On Thursday, May 30th, 2013, Senator Tony Avella endorsed Paul Graziano's candidacy to become the next Councilmember for the 19th District, which includes Auburndale, Bayside, Bay Terrace, College Point Douglaston, Little Neck, North Flushing and Whitestone.
Avella stated that he was endorsing "not only a good friend but a great community activist and somebody that I really look forward to doing a great job as the next Councilmember for the 19th Council District."
Describing his extensive qualifications, Avella touched on Graziano's decades of community service, especially zoning, landmarking and preservation issues, which have historically been some of the biggest concerns to the residents of the 19th Council District.
"Given the last council member, who unfortunately was elected to represent this district and has done his very best to undermine some of the work that Paul and I did, I'm so happy to support Paul because I know that all the things that I worked on as Councilmember he will continue and even go further - not only the zoning, but the landmarking, preservation, road construction and other issues - you name it he's been involved in it."
"He knows the process, he knows city government, he knows the community - I can't think of anybody else, personally, to represent this Council District," Avella stated, "So I'm happy to endorse you. I wish you well and you'll be a great Councilmember and I will do everything I can to get you elected."
In response, Graziano thanked Avella for his support and stated that in the 19th Council District "our focus on constituent needs and services, focus on this district's interests, are really simple: Overdevelopment, is the number one issue, followed by Education, the number two issue, followed by Quality of Life issues, which is really your constituent services...There's a lot of other issues that are important, too. I look forward to working on them with Tony when he's the Borough President."
The entire press conference can be viewed here:
TRANSCRIPT OF SENATOR TONY AVELLA'S ENDORSEMENT OF CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE PAUL GRAZIANO - MAY 30th, 2013
I'm happy to stand here and endorse not only a good friend but a great community activist and somebody that I really look forward to doing a great job as the next Councilmember for the 19th Council District.
I could probably stand here for the next day and a half telling you about all the projects that he has helped me with. I mean, first and foremost of course, he helped me design the new R2A zoning category. He helped me design - and did design - outlined the entire rezoning for the 19th Council District, which I then used to persuade City Planning to rezone this whole area.
You can't put a price tag on the value of the quality of life that has been improved because of those rezonings, and this is one of the few districts in the City of New York where, you can't say stopped completely, but at least we have slowed down dramatically the deteriorating quality of life in terms of overdevelopment. Of course, there's always much more that needs to be done, but accomplishing that rezoning was a tremendous victory for every resident in this council district, and I couldn't have done it without him. And, whenever there's a zoning issue - no matter where it is, whether it's Queens or some other borough - I call upon Paul and he always takes time out to look at the plans, give me suggestions and also work with the civic groups. Irrespective of him working with me, he's worked with, I think, almost every civic group in the borough. They all know him, they all like him, they all support him - he will be a great council member.
Given the last council member, who unfortunately was elected to represent this district and has done his very best to undermine some of the work that Paul and I did, I'm so happy to support Paul because I know that all the things that I worked on as Councilmember he will continue and even go further - not only the zoning, but the landmarking, preservation, road construction and other issues - you name it he's been involved in it. He knows the process, he knows city government, he knows the community - I can't think of anybody else, personally, to represent this Council District.
So I'm happy to endorse you. I wish you well and you'll be a great Councilmember and I will do everything I can to get you elected.
Thank you, Tony. Ill just say a couple of things. I'm really have to thank Tony for all of the help, not only when he was in the Council but obviously in the State Senate as well and I look forward to him being Borough President of Queens.
It's a very interesting race that's going on there, as many of you know. I think both of us are the good government, anti-politician caucus here, and we're both also not what you would describe as long-shots, so I think that's very important for people to realize. There are people who are great people who really don't have a chance to get elected. I believe that not only does Tony have a chance to get elected, he's got an extremely good chance of being elected, and I believe I have a very good chance of being elected in this district from the work that I've done and the work that Tony's done over the years.
Again, it's funny because people come up to me and say '"You and Tony are a lot alike.' I think we have very similar goals. I think we have different styles, but that's normal, because we're different people.
Basically, I think our focus on constituent needs and services, focus on this district's interests, are really simple: Overdevelopment, is the number one issue, followed by Education, the number two issue, followed by Quality of Life issues, which is really your constituent services. Those are really the three big issues. There's a lot of other issues that are important, too. I look forward to working on them with Tony when he's the Borough President. There's is nobody out there who will do a better job in the Borough Presidency than Tony and I say that in all seriousness. That might have some people who are supporting other candidates laugh at that, but if you speak to almost every civic leader in Queens, they will tell you that Senator Avella - soon to be Borough President Avella - is the best choice that we have and the best chance that we have to change things that need to be changed. here.
So - I'm looking forward to running with you and supporting you as well. We have about three months now until D-Day, and we're both going to run to the end. Any questions?
Do you guys plan on campaigning together, making stops, doing press conferences together?
I'm sure we will. Obviously until the end of June, I'm going to be tied up in Albany. He'll be campaigning in the district. But, we'll be campaigning together in the Council District. I'll obviously be around the borough. This is a crucial election beyond who the next mayor is going to be because of the Borough Presidency, the Council Districts. They're going to determine, for most likely the next 8 years, who's going to represent the people of Queens, and certainly in the 19th Council District.
I started out as a community activist; Paul started out as a community activist. That's where people should come from who run for political office. It shouldn't be people who come out of the political clubhouse, just because they happen to be the next in line. They shouldn't be people who are running on a family name. Why not have people who really earned their stripes, so to speak, working in the community because they care about the community? I think Paul is that type of person - again, that's how I started.
The way I describe myself is that I'm a democrat with a small 'd' - I didn't belong to any clubs until about a week ago, but now I am a member of the Michels Democratic Club which is a small independent club in College Point. I have no relationship with County. I feel, should I get elected, I will deal with whatever I need to deal with in order to get what I need for my district.
I believe I'm different from the other people running in this race. I'm the only one who's not affiliated or has a position as a state committee person or district leader or with a particular club, except for the Michels club, which is very recent. My background in community activism is 20 full years. 20 years, I've been doing this and, actually, effectively. I'm running on my record.
Well - he has a record, a very good record.
I couldn't think of anybody better to work with and run with. I know this is a 'love-fest' but it's the truth. I've worked with many elected officials, and many of them did the right thing, but they did it for political gain, they did it for a reason that was for an outcome that would benefit them politically. It was great that they were doing the right thing, but the 'math' wasn't right. They should be doing the right thing to do the right thing. Tony's one of the few people that I've worked with who's doing the right thing for the right reasons. Something you [Tony] said to me a long time ago: I'm doing the right thing and I don't care what the consequences are.
And I still say that.
Right. So I'm very similar in that outlook, for sure. Any other comments, questions?
Do you have any advice for him?
I don't think I have to give him advice. I can't tell you how many people I've spoken to over the years and it probably goes back now 35-40 years that I've been involved in the community who want to run for political office and I always tell them to get involved in the community - and they never do! It's amazing - they never do. I don't have to give him that advice because he's already done it. That's why I'm proud to be here endorsing him with no reservations whatsoever.
END OF TRANSCRIPT