For the first time in two decades, the District 22 City Council seat will not be taken up by a member of the Vallone family.
Due to term limits, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) will be stepping down from the post he has had for 12 years.
“I want to say it’s bittersweet but it’s hard to think of the sweetness of it,” Vallone said. “I’m proud of the work I’ve done for Astoria and it’s been an honor serving in public office.”
Vallone, who has never been afraid to share his mind, said he has introduced and passed more bills into law than virtually anyone else in the City Council.
“They were all things that I was passionate about,” he said. “When we wanted to put a ban on trans fats, people became so upset. But now that our food is a little better, the world isn’t falling apart.”
The councilman said he plans to spend most of his free time traveling, visiting his daughter at Notre Dame to take in a basketball game and riding around the neighborhood on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
“I’m also going to catch up on all the TV shows I have stockpiled on my DVR,” he joked.
The Vallone family has become somewhat of a staple in Astoria. Before the councilman, former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. represented District 22 and Vallone’s mother was a teacher in the neighborhood for more than 20 years.
Now his brother, Paul, will be the third Vallone to sit in the Council chamber, though he is representing a different district.
“People have called it a dynasty,” Vallone said. “But I always remind them that you don’t elect a dynasty. Our family is committed to serving the public and I think we’ve done a great job in doing that.”
Though he will hand off the baton to Councilman-Elect Costas Constantinidies in January, Vallone assured Astoria residents that he isn’t going anywhere.
“I may not be in office anymore but I’m going to keep an eye out and if I see something I don’t like, who knows, maybe I’ll become a public servant again,” he said.
The one thing Vallone said he cannot stand is political corruption, something he has not been afraid to stand up against.
“That is the one thing I absolutely hate,” he said. “It is an honor to have the public elect you and decide that they want you to be the one to represent them while they work and take care of their families. When you realize that people are hoping you’ll do what they would’ve done, it’s humbling, and for someone to abuse that privilege or do anything illegal just bugs me. Even though I won’t be in office, I’m going to continue to weed out corruption.”
Ever since Vallone announced his candidacy for borough president — he was beaten by Melinda Katz in the primary — rumors have swirled around the councilman’s future.
Many have suspected that Vallone eventually will take over for Richard Brown and be the next Queens district attorney but he played coy on the subject.
“I don’t know where the future will lead me,” he said. “I’m leaving all my options open, and when something comes along, I’ll seize the opportunity.”
As the Public Safety Committee chairman, Vallone, who entered office just after the Sept. 11 attacks, has been partially credited for the drop in crime the city has seen throughout the years.
“There were, and still are, a lot of people involved in the crime rate decrease but I do think I helped contribute to that,” he said. “After I entered office, we were convinced that the city would be attacked again, and thanks to the endless work of the NYPD and other groups, we have ensured the safety of the city from terrorists.”
Vallone said he has had several meetings with his successor and told Constantinides that he’d be at his disposal whenever he is needed.
“I still care deeply about this community and I’ll always be at the community’s disposal,” he said. “You’ll still see me around. I’ll be riding my Harley in the neighborhood and keeping up with everything that’s going on.”