By Anna Gustafson
State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) kicked off his bid for the seat he has held since 1972 amid more than 200 supporters at his campaign headquarters in Bayside this week.
At his re-election launch Sunday, Padavan said his campaign will focus on addressing the state’s $9.5 billion budget deficit, curbing government spending and continuing to advocate for strong education and constituent services for residents in the 11th Senate District.
Former City Councilman Tony Avella, a Democrat, has also announced his candidacy for the 11th Senate District, which covers Bellerose, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Jamaica Estates, New Hyde Park, Floral Park, Whitestone, College Point and Hollis.
“We’ve always made a difference and we’ll continue to make a difference,” Padavan said at the re-election launch Sunday that was attended by a bevy of high-profile officials from the Republican, Independence and Conservative parties.
Padavan was first elected to the Senate in 1972 and narrowly defeated Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) in the 2008 election. Many of those attending Sunday’s event lauded the legislator for working with all constituents, regardless of their party affiliation.
“Sen. Padavan has delivered more for this district than anyone else,” Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) said. “While he’s a conservative Republican, he always votes his conscience.”
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, a Republican running for U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) seat, also praised Padavan’s approach to governing.
“He’s a real fighter for the community,” Maragos said. “He’s served them extremely well.”
Queens County Republican Chairman Phil Ragusa called Padavan the “quintessential legislator” who never fails to address a problem, even if he cannot always solve it.
“He has the best constituent services probably in the state,” Ragusa said. “When Dan Halloran got elected, he sent his staff to Frank’s office to learn the ropes.”
Michael Niebauer, chair of the Queens Independence Party, and Tom Long, chairman of the Queens Conservative Party, said their organizations have long thrown their support behind Padavan and will continue to do so.
“It’s very easy to access him,” Niebauer said of Padavan. “When there’s a problem, he addresses it. He’s a hands-on elected official.”
Padavan said he plans to continue to address the state’s approximate $9.5 billion budget deficit, part of which he said stems from a culture of “one-party dominance.” The senator did agree with state Comptroller Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat running for governor, that the state should consolidate various state agencies “who are tripping over each other” to save money.
“We also have 772 school districts, some with as few as 200 schoolchildren, and that should be changed,” Padavan said. “We’re spending $1 billion on Medicaid a week. That needs to be changed.”
The Bellerose lawmaker said he plans to fight for education funding so budget cuts would not decimate Queens programs and he promised to continue the constituent services for which he has been praised.
“I’m an engineer by profession and engineers are trained to solve problems,” Padavan said. “We don’t always succeed, but we have a good track record.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.