated publicly and spoken about more in schools.
In addition, Comrie wants to create more opportunities to educate Queens communities in an effort to make people more sensitive to different ethnicities. Part of that effort includes promoting volunteerism and parental participation in education as well as hosting public forums and other culturally-oriented events.
“I am known for being a problem solver and I have the desire to work with all people to make Queens the best borough in the city,” Comrie said.
Also on his agenda is lending a hand to small businesses, which he said are the key to growing the economy. Comrie said a lot of merchants aren’t able to take advantage of the resources available to them because they have a hectic work schedule, so he wants to bring the opportunities to them.
“We need to connect with small business owners,” Comrie said. “We need to increase the amount of outreach availability and tailor it to their schedule.”
Comrie also believes it is important that merchants explore different marketing avenues, such as participating in Restaurant Week, attending networking events and doing whatever possible to highlight their services. He recommends taking advantage of the small business resource centers at York College and LaGuardia Community College. He also supports expanding the role of the Chamber of Commerce and the Queens Economic Development Corp.
Others who are considering running for the office are City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), state Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik. Former City Councilwoman Melinda Katz has officially announced her bid.
Comrie said he hasn’t raised money for this campaign yet, because he hasn’t tried. But he’s not worried. He’s officially kicking off his fundraising efforts on Jan. 6 with an event at Antun’s in Queens Village.
“It’s not like I started fundraising as soon as I got re-elected,” Comrie said. “I haven’t had a lot of fundraising events. I’ve been too busy being in service to the community and taking care of my constituents.”
Asked why he chose to run for borough president instead of another elected office, Comrie said it’s because the position would best allow him to continue the work he has done in the City Council while also letting him use his natural skill set. “I want to create a bridge between all people,” Comrie said.