Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) does not have a Republican opponent in November, but he will have to fend off a challenge for his seat — in this month’s Democratic primary.
Miller, who was elected in a special election to replace former Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio in 2009, is being challenged by 27-year-old Community Board 9 member Etienne David Adorno, a resident of Woodhaven who works on the staff of Councilman Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan).
The 38th Assembly District was redrawn slightly in redistricting, with much of Miller’s political base in Glendale being drawn out of the district, and parts of City Line and Ozone Park being added. The new district — once home to a large Irish, Italian and German population — is 47 percent Hispanic and includes a significant West Indian and Indo-Caribbean population in Richmond Hill.
Before Miller, Seminerio held the seat for more than 30 years.
No stranger to challenges from within his own party — he faced Community Education Council District 24 President and CB 9 member Nick Comianni in 2010 — Miller is emphasizing his focus on quality of life issues and constituent service in his re-election campaign.
Among the accomplishments he noted was pushing the MTA to move up the repainting of the J-train elevated structure over Jamaica Avenue, much of which was done in 2011. He also emphasized his office’s constituent services and credited his staff for being helpful to district residents who call with problems and requests, which he said he enjoys helping people with.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” Miller said.
Miller’s office fields calls for stop signs, speed bumps, traffic lights and assistance in navigating government agencies and receiving government services. Currently, he said, he is working on trying to get a traffic light at 68th Street and Cooper Avenue in Glendale, which he said is a problem intersection.
On state-level issues, Miller opposes hydrofracking, stating that he is not comfortable with the possible effect the chemicals used in the process, which extracts natural gas from bedrock, can have on the city’s watershed. He acknowledged that hydrofracking may be a job creator, but that the possible repercussions of any chemical contamination would adversely effect his constituents.
“Assure me that my drinking water will be OK,” Miller said. “I have to worry about my constituents.”
He also opposed Gov. Cuomo’s creation of a Tier VI pension plan for state employees, saying it hurt people and union workers. He defended state workers, arguing their work is often more difficult and they are forced to work longer hours.
“It’s a different type of employment,” he said.
Miller supports raising the minimum wage, disagreeing with the notion that it would cost jobs. He said raising the minimum wage would have the effect of allowing people to spend more money, which would help balance out any income stores and companies would lose by paying more in wages.
He also threw his support behind the DREAM fund, a fund set up to raise money for scholarships for children of illegal immigrants. He also supports full legalized gambling in the state, which would allow manned table games at Resorts World Casino New York City and other casinos across New York.
Miller’s colleague, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Far Rockaway), has been pushing for the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Long Island Rail Road line, which runs from Rego Park to the Rockaways parallel to Woodhaven Boulevard and right through the 38th District. Miller joined Goldfeder in support of its reopening, but noted there has been some opposition, especially north of Forest Park where the line has been built over. Miller said he is extremely supportive of seeing the line reactivated south of Atlantic Avenue, with a spur heading toward Brooklyn and ultimately Lower Manhattan, though he says that idea may be decades away, if possible at all.
“I think there’s room for compromise,” he said, using the Forest Park Crescent apartment building as an example. There, the old railroad line has been replaced by the building’s parking lot. He suggested a new parking garage could be built over the reconstructed tracks, but said transportation options are important to the area, because traffic is often a nightmare on many of the area’s thoroughfares.
“If you’ve ever driven from Glendale to Howard Beach at five o’clock on a Thursday, it could take an hour,” he said.
Miller touted his bill to prevent sex offenders from getting jobs working with children as one of his prominent successes and suggested potential new legislation he would propose or sign onto in 2013, including a measure that would force pawn shops to photograph people who come in selling gold, to prevent criminals from selling stolen gold items, a trend police in Southern Queens had blamed for recent burglaries in Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Richmond Hill.
He generally supports the job Gov. Cuomo has been doing, despite his disagreements with him on a number of issues including pension reform and hydrofracking. He also took issue with the governor’s veto of member items, noting their importance to community services like senior centers, noting that some like the Forest Park Senior Center are not even able to pay their directors. Miller has not provided any earmarked funding since his election because all member items were vetoed by Gov. Cuomo and former Gov. Paterson every year since Miller has been in office.