By William Lewis
In the 15th state Senate district in western Queens, the Republican Party at the county and state levels is dedicated to recapturing that seat from state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), who won the office from conservative Republican Serf Maltese in 2008 after Maltese had held the seat for 20 years.
There is a Republican primary developing, however, between two candidates for that seat. These candidates are City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), of the 32nd District in southwest Queens, and attorney Juan Reyes of Forest Hills.
The Republican county organization has endorsed Reyes over Ulrich. During the last few years, Reyes has worked for private law firms, mainly in real estate law. He indicated that in this capacity he has acquired extensive knowledge of zoning, building codes and interpretations of real estate applications of law.
Earlier in his career he worked as counsel in the office of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, during which time he prosecuted matters against multinational real estate corporations. Reyes also worked for the city Board of Standards and Appeals, which interprets laws pertaining to zoning, building and fire codes.
On the political front, Reyes worked on the presidential campaign of former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole as a political and legal adviser. He has also served with the Republican National Committee and worked on the campaigns of former Gov. George Pataki and Giuliani.
Pertaining to his candidacy for the 15th Senate District, Reyes grew up in Queens and believes he can represent the people of his district. He believes he has a more pro-business attitude than his opponent and that the main issue in the campaign is creating more jobs for the economy. In that area, he has indicated he would be more effective than his adversaries.
In his first priority in office, Reyes believes over-regulation is driving business out of New York state, so he would promote legislation to encourage businesses to stay in our state and provide more employment for New York residents.
As a state senator, Reyes would play an active role in keeping in communication with the people in his district. Reyes said the people of his district are overburdened with property taxes and fees. He wants to encourage tax relief.
Reyes, having worked in the Giuliani administration, supports strong efforts to curb crime. He believes Giuliani did a lot to bring down crime. In that regard, Reyes supports the NYPD’s effort to get guns off streets and stop crimes before they are committed by using stop-and-frisk in regards to possible criminal activity.
He believes the safety of our citizens comes first before other considerations. It is hoped that before the Sept. 13 primary between Reyes and Ulrich that several debates can take place so voters of the 15th District can have the opportunity to hear the candidates.
The 15th District will be an important election from the standpoint that it may have a bearing on which political party controls the Senate. Both political parties will be making an all-out effort to win this election.
In the recently concluded race for the U.S. Senate in the Republican Party between Wendy Long, Robert Turner and George Maragos, Long won by a landslide. Out of the 62 counties in the state, Long won 55 of them. Turner won six and Maragos won one.
Long won every county upstate, including winning some of them by large margins. It was a convincing victory, but Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), her opponent in the fall general election, has accumulated a huge financial war chest of about $10 million. Long will be making every effort to match that.
What will make this Senate race such an interesting campaign is that both candidates have considerably different views on economic and social issues. It will be a hard-fought race in conjunction with the presidential campaign and other local races.