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Queens Chronicle

Reyes talks jobs and opponents in 15th SD

GOP nominee faces Ulrich, primary in effort to challenge Addabbo

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Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:28 am, Thu Aug 30, 2012.

Look at Juan Reyes’ resume and one sees what ordinarily would be impeccable credentials for a Republican seeking his first elective office.

The Forest Hills resident is a father of three and a partner at a prestigious Manhattan law firm.

He worked as legal counsel for multiple city departments and agencies from 1997 to 2002 under mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg.

He also worked in Washington, DC for Bob Dole (R-Kansas), the five-term United States senator and 1996 GOP presidential nominee who was defeated by President Clinton.

In his quest to unseat state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) in the 15th SD, Reyes has embraced a pro-business platform of lower taxes and a balanced approach to spending and regulation.

And in a recent interview with the editorial board of the Queens Chronicle, Reyes said he disagrees with many of the budget votes Addabbo has cast in Albany.

But it is Republican politics in Queens that has Reyes in a primary against GOP Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), a race in which some feel Reyes is an underdog despite having the formal endorsement of the Queens County Republican Party.

Ulrich is considered a leader in an insurgent wing of the party that has been vociferously critical of the county leadership. He considers Reyes a spoiler in the race, particularly since the councilman cannot vacate the Independence and Conservative party lines should Reyes defeat him for the GOP line on Sept. 13.

“I think he’s the spoiler,” Reyes said. “He made his announcement when he knew I had expressed my interest in getting the nomination. He did not care enough about the voters to come before the party leadership and ask for their endorsement.”

Reyes said Ulrich should withdraw.

He believes the councilman has been far too accommodating to Democratic leadership in City Hall.

He cited the example of Ulrich supporting a proposed increase to New York State’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80 over three years.

Reyes says an increase, along with measures in the council that would mandate sick days for most companies no matter how small, and a so-called living wage bill, would harm businesses and cost jobs by forcing employers to either reconsider hiring new workers or by outright layoffs.

“And the city has 10.3 percent unemployment,” he said.

Reyes said his first bill would likely be something to address rising property taxes. While the state Senate is considered a part-time job, Reyes has not yet decided if he will continue with his law practice should he get elected in November.

He did not directly answer whether or not he thought Addabbo has done a bad job.

“I think Sen. Addabbo goes along with the leadership of the Democratic Party,” he said.

Reyes said campaigning is fun, though hard work, and that he still is getting better acquainted with the issues facing Southern Queens as opposed to his own environs in the northern part of the district.

Jobs, he said, are the most oft-mentioned issue he has encountered on his door-to-door forays into the district.

On the subject of hydrofracking — the controversial process for extracting natural gas from rock formations that is being studied for upstate regions — Reyes said the state must do so if it can be done safely.

“It seems to be done safely in Pennsylvania,” Reyes said. He said environmental concerns for both upstate residents near wells and those in New York City who depend on upstate water supplies must be paramount in any decision by the state.

But he also believes that proper zoning and land use regulations — his specialty at the Reed Smith law firm — can go a long way toward addressing problems with and allaying people’s concerns about the practice.

Ulrich is being supported by the state Republican Party, though Reyes believes that may be largely a function of the elected Republican having the name recognition.

He believes that won’t be an issue with state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Long Island) should he beat Ulrich and Addabbo, and join a Senate where Republicans right now hold a razor-thin majority.

“This election is in Queens and I am the endorsed candidate of the Queens Republican Party,” Reyes said. “And Sen. Skelos will still want my vote for majority leader.”

Reyes also believes his professional and personal experience make him far more suited than Ulrich to be an effective advocate for Queens in the state capital.

“I’ve worked 10 years in government and 10 years in the private sector,” he said. “Eric isn’t ready to go up to Albany and start negotiating with those lawyers.”

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