By Adam Kramer
City Councilman Alfonso Stabile (R-Ozone Park) had run a nearly invisible campaign for the borough presidency until recently, but the Republican contender has begun making political noise of late and thinks he has a good shot at the post.
Stabile, a retired sanitation worker who has represented the 32nd Council District, which stretches from Ozone Park to the Rockaways and from Howard Beach to Woodhaven, since 1994, thinks he can be the first Republican borough president in many years.
Similar to his opponent, City Councilwoman Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst) — who hopes to be the first black elected to a boroughwide office — Stabile has campaigned on improving the Queens educational system, economic development and illegal housing. But he also has suggested bringing gambling to the Rockaways and having Queens’ businesses take a more active role in schools.
Stabile, who is prevented from seeking re-election to the City Council because of term limits, said he made his decision to run about four years ago because he was unhappy with the way “Queens was being serviced.” He described the borough as the tale of two cities with northern Queens and southern Queens occupying two different worlds.
“Northeast Queens has beautifully paved streets, the parks are all up to date, the sewer system is excellent all around, they get great services,” Stabile said. “If you go more west, it still gets better, but once you cross over the Van Wyck and the Grand Central, it starts to change. If you look at Springfield Gardens, it has had floods there for 20 years and it took this administration to change it.”
Stabile, whose campaign got off to a slow start because of his chronic knee problems and his father’s illness, said the borough president has to serve all of Queens without any dividing lines. Some of the issues that have arisen over the past few years, Stabile said, made him realize that Queens needs a borough president who “is blind to color, blind to nationality and blind to religion.”
Queens industry should take a more active role in educational funding, he said. Stabile called on the Port Authority and the two major watch companies in the borough — Armitron and Bulova — to build a maritime high school and donate computer equipment.
The recent economic downturn has hurt business throughout the city, he stressed, and he said he wants to work toward promoting more economic development in Queens.
“We need businesses in Queens and we have to encourage them,” Stabile said. “We have had people that have gone to New Jersey and Connecticut. Why not Long Island City? Why not give incentives to get business to stay here? I am all for tax incentives.”
The borough needs affordable housing, Stabile said. The problem right now, he said, is illegal housing, but people cannot be thrown out on the street.
He said a major economic boost could come from introducing gambling, which fellow Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani supports as a means to improve the city’s economy.
“I would definitely push for gambling, and I know the place,” Stabile said. “I would bring it to the Rockaways where there is a beautiful beachfront that would invite people of all ages.”
He said the area could support it and he would build a theme park, a water park and hotels. He said the project would generate a tremendous number of jobs in Queens.
Stabile resigned from the Ozone-Howard Little League earlier this year after news reports said he was suspected of stealing funds from the organization. But the councilman said he stepped down because of time constraints.
“To this day I have never been contacted by the Queens district attorney,” he said.
Stabile said he will “be vindicated.”
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.