When you think of northeast Queens today, a few sites immediately come to mind – the Queens County Farm Museum, Alley Pond Environmental Center, Fort Totten and Udall’s Cove to name a few.
All of these locations – and many others throughout area – also have another thing in common. They undoubtedly benefited from the leadership of State Senator Frank Padavan.
Now, Padavan, a Republican who has represented District 11 in the State Senate since 1972, is gearing up for another campaign, this time against a familiar name in northeast Queens politics – former Councilmember Tony Avella.
“We’re confident, but we’re not taking anything for granted,” Padavan said. “We’ll run a tough, aggressive campaign like we always have when we have had these kinds of races.”
For the second year in a row, Democrats will target Padavan’s senate seat, which is the only Republican seat in the borough, this time with the hopes of the Democrats holding onto their slim 32-30 majority in the Senate.
In 2008, Padavan narrowly defeated City Councilmember James Gennaro, but that election, like the 11th Senate District overall, may have defied the traditional political landscape.
The 11th Senate District currently contains roughly 92,000 registered Democrats, 32,000 Republicans and 35,000 Independents, according to Padavan; however, he has been able to hold onto his seat for nearly 40 years. Last year, Barack Obama received 70 percent of the votes in Padavan’s district, but Padavan still held onto his seat.
“Under any circumstances I should have been blown away,” said Padavan, who estimated that roughly 20,000 Democrats crossed over and voted for him in the election.
During his career, Padavan has authored roughly 700 bills including landmark legislation such as New York’s Criminal Asset Forfeiture Law and New York’s Community Residence Site Selection Law, which required sponsors to notify the public when a group home has been proposed in the neighborhood and permit localities to offer alternatives. This law became known as the “Padavan Law.”
Padavan also said it’s important for the state to not be controlled by one party and that the “Democratic Party in this state has demonstrated, in terms of its leadership, a propensity to do things that are not in the best interests of the people of this state.”
Although Padavan expects the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee to make his seat one of their top targets, dumping money and resources into the race, he believes his record of delivering for the people of the district will win out.
“My constituents and I have a love affair that goes back a long time, and we’re going to continue that,” Padavan said.