City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) would like to stay councilman indefinitely, but as the law would have it, his 12 years are up next year, so he must set his sights on another office if he wishes to stay in the business of public service.
And he does. At the Vallone & Vallone law firm’s Christmas party on Tuesday the outspoken councilman who rarely, if ever, holds back an opinion announced his official bid for Queens borough president.
“Every borough president has a different style,” Vallone said. “Marty Markowitz is a great cheerleader for Brooklyn. Ruben Diaz [of the Bronx] is very involved with the City Council and the lawmaking process. Helen Marshall [of Queens] is very good at getting along with everyone.”
He wants to combine the best qualities of all the borough presidents, as well as add an element — strong leadership.
As the Astoria councilman, he said he has been a worldwide leader against graffiti, a city leader pushing for more police officers on the street, and in Queens he spoke out against such plans as the renaming of the Queensboro Bridge and the removal “of the borough’s only big piece of art” — the “Civic Virtue” statue, a controversial work being moved from its location at Borough Hall [Editorial, page 8].
As Chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, Vallone said he has worked with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to make New York City streets safer.
He backs the commissioner’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy and vocally pushed for increasing the number of officers. This year he started a neighborhood watch in Astoria and has passed many pieces of legislation increasing punishment for gun traffickers and graffiti vandals.
On the graffiti front he created legislation that makes it harder to get graffiti tools and requires larger buildings and stores to clean graffiti from their property. He also created and helped pass a law requiring that all new roll-down security gates on stores be see-through.
In other areas, as a member of Smart Power NY, a coalition of citizen organizations, environmental groups and politicians, Vallone pushed for cleaner-burning power plants, as dirty ones have contributed to parts of his district being dubbed Asthma Alley.
“In addition to a track record for leadership, I’ll bring my experience as a small business person,” Vallone said.
Before taking his position as councilman, the Queens native ran his family’s law business for 10 years. Vallone recently fought alongside Astoria businesses to keep a plaza from being created on Newtown and 30th avenues, which business owners said would obstruct traffic to their stores.
“I know how to make a payroll,” Vallone said. “I know how big government affects small businesses. No one [among the other candidates] has any business experience.”
Other officials who have expressed interest in the seat are Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik. State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), former Councilwoman Melinda Katz and Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) have officially announced their bid.
Vallone has fundraised more than a million dollars.
“I’m fully funded for the race,” he said. “I can now concentrate on issues instead of fundraising.”