BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
The son of Italian immigrants and union workers, Aurelio “Tony” Arcabascio, vying for the Queens Borough President seat on the Republican line, visited the Queens Tribune to sit down with the editorial board on Oct. 14.
Some of the topics discussed included his top priorities, immigration, education, the Stop and Frisk policy, technology, the Willets Point development project and Community Board members.
A life-long lover of Queens, Arcabascio said he has experience in the technology sector and business for the last 33 years.
After college, Arcabascio played a year of minor league baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals and worked at General Electric. Later, he owned Crimson Technologies for 13 years. Currently, he is a Team Lead Project Manager for North Shore Long Island Jewish-Health System in the IT/infrastructure perspective.
He ran against State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) in 2012 because he said “Democrats shouldn’t be the only one running and once in a while, they should be opposed.”
At the time, he garnered 15 percent of the vote.
As Queens Borough President, his priorities will be better education, healthcare, overall better quality of life, beautification efforts, redeveloping empty warehouses to create urban enterprise zones and creating a small business satellite office in the Borough, so employers do not have to travel to the Manhattan to process their paperwork.
“The quicker we get them up and running, the quicker we start collecting taxes,” Arcabascio said.
Arcabascio said he wants to give incentives to business owners, like one year tax cuts.
“My job for the 2.3 million people is to lean on the pockets of the people,” Arcabascio said. “I am a people’s candidate.”
Arcabascio said his priority on day one is to assess the real state of Queens, so he can define the resources or get rid of the ones the Borough President’s office does not need.
In terms of appointing a Deputy Borough President, he said he wants someone who is knowledgeable of politics and has legislative experience. Arcabascio said he has spoken to two Democrats about the position.
When the Arcabascio family of five first moved to Astoria, Arcabascio said his parents had to borrow money to come to this country. His father was a laborer and his mother was a seamstress.
Arcabascio said he understands assimilating to a new culture is difficult, especially because of the language barrier.
“We can’t accommodate everyone, but we have to be sensitive to the language barrier,” he said. “If I have any major impact as Queens Borough President, it’s for us to be more tolerant and accepting.”
When it comes to spreading the word about his campaign, Arcabascio said he does not have scripted routines when he goes to events. In terms of his social media campaign, he said he posts on Twitter and Facebook himself.
“You can’t say something that will make everybody happy, but the important thing is, whatever you say, they believe you and it’s the truth,” he said.
Arcabascio said he does not agree with Democratic candidate Melinda Katz’s proposal to build a tech center in Long Island City because it is too close to the waterfront and the rent for the luxury high-towers is too high for young adults to afford. Instead, he said he wants to renovate buildings in Maspeth, so it too can grow like the other parts of Western Queens.
On the topic of Stop and Frisk, he said the police are doing their jobs to prevent crimes, but “sometimes we have bad cops making bad stops.” He said even though he is not a public safety expert, but having some knowledge of criminal justice, more cops need to walk their beats to understand their communities better, instead of riding in patrol cars.
Arcabascio promised to revamp the Queens Borough President website and upgrade Borough Hall.
On a final note, he said he would like the World’s Fair to come back to Queens.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.