BY LUIS GRONDA
The challenger to State Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said he has a passion to fight for the people of the 15th Senate District and believes he can bring a needed new voice to Albany.
Michael Conigliaro is the Republican challenger to the seat Addabbo has held since 2009. The Rego Park resident is looking to reclaim that position for the Republican Party, which was held by Addabbo’s predecessor, Serphin Maltese. The 15th Senate District encompasses much of southern and central Queens, stretching from the Rockaway Peninsula to parts of Ridgewood and including areas like Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Maspeth and Middle Village.
Conigliaro is an alumnus of St John’s University and Queensborough Community College and manages a law firm in Floral Park at the law offices of Peter Cardalena, Jr. He obtained his law degree at Concord Law School, an online law school based in California.
Last week, Conigliaro sat down with the Queens Tribune to discuss his campaign and his opinions on several issues affecting the district.
When asked why he decided to challenge Addabbo for the Senate seat, he said the district needs stronger representation in Albany than it has received in the last six years. When asked to elaborate on that, Conigliaro said there are issues being pushed in New York State affecting Queens that he would like to have a voice on, including the proposed homeless shelter in Glendale.
He said he is “completely opposed” to building the shelter at that site and there are better alternatives for that property.
“The reason I’m opposed is because the spot where it’s supposed to be placed could have use as either a school or an industrial manufacturing plant, one of the two,” Conigliaro said.
He was noncommittal when asked about the potential soccer stadium that could be built at Aqueduct Racetrack, saying he would want to find out what that facility would do to the area, including whether it will affect the property values of that neighborhood as well as how much traffic it would bring during events.
“Until I would know how many seats are in there and how many parking spots are in that lot and what other type of venues they would like to have in there besides the soccer stadium, like concerts, I would want to know those types of numbers before I would say if I’m for it or against it,” Conigliaro said.
Concerning the continued rebuilding of areas affected by Superstorm Sandy, he said Build it Back should have case managers handling people’s individual problems and situations regarding their home, a point he echoed while speaking at the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic Association on Tuesday.
He also said that Dept. of Environmental Protection and Dept. of Transportation should make sure to fix sewers and fire hydrants in commercial areas because some in Sandy-affected neighborhoods are still not operational.
Regarding the Woodhaven collapsed building at 78-19 Jamaica Ave., Conigliaro said he would be standing outside the building, making sure the owner does what he needs to do, whether it is renovating the building or demolishing it completely.
“We don’t want to have situations, like we’ve unfortunately had in the past, where a building collapses and people die and then things get done,” he said.
According to Conigliaro, the issues he will focus on in his campaign include addressing quality of life in the district’s neighborhoods and using discretionary funds towards opening more senior centers in the district and funding more civic organizations as well.
When asked how he can win this race, Conigliaro touted himself as a “citizen candidate” and that he would be able to get more things done for the district as a majority member in the New York State Senate.
“My main message for the voters is, I’m doing this because I believe I have what it takes to make people’s lives better,” he said. “To let them know that there’s someone who will fight for them in Albany, not just some who will say ‘yeah, come into the office. We’ll take care of it,’ and it does not get done.”
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @luisgronda.