Melinda Katz, New Borough President
A former City Councilwoman and State Assemblywoman has big shoes to fill come Jan. 1.
She won comfortably in November, defeating little-known Republican challenger Tony Arcabascio with just over 80 percent of the vote.
Katz has a wealth of experience that she will take with her to Borough Hall.
She was in the City Council from 2002 to 2009, representing several neighborhoods in central and western Queens, including Forest Hills, Rego Park and Kew Gardens. Katz also served as chair of the Council’s Land Use Committee, which is considered one of the top positions within the Council.
Before that, she worked in the Queens Borough President’s office as Director of Community Boards under Claire Shulman. She was also a member of the State Assembly from 1994 to 1999.
While in the Council, she oversaw many rezoning projects throughout the City, including one in Jamaica. While in the Assembly, she wrote 16 bills that were passed into law and was the chairwoman of the Assembly’s sub-committee on urban health.
Her campaign focused on promising to bring more resources and money back to Queens as well as continue to boost the emerging arts and technology scene in western Queens.
– Luis Gronda
Constantinides Will Serve Astoria
In January, Costa Constantinides will replace Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria).
Constantinides has assisted on key legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to protect wetlands and to improve the quality of drinking water.
Now the first Greek-American City Councilman, Constantinides said District 22, which encompasses Astoria, Long Island City, Rikers, Randalls and Wards Islands, “is a very beautiful place to love and a neighborhood that is a reflection of the world.”
Even though Constantinides spent many years serving the northern part of Queens with Gennaro, he has lived in Astoria his whole life.
He said when it comes to issues pertaining to northern and western Queens, there are some differences, but “everyone wants the same things – making sure there kids have good schools, the neighbors wants quality of life and for every neighborhood to grow with a business district.”
One of his top priorities is to expand and improve healthcare for Astoria by adding small community health clinics in the district.
Other priorities on Constantinides’ list include adding more police officers and firefighters to the public service taskforce.
In talks about the past and future, Constantinides said “the Vallone family served us with distinction.”
Rory Lancman Returns To Work
While the residents of district 24 may be losing a councilman with 12 years of work under his belt, they have voted in an experienced official to replace him.
Lancman is no stranger to this part of Queens, as he has lived in the 24th Council District for 38 years. He attended Hillcrest High School and Queens College, both of which fit in the district’s borders. He served on Community Board 8 for 16 years and chaired the Queens Hospital Center Community Advisory Board for five years.
Elected to the State Assembly in 2006, Lancman focused on keeping the citizens of New York safe, whether the threats came from the workplace, crime or terrorism.
He was the author of the Juvenile Justice Worker Protection Act, which requires private juvenile justice programs and facilities to comply with the State Workplace Violence Prevention Law. He issued reports and held hearings on H1N1 flu in the workplace.
In terms of homeland security, Lancman’s legislation included the Freedom to Report Terrorism Act, which shields citizens who report suspicious behavior from lawsuits, and the Public Servant Soldier Salary Act, which makes the City to pay employees called to active military duty the difference in salary between their military pay and city pay while deployed.
Daneek Miller To Replace Comrie
Though he admits that he has some big shoes to fill, Daneek Miller, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056, said he is ready to replace the term-limited Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) next year.
“I plan on continuing some of the great work that he [Comrie] has done,” Miller said. “I just want to be able to enhance what he’s done. I am excited and really anxious to begin the actual work. We are already working on transition.”
Miller’s road to victory was not always a smooth one. On Primary night, the union head beat out five Democratic challengers in the hotly contested race.
In a March interview with the Tribune, Miller said he hopes to become the missing voice for the working families in the redrawn council district.
“We are a community of working people who by and large struggle, like working people across the City,” he said.
Miller, who said he never really thought about entering the political landscape, did so at the suggestion of Comrie. Honored by the suggestion, Miller made the decision to run for council last summer.
His predecessor has all the faith that Miller will do a great job serving the constituents of Council District 27.
“I think the future under Councilman Miller will be spectacular. I have every confidence that he has the abilities to be an effective and aggressive councilmember,” Comrie said. “He has the skill set to be a great councilmember. He’s a great listener, a tireless worker, he likes to engage people and understands this is a 24/7 job.”