State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) believes in reforming New York’s state government, something he says has been a priority in the nearly two years he has served in Albany.
Addabbo is hoping voters of the 15th Senate District send him back to the state capital for another term to continue that work.
“I see myself as part of the solution in Albany, not part of the problem,” Addabbo said during a meeting with the Queens Chronicle editorial board last week.
Addabbo is squaring off against Republican Anthony Como, an attorney who had briefly served in the City Council.
After serving eight years in the council, Addabbo beat 10-term incumbent Republican Serphin Maltese in 2008 for the 15th District seat.
Addabbo said he was motivated to leave his council post to pursue election to the state Senate due to his disappointment in the way state government was run.
“I felt the need to go to Albany and make a change,” he said. “We should have a state government that is looked on with envy, not laughter.”
Addabbo points to several reform-minded measures the state Legislature has adopted as proof that progress is being made, including one to make it easier for a member of the minority party to introduce legislation and more transparency in how members allocate state funds. He also noted that the state’s spending increase this year is lower than the rate of inflation; only the fourth time in 30 years that has been accomplished in Albany.
Still, Addabbo believes more can be done. He pointed out that some members of the state Legislature are resistant to reform, noting that he has introduced 13 pieces of legislation dealing with campaign finance reform since he has been elected with eight of them being killed in committee.
Addabbo knows New York’s high taxes are foremost on the minds of voters, and to that end he supports a property tax cap of some kind.
“It’s a necessity for the middle class,” he said. “We want people to stay in New York City.”
Regarding the soon-to-begin Aqueduct racino project, Addabbo said that he pushed for Genting New York, the company redeveloping the old race track, to provide its own private security to patrol the area so the 106th Precinct wouldn’t be stretched too thin.
“I’ve had meetings with them to ensure the area around Aqueduct is safe,” he said.
Regarding jobs at the new facility, Addabbo said it is written in the memorandum of understanding between Genting and the state that the community would get the “lion’s share” of the jobs available.
“It’s a project that will directly impact our community, so our community should benefit the most from it,” Addabbo said, while noting that Genting has also pledged to donate 1 percent of its net profits to as yet unspecified community groups.
When asked about the legislation he was most proud of, Addabbo pointed to a bill he co-authored to halt hydrofracking in upstate watersheds, and one that would give non-combat cold war veterans the same property tax break that combat veterans receive.
Addabbo also noted Leandra’s Law, a state law making it an automatic felony on the first offense to drive drunk with a person under the age of 15 inside a vehicle, as another one he was instrumental in forming.
“I’m very proud about helping to create that bill,” he said.
Addabbo said his charge is to represent the interests of the residents of the 15th District, and not to appease party leaders or special interest groups.
“I’m compassionate about the people issues,” he said. “I answer to my constituents, not the lobbyists.”