Noteworthy candidates are rising to the occasion and stepping up to the plate for a chance to bring fairness and independent thinking to the council chambers.
by: Raquel Okyay
As popular Queens’ Democrat councilman is term limited out of office, the Republican candidate, Daniel P. Peterson said he would add a much-needed pragmatic voice into a city government that needs constraint.
“Our city legislature needs common-sense conservatives who know how to balance a checkbook,” said Peterson, a real estate lease administrator who is the Republican Party candidate for New York City Council, District 22 which represents Astoria and parts of East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.
Democrat Peter F. Vallone Jr. has been the district’s councilman since 2002. There are five individuals on the ballot in the general election. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The city legislature primarily votes on budget matters and requests for discretionary spending,
said Peterson. “With nearly 95% of the council advocating liberal policies, the tax payers are being fleeced.”
Being a council representative is not just about “bringing home the bacon” for district improvements, he said. “We can encourage businesses and citizens to work together to invest in Astoria.”
“As councilman, I will work with all non-profit organizations with fundraising when there are no discretionary funds available; and I will propose legislation offering tax relief to small businesses that provide financial assistance to after-school programs, events and community improvements,” he said.
The New York City council currently has just 4 Republicans and 47 Democrats, he said. “Unfortunately, the Republican Party continues its failure to communicate in an effective way causing frustration with conservative voters.”
The New York State Republican Party flounders without presenting core values, said Peterson, who has been employed in the private sector for over 25 years. “The GOP fails to have a cohesive message that brings in new voters.”
“I pre-registered to vote when I was 17 years-old so I would be able to vote for mayor in 1989,” he said. “I have consistently voted in 3 out of every 4 year election cycles since.”
It was his disapproval of Michael Bloomberg’s actions, as mayor that sparked his interest in local politics, he said. “The mayor increased property taxes by 18.5% and he began rolling out his anti-liberty, nanny-state policies.”
However, the worst move Bloomberg could make was to refinance the city’s debt from the 1970s, he said. “The city was scheduled to pay off its debt in 2008, yet instead of spending cuts and shrinking government, Bloomberg struck a deal to continue making debt payments into the 2030s.”
The ability to make tough decisions in order to balance the budget is what we expect from city government, said Peterson. “The Democrats want to raise taxes to expand the size of government even more. I would call for an audit of all city agencies to see which ones we can consolidate and which ones we can fold.”
“As city councilman, I would advocate we sell city-owned land we do not need so we can cut property taxes,” he said. “I would move to pass legislation that provides tax relief to small businesses that invest in the communities they operate in.”
Astoria is seeing new development over the past few years that demands careful accounting, he said. “Some of these developers have donated to my Democrat opponent’s campaign.”
If elected to the city council, the Queens native said he would keep a scornful eye on quid-pro-quodeals. “Tax payer funded projects sometimes fuel special-interest groups who expect payback in return.”
Developers continue to build without regard to congestion and safety precautions, said Peterson. “We need responsible development that does not overpopulate our town or create hazards. Improving traffic patterns, expanding bus service and proposing ferry service along the waterfront are ways to help relieve congestion.”
Providing English classes to immigrants struggling to integrate into society is a task he is willing to take-on, he said. “Adult education is an extremely important avenue for finding employment.”
“Astoria is an immigrant community with many different languages spoken in the home,” he said. “I would look to open more English language centers, so our newest New Yorkers can communicate with their neighbors and assist their children with homework.”
Keeping the community involved is key to operating a city as diverse as New York, said the Queens Borough Community College graduate. “I would hold town hall meetings throughout the district discussing topics from education to jobs to home ownership.”
Peterson said liberal policies have been hurting New Yorkers and that is something he would like to see change. “I can provide new ideas and solutions to a struggling community.”
“Astoria is a unique place to live,” he said. “We have street fairs and block parties every summer; these events bring business, non-profits and the community together.”