BY JOE MARVILLI
A former member of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration has announced his bid for City Council.
Austin Shafran, who recently served as the Governor’s Vice President of Public Affairs for the State’s economic development agency, has thrown his name into the ring for the City Council seat of District 19. He will run as a Democrat.
While his last few years have been spent with the Cuomo administration, Shafran’s experience extends much further back. Born and raised in Bayside where he still lives, the candidate began his career as the Community Liaison to former Congressman Gary Ackerman. This was followed by a stint as the Director of Communications for the then-City Council Budget Chair, Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck).
If elected to City Council, Shafran said he hopes to bring his experience in Cuomo’s office down to the City level.
“I played a leading role in Governor Cuomo’s efforts to make the State work better and cost less and produce more for taxpayers,” he said. “Now, I want to put that experience to work for our community.”
One of his platforms is stimulating the economy in Northeast Queens, particularly by helping middle class families and small businesses. During his time with the Governor, Shafran helped administer over $1 billion in small business assistance programs. He also worked on the Fair Share Tax Reform, which restructured the State tax code and gave a tax cut for more than four million middle class taxpayers.
Through this and other reforms, Shafran said he helped reduce the tax rate for middle class families to its lowest amount in 60 years and gave footing to thousands of new small businesses.
“We’ve created more of a community-based, performance-driven approach to job creation and small business development that recognizes small businesses as the economic engines of prosperous communities and strong economies,” he said. “That’s the kind of common sense approach that I’ve learned from working with the Governor’s office that I think City government has been sorely lacking.”
Although he has achieved much with Cuomo’s office, Shafran believes that the City Council could be just as helpful to the Queens communities at a local level by providing critical services.
“If economic opportunity is a ladder for growth, the City Council can certainly be the rungs on that ladder helping both families and businesses achieve new heights,” he said.
As the son of two former New York City school teachers, education is also one of the top platforms for Shafran. He sees a link between innovation, entrepreneurship and an education-based economy and believes that greater resources are needed to support students and teachers. An increase in parental involvement is also a necessary factor in the classroom.
“I understand the value of a quality education,” he said. “It’s a moral obligation to train the next generation of leaders.”
Running in the Democratic primary for District 19 as well is John Duane, Matthew Silverstein and Paul Vallone. Whoever wins the primary would go on to challenge Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone).
Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.