Stefano Forte is ‘a new type of Republican’ 1

Stefano Forte, a former Republican campaign manager, is running to flip the District 11’s state Senate seat from blue to red in the 2022 election.

The northeastern section of Queens showed up for Republican candidates Nov. 2, and Stefano Forte is hoping to ride the red wave into next year in his bid to become District 11’s next state senator.

“It just goes to show the mood of northeast Queens, [that] we’re not having it,” said Forte. “Northeast Queens wants common sense Republicans who are going to run.”

The 23-year-old from Flushing announced his candidacy Nov. 15, less than two weeks after the city elections wrapped up, but Forte said he had been considering a run for the entire year leading up to it.

“What did it for me was the complete and utter social unrest of 2020,” Forte said. “If I’m being honest, 2020 made me want to run because we need someone like us to represent us. Not somebody with money, not somebody with the connections. Someone that actually cares.”

Forte added that he has been greatly encouraged by the way the area voted earlier this month, particularly in the City Council District 19 race in which Republican Vickie Paladino seemingly won. According to unofficial city Board of Elections results, Paladino beat out former Councilmember and state Sen. Tony Avella by 1,653 votes and conservative Republican John-Alexander Sakelos by 10,414 votes.

Two of the Assembly districts that share jurisdiction with state Senate District 11 also favored Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa over mayor-elect Eric Adams. Sliwa won 52.3 percent of the vote in Assembly District 25, and 68.2 percent in Assembly District 26.

AD 26 was nearly flipped red in 2020 by Sakelos, who only trailed 5,000 votes behind incumbent Assemblymember Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside). Forte had served as Sakelos’ campaign manager at the time, as well as through Sakelos’ 2020 City Council run against Paladino, during which time he learned that the people of the district are ready for a change.

“There’s no time better than right now. We’re trending red like we haven’t trended red since the Obama midterms in 2010,” said Forte. The District 11 seat he hopes to fill has been held by Democrats for the last decade.

Forte considers himself, since the mayoral elections, a “Curtis Sliwa Republican.” He closely aligns with Sliwa’s populist, “for the people” ideology, and hopes to replicate it in his own campaign.

The No. 1 priority of Forte’s bid is to address crime, especially when it comes to bail reform. People who get arrested multiple times, commit hate crimes or possess child pornography should have to post bail, he said.

Another major point of his campaign is providing fair and balanced curricula in schools. Critical race theory should not be allowed in the classroom, he said, and neither should schools be masking children. Forte believes that long-term masking will result in stunted social skills in the nation’s youths.

Additionally, Forte wants to get small businesses back on their feet. He wants to implement a one-year tax moratorium for small business that were forced to close during the pandemic, even as many big corporations, like Amazon, were allowed to continue operating and making money, he pointed out.

“The fact of the matter is that the New York State government would rather give tax cuts to these big corporations than they would these small businesses,” Forte said, reflecting on how one of his favorite diners closed during the pandemic and has since been replaced by a Popeyes. “I’m not here to be the senator for big business. I’m not here to be the senator for the few and well-connected. I’m not here to be the senator for the Mark Zuckerbergs and Jeff Bezoses.’”

Rather than giving tax cuts to big corporations, Forte wants to force them to pay their fair share. He also wants to mirror a policy Sliwa introduced in his mayoral campaign: taxing Madison Square Garden.

The goal to tax big business is a deviation from the conservative Republican mission, which Forte acknowledges, but he says it is just one of many. His modern-age policies make him emblematic of a “new type of Republican,” he said.

“The Rand Paul libertarianism is gone,” Forte said. “There is a populist rise in the Republican party and I am part of that rise. I consider myself to be more of a Teddy Roosevelt Republican than I consider myself a Reagan Republican.”

Forte’s platform also includes several animal welfare policies, including eliminating kill shelters throughout New York State. To counteract a growing animal population, Forte proposes creating a state-level job that has individuals track-neuter-release animals, and he also wants to expand tax credits to people who foster animals, not just adopt them.

A family policy is also part of Forte’s plan. He wants to create a $10,000 family marital state loan for newly married couples. If the duo stay together and in New York State for five years, the proposed loan would be forgiven. The goal is to help young New Yorkers and keep a fleeing population inside the state. When couples have children, he believes they should receive a state-level tax credit, as well.

The overall message of Forte’s campaign is to replace elitist politicians who are masquerading as people who care about the neighborhoods they represent. He said most politicians are “disgusting,” are vying for corporate donors and smile in the faces of their constituents while voting for policies the people don’t want.

The young candidate urged voters not to choose him if they believe the state is being managed correctly as it stands. Forte said those who believe it is being managed poorly and is in need of change would find his platform and policy ideas encouraging.

“I think it’s time for a change. I’m young, I’m energetic, I’m ready to go and I’m passionate,” said Forte. “I’m ready to be someone with new ideas. I’m not here for the Republican idea, I’m not here for the Democrat idea, I’m here for the right idea, and that’s what our district needs right now.”

Forte also wants voters to know that he never wears dress shoes.

“If your elected official is wearing dress shoes, he’s not ready to go walking and you need someone who’s ready to go walking with the people. You need someone who’s going to be working,” said Forte. “Dress shoes are for luxury. I wear my Adidas because I’m going to be making the rounds in my district to make sure everyone is taken care of and represented fairly.”

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