For Costa Constantinides, running for City Council seemed like the logical step to take.
“I’ve lived here my entire life,” he said during a interview at the Chronicle’s office. “I’m involved, I’ve marched against school cuts and I have unique skills in and out of the government.”
The lifelong Astoria resident has a lengthy resume. He has helped formulate legislation as the legislative director for Councilwoman Darlene Mealy (D-Brookyln) and current Councilman and chairman of Environmental Protection James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows). He was vice president of the Long Island City Alliance, dedicated to securing responsible development in Long Island City and, in 2009, he was elected Democratic District Leader for Part A for the 36th Assembly District.
“I know how government works and I know what the district wants,” he said.
Many of his ideas, including reducing class sizes, eliminating trailer use for overcrowded schools, a “repower project” to improve air quality and funding local hospitals, are expensive. But Constantinides said the money is there.
“We have the money in the budget and many of these projects wouldn’t be funded out of pocket,” he said. “We have the fourth or fifth largest budget, so we have the money, we just need to prioritize how we spend it.”
When asked what separates him from his opponents, Constantinides, who is currently the frontrunner against Green Party candidate Lynne Serpe and Independence candidate Danielle De Stefano, is quick to respond.
“I have a plan and I have the experience to make that plan happen,”he said. “Some of my opponents have a plan but no experience while others have the experience but no plan.”
One of Constantinides’ major goals is to reduce trash dumping in the district. Under his plan, fines for illegal dumping would increase to “force those who aren’t playing by the rules to play by the rules.”
He is also in full support of the recently approved Hallets Point proposal that will place a massive housing development just north of Socrates Scupture Park in Astoria.
“I think it’s a great thing,” he said. “It’s bringing union jobs and it’ll bring affordable housing to the area and the idea of bringing a ferry to Hallets Point is something that is greatly needed.”
To critics who say the development will result in segregation within the community and overdevelopment, Constantinides stood by the developers.
“I recognize that residents have to be protected and I’ve worked hard to stand up against developers who didn’t have the community’s best interest at heart but the city is growing and it’s been good to have success,” he said. “I don’t think it will bring a negative sense to the community, just the opposite.”
To those who are still on the fence about who to vote for:
“First and foremost, no matter who you’re voting for, make sure you vote,” he said. “I can deliver from day one and I will.”