By Joe Anuta
Voters in central and northeast Queens will be choosing two members of Congress in November in newly drawn districts, one of which was carved out of the center of the borough and the other absorbed a few neighborhoods in the northeast into a district largely based in Long Island.
In a race that is heating up in the weeks leading up to Election Day Nov. 6, City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) is up against state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) for the central Queens seat, while five-term U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge) faces challenges from multiple parties: Stephen Labate on the Republican, Conservative and Tax Revolt party lines; Anthony Tolda on the Constitution Party line; and Michael McDermott on the Libertarian line.
The boundaries of the central Queens district cover the neighborhoods of Ridgewood, Glendale and Maspeth in the west, then travel east through Elmhurst, Rego Park and Forest Hills and into Flushing and Fresh Meadows before ending in Bayside.
The policies of Halloran and Meng largely differ on ideological