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Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS

BY ANTHONY GIUDICE, ANGELA MATUA AND SUZANNE MONTEVERDI

Queens residents are hitting the polls today to vote on a number of important positions and ballot proposals.

In addition to choosing the next mayor, public advocate, comptroller, City Council members and judges, three important proposals are also on the ballot. Proposition 1, an initiative that would open the state constitution to amendments, will be voted on.

Proposal 2 would allow judges to reduce or revoke the pensions of public officials who have been convicted of felonies on the job. Proposal 3, which pertains to the Adirondacks and Catskills, asks voters if the state should establish a 250-acre land bank.

We spoke to voters in Glendale, Bayside and Corona about the main issues driving them to vote and what they would like officials to improve.

Glendale is getting out to vote today on many of the issues facing the local communities, and the city as a whole.

One main point of concern for several of the voters at P.S. 91 in Glendale is Proposition 1, which is a vote on whether or not New York State should hold a constitutional convention.

During a “Con Con,” as it is being called, elected delegates gather to propose changes to the state constitution. Voters would then have the chance to vote on these changes on Nov. 5, 2019. The opportunity to vote on a constitutional convention comes around only once every 20 years.

“I voted no on all of the proposals,” said Sister Colleen from St. Pancras. “It’s too important not to vote.”

Elvin Crespo, a Glendale resident, was also concerned about Prop. 1 as a constitutional convention may affect his pension.

Crespo also has his eye on the city’s subway system as a major concern, “especially the M train, and what is going to happen to the L train.”

Another voter who declined to give her name is concerned about the city’s mass transit system because of the well-documented struggles straphangers have had in recent years with congested roadways and train delays and shutdowns.

The city’s homelessness crisis, which has made headlines for over a year, is in the forefront of many voters’ minds as they hit the polls today, and Glendale is no exception, especially since the city still has its eyes on a former industrial site in the neighborhood for a homeless shelter.

Glendale resident Joseph Salluzzo is concerned with the city’s property taxes, an issue brought up often by mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis.

Another man from Glendale, who declined to give his name, is voting for city’s education system, and fiscal solvency for the city.

“I have children in school in the gifted and talented program, and the mayor seems to be going against that,” he said. “And I don’t like the direction the city seems to be spending money.”

Polling sites will be open until 9 p.m. in New York City, and anyone online before that time will get to cast their vote.

Bayside

A light, late-morning crowd quickly filtered in and out of the polling site at Bayside High School on Corporal Kennedy Street on Nov. 7.

Voter Barbara Chin told QNS she has been following the local City Council race over the last few months and decided to vote for Paul Graziano, who is challenging incumbent candidate Paul Vallone in District 19.

“I think we need a change,” Chin said. “I think just because you’re a Democrat — and I am a Democrat — there shouldn’t be an automatic endorsement. And I’m hearing about another candidate who is trying very hard to really do something in the community.”

Chin said she also voted “no” to having a Constitutional Convention, which she said “sounded like it would be very expensive.” She said the benefits of having it take place were unclear to her.

Stewart Hamilton, who said she and her family come out to vote on every Election Day, spoke about the ballot proposal on the Constitutional Convention.

“As much as I’d really like reform, I’m not sure that that’s the right answer for us right now,” Hamilton said. “And to be adding tax dollars — especially at a time when the tax codes might be changing, and New York is specifically going to be hit — we can’t afford it.”

The Bayside resident also spoke in favor of Ballot Proposal 3, which permits the construction of bike paths and utility lines on some roadways that cross protected land by creating a “land bank” to account for the lost public land. However, “she’ll be watching very carefully, because it can be very easy to abuse that power.”

And, while she did not closely follow the local City Council race, she felt confident in her vote for incumbent candidate Paul Vallone.

Longtime Bayside resident Jean Giancarlo said the mayoral race and the Constitutional Convention were the most important ballot items for her. She supported the incumbent candidate, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and voted “no” on the Convention.

The tumultuous national political climate made it difficult for her to focus in on the local City Council race, Giancarlo added.

Corona

LeFrak City, a housing complex in Corona, made headlines recently when the state Board of Elections voted to move a 50-year-old polling site at the complex to a neighboring high school for the primaries in September.

Community leaders filed a lawsuit against the BOE and a judge ruled on Oct. 27 that the site at the Continental Room at 96-10 57th Ave. be restored.

Vernell Cromartie, who has lived in LeFrak City since 1990, said she was happy to see the site restored.

“That would be a tragedy for me because I’m in the next building here and that means I would have to cross Queens Boulevard [to vote at the new site],” she said. “I just turned 67 and I just retired so I don’t want to be running all over the place.”

Andre Dambrano, a LeFrak City resident of 27 years, said he voted in this election because he thinks New Yorkers “could use better leadership as far as our mayor.”

“I think de Blasio did a lot of good stuff for the government, for the city but I think he could do better,” he said. “Therefore, I believe there are people who can do way better.”

He also believes that public transportation needs to be improved.

“The city has invested a lot of money in the MTA and the public’s not seeing any results,” he said. “There’s still delays on the trains. I don’t take public transportation, but my family does and it’s a hassle for them.”

Dembrano, a public servant, said he voted no for Proposition 1 because he believes his pension is at risk if the state holds a constitutional convention.

“I’m a public servant and the fact that they’re looking to reduce our pension — it doesn’t only affect me; it affects my family and kids,” he said.

Susanna Usei, who has lived in LeFrak City for 22, years said the main issue she cares about is rent. Usei added that her rent has increased in the complex but improvements have not been made. Management does not respond to request for maintenance quickly enough, she said.

“The rent is too high,” she said. “They don’t do any maintenance.”

Usei voted yes to the constitutional convention, arguing that amendments need to be made to the document, which was last amended in 1967. Usei said criminal justice reform was the main reason she voted yes to Proposition 1 and would like to see changes in terms of the number of black people sentenced to prison for minor infractions.

Polls close at 9 p.m. and QNS will update readers on results as they become live.

Comments:

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Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. November 10, 2017 / 06:31PM
It's too bad the mass transit crisis is not the major priority for all citywide election races.
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