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the Campaign Trail

Voters in Queens and Brooklyn will go to the polls on Tuesday, June 26, to choose nominees for Congressional seats up for grabs in the November election.

In the weeks leading up to the contests, the Times Newsweekly/Ridgewood Times will feature in this column press releases and statements sent by the campaigns of the candidates on the ballot.

The statements in this column do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Times Newsweekly/Ridgewood Times or its staff. Mud-slinging statements which include personal attacks on candidates are omitted.

Rallying Around Meng’s Campaign

Over 100 community leaders, elected officials, activists and residents of the new Sixth Congressional District packed the campaign headquarters of Assemblywoman Grace Meng last Saturday to back her bid for Congress.

The attendees hailed Meng as a fighter for women’s rights, and called her the best candidate to advocate for women’s access to comprehensive health care, equal pay for equal work, and protecting women from violence. The rally was emceed by Council Member Karen Koslowitz, co-chair of Grace for New York.

“I am incredibly proud and honored to have the support of such a diverse, dynamic group of women,” Meng said. “While women represent over half of America’s population, we make up only 17 percent of Congress. That needs to change, and if elected I will make sure that the voices of those gathered here today, and so many women like them throughout our country, are more an equal part of the decision making that impacts all of our lives.”

At the rally, Meng received the endorsements of several prominent elected officials, including Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the chief sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment and former co-chair of the House Caucus on Women’s Issues.

“I need colleagues like Grace Meng fighting alongside me in Congress,” Maloney said. “Grace will bring a fresh new voice to help us break through the partisan logjam that has impeded our nation’s economic recovery, and she will hold the Republican House majority accountable for its continued hostility towards women’s rights.”

In addition to Maloney, elected leaders from throughout the city attended the rally to endorse Grace’s candidacy, including Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, State Sen. Liz Krueger, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, City Council Members Julissa Ferreras, Letitia James and Jessica Lappin and former City Council Member Melinda Katz.

The Amalgamatated Transportation Union (ATU) Local 1056 also endorsed Meng for the Sixth Congressional District seat last week at a press conference in Kew Gardens.

“Because of Grace’s longtime presence and support of our concerns and priority’s and her deep knowledge of the issues facing our membership, ATU 1056 finds that Assemblywoman Grace Meng best understands the pressing needs of the working people of Queens,” said Local 1056 President I. Daneek Miller. “We look forward to working with Grace in Congress. Grace exemplifies exactly what we need in Washington, D.C.-someone standing for our shared values, including preserving and maintaining public mass transit and a commitment to restoring core bus service.”

Lancman’s Plan To Stop Bldg. Violations

Assemblyman Rory Lancman, a candidate for Congress in New York’s Sixth Congressional District, stood with Queens civic leaders at Bowne Park in Flushing last Friday, May 18, to unveil the Homes and Essential Landmarks Preservation Act (HELP Act), a plan to combat overdevelopment at the federal level.

Despite more than one-third of the borough of Queens being contextually rezoned since 2002 to protect the character of its residential neighborhoods, as well as the creation of the R2A and R1-2A “anti-McMansion” zones-the lowest-density zones ever implemented in New York City-overdevelopment remains a persistent problem in the borough.

Lancman’s HELP Act relies on four key areas to combat overdevelopment and its consequences: (1) limiting tax deductions for homeowners & commercial property owners who are not in compliance with zoning laws; (2) promoting tax credits for properties listed in the National Historic Register; (3) linking Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding to a city or state’s record of zoning enforcement and rate of collections on violations; and (4) clarifying the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) to ensure that religious institutions do not use RLUIPA as a shield to ignore zoning regulations.

“Overdevelopment destroys the character of our communities,” Lancman said. “The HELP Act is a federal solution to the proliferation of Mc- Mansions, improperly-zoned offices, inappropriate commercial development and overly-large community facilities where single-family homes and small businesses once stood, and the desecration of historic sites and neighborhoods by developers who put profits ahead of the interest of residents.”

The HELP Act has four components. First, the HELP Act would prohibit any homeowner or business from obtaining certain tax credits if they are in violation of New York City zoning or building ordinances, ensuring that taxpayer funds do not assist overdevelopment in our neighborhoods.

Second, the HELP Act would also extend tax credits for rehabilitating non-income producing residential buildings that are listed on the National Historic Register. Currently, only commercial and income-producing properties listed on the Historic Register benefit from a 20 percent tax credit for property rehabilitation.

Third, in order to solve the city’s lack of enforcement of zoning and building violations, Lancman’s HELP Act would link federal HUD funding to a city’s ability to collect fines. Last year, New York City received over $915 million in direct funding from HUD-almost 1/3 of the New York City Housing Department’s operating budget.

Finally, the HELP Act would clarify the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Personas Act (RLUIPA) to protect communities that enact and enforce zoning ordinances that preserve the character of the community.

Two Labor Unions Support Crowley

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3 and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York have endorsed City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley in her bid to win the new Sixth Congressional District seat.

Local 3 is headquartered in Electchester, a cooperative apartment complex with more than 7,000 people within the Sixth Congressional District. The complex was first established by former Local 3 and New York City Central Labor Council leader Harry Van Arsdale Jr. in 1949. Local 3 represent 30,000 workers in New York City.

