By Howard Koplowitz
Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich, running in the special election for state Assembly against former City Councilman David Weprin, painted himself as an out-of-the-box thinking civic leader and a better alternative to Weprin, whom he characterized as “more of the same.”
“With me, you’re going to get somebody who will stand up to [state Assembly Speaker] Sheldon Silver [D-Manhattan] or the Republican leader. With David, we get more of the same.”
“People do want change. We see what’s going on in Albany. The status quo is not okay,” Friedrich said during an interview Monday with TimesLedger Newspapers editors and reporters.
Friedrich said the state is insolvent and the state Legislature is “totally dysfunctional.”
He chastised state leaders for “squandering $700 million” when they failed to pass charter school legislation.
“It’s like the state Legislature is out of control,” Friedrich said.
The Glen Oaks Village president and self-described civic leader said Weprin has “a legacy of crippling tax increases and excessive fees,” claiming Weprin voted to increase property taxes 18 percent and increases to sales taxes twice as chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee.
“That, to me, is not an agenda for working families,” Friedrich said.
Friedrich said he has a “whole background in civic involvement,” saying he lifted Glen Oaks Village from the brink of bankruptcy, is involved in trying to protect communities from over-development and rallied to keep the Food Dynasty supermarket open in Queens Village.
“I have a long record of accomplishments in the community,” Friedrich said, which included changing Glen Oaks Village from a transient community to a more stable environment. “I’ve been fully engaged in the community.”
Although a registered Democrat, Friedrich is running on the Republican line in the Feb. 9 special election because he said GOP leaders asked him to mount a campaign. But Friedrich described his ideals as “transcending party labels” and considers himself more of an independent.
“I have been a hands-on community leader and I’m trying to bring my brand of leadership to the state Legislature,” Friedrich said.
As for what he views as key issues, Friedrich said the state needs to rein in spending.
“I think the budget needs to be in balance. We have to control spending,” he said.
Friedrich said if the budget were up to him, he would enact across-the-board cuts. He said he would form two categories — essential services and non-essential services — and however much non-essential services are cut, essential services would be slashed half that amount.
As far as Metropolitan Transportation Authority cuts, Friedrich said the agency needs to rethink its route structures. For instance, he said the agency should have circular routes instead of parallel ones.
He also said the MTA should use smaller buses on smaller routes, which would be more fuel-efficient.
In areas where there is Long Island Rail Road service but no subways, Friedrich said the LIRR should be priced the same as subways.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.