By Nathan Duke
Paul Vallone may be no stranger to political campaigns, but his bid for City Councilman Tony Avella’s (Dâˆ’Bayside) seat in this fall’s upcoming election could be the first to enable him to join in a long family tradition.
Vallone, grandson of Judge Charles Vallone, son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and younger brother of Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (Dâˆ’Astoria), will officially open his campaign office at 26th Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard in Bayside on May 29. He said he hopes to accompany his brother, who will also run for reâˆ’election this fall, to the City Council chambers next year.
“I’m part of a family that’s been doing this for three generations,” said Vallone, who lives in Flushing and manages his family’s Astoriaâˆ’based law firm. “My father and grandfather taught me about community service. So I’ve always wanted to be an elected official.”
Vallone’s Democratic opponents in the race include Jerry Iannece, Debra Markell, Steve Behar and Tom Cooke. Dan Halloran is the only Republican running for the seat, which covers Bayside, Auburndale, Little Neck, Oakland Gardens, College Point, Douglaston, East Flushing, Malba and Whitestone.
Avella, who was first elected in 2001 and does not intend to seek a third term in the Council, is currently running in the mayoral race against Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Vallone said he would focus on a number of issues during his campaign, including public safety, retaining the district’s quality of life, placing a moratorium on real estate tax hikes amid the economic downturn, cutting down on truck traffic in residential areas, obtaining more control for parents in community schools and taking an active role in the ongoing Willets Point redevelopment project, as well as ensuring that businesses moved out of the Iron Triangle are not all relocated to College Point.
He said keeping neighborhood streets safe and fighting overdevelopment would be key components of his agenda as councilman.
“Locally, we have to look at public safety first and foremost,” said Vallone, whose brother is the chairman of the Council Public Safety Committee. “If we cannot staff the 109th and 111th precincts, everything around us will crumble. We need to increase security. But we also need to protect our quality of life. At every civic meeting, you hear people say, ‘Save my home, save my block.’ We want to preserve our community.”
He said he would also fight for a freeze on real estate taxes while the nation’s economy continues to struggle.
“Many seniors in Queens are on fixed incomes,” he said. “We have to make sure they can afford to stay in the district.”
Another focus of his campaign would be to not only make sure that the district’s schools are among the best in the city, but also to give parents of students more of a say in how schools are governed.
“I think parents want more involvement,” he said. “I think we should keep the mayor in control of the schools, but I also think we need to make sure that parents are not shut out of the process.”
Vallone, who has worked for the city Board of Correction and currently works as an attorney, said he also has a long history of participation in communityâˆ’based organizations, such as the Long Island City Kiwanis Club, the Variety Boys and Girls Club and Astoria’s Community Board 1, of which he was formerly a member.
As of midâˆ’March, he had raised $95,568 and spent $49,368 in his campaign, according to city campaign finance records.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by eâˆ’mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 156.