“Like Local 3, IBEW, Elizabeth Crowley is the right choice for the 6th Congressional District in Queens,” said Local 3 Business Manager Christopher Erikson. “She has always been a fighter for working families and a strong advocate for union members in the City Council, and I know that when Elizabeth goes to Washington she will deliver real results for her constituents. I’m proud to endorse her on behalf of the members of Local 3, and we will do everything to make sure Elizabeth Crowley becomes our next Congresswoman.”

“Local 3 has always fought for working class families not just in the union but throughout the City,” said Crowley. “Local 3 members, under the leadership of men like Harry Van Arsdale Jr., Thomas Van Arsdale, and Christopher Erikson, also gave back to the Queens community and provided housing and educational opportunities for Queens’ families. I am so proud to have the support of Local 3 and will work together with Local 3 members to make sure our government serves working class families’ needs in Queens.”

The Building and Construction Trades Council consists of local affiliates of 15 national and international unions representing 100,000 working men and women in New York City.

“As a building trades member, Elizabeth Crowley gets that we need to invest in our communities to create good jobs,” said Building and Construction Trades Council President Gary LaBarbera. “No one has been a better advocate for our unions and our workers than Elizabeth, and we’re proud to support her candidacy for Congress.”

Crowley has stressed the importance of investing in infrastructure projects to create jobs around the country. With President Obama’s decision to end the war in Afghanistan by 2014, the billions of dollars being spent on the war can be redirected to shore up projects in the United States. Thousands of new veterans will also be looking for work, and Council Member Crowley supports veteran job creation programs like Helmets to Hardhats, which helps veterans find good careers in building and construction trades.

“Congress needs to understand that smart investments in construction projects can create hundreds of jobs and spark future economic growth,” Crowley added. “I’m proud to stand with the working men and women who helped build this city, and I will continue fighting for the needs working families in Queens in Washington.”

Mittman Throws Hat Into Congress Race

After successfully battling his opponents for his right to appear on the June 26 ballot, Democrat Dr. Robert Mittman has launched his campaign for the Sixth Congressional District of New York.

Mittman was born and raised in the district he seeks to represent. He graduated from Cardozo High School and received his BA from Queens College, where he was elected and served as the President of the Student Body. After receiving his MD from Ross University, he specialized in Internal Medicine at Westchester County Medical Center, followed by his subspecialty training in Allergy and Immunology at the University of Cincinnati. Immediately following his years of education he returned to Bayside, to serve the people of his community.

Mittman expressed his desire to bring an independent voice to Washington, help stop excessive and wasteful government spending, move Healthcare reform in the right direction and help the economy get back on track.

“I decided to run for the United States Congress because I believe that our government is no longer working in the best interest of the people,” Mittman said. “Something is wrong in Washington and as a lifelong community resident, a parent, a voter and medical doctor I am here to offer a ‘Prescription for a Healthy Economy.'”

“I am not a career politician like all of my opponents. I’m a medical doctor who runs a practice on Bell Boulevard in Bayside,” he added. “As a doctor, I have been trained to diagnose an illness and prescribe the proper treatment. I will apply these same techniques as a representative in Congress. My candidacy gives the voters in the Sixth Congressional District a real alternative to politics as usual.”

Female Leaders Back Velázquez

Rep. Nydia Velázquez was endorsed for re-election by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Nita Lowey and a host of prominent women leaders.

Lowey was joined by City Council Members Margaret Chin, Rosie Mendez and Diana Reyna, and District Leader JoAnne Simon.

Gillibrand said, “We need more women’s voices at the decision making table in government. When women are at the table, we bring a different lens to a problem. While I have been encouraging more women to consider running for office themselves, it is equally important that we send extraordinary women like Nydia back to Washington to ensure her voice continues to be heard.”

Gillibrand credits Congresswoman Velazquez for originally bringing Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the senator’s attention and for her strong opposition to “a House Republican leadership that has undermined America’s women since the very first bill they introduced last year.”

Velázquez said, “It is truly a privilege to stand here with such an extraordinary group of progressive women. Women’s issues are at the forefront of Congressional debates and with such a small percentage of Congress still made up of women, our voices are needed at the table more than ever. We should be the ones making the decisions for women.”

Velázquez sits on the Financial Services Committee, and on the subcommittees on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit; Insurance, Housing, and Community Opportunity. She also serves as ranking member on the Small Business Committee.

Velázquez is a member of numerous Congressional caucuses key to advancing the interests of city residents including the Hispanic, Progressive, Women’s Issues, Census, Children, Jobs and Fair Trade, Human Rights, Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community (EZ/EC), Older American and Urban Caucuses.

As noted, only voters who are registered with a party may vote in that party’s primary election on June 26 (Democratic voters may only vote in the Democratic primary; Republican voters may only vote in the Republican primary, etc.).

For more information on voting or to obtain a voting registration application, contact the New York City Board of Elections at 1-212-VOTENYC or visit www.vote.nyc.ny.us.

Press representatives of candidates may send their information to this paper by fax to 1-718-456-0120 or e-mail to info@times newsweekly.com. All releases are subject to editing.

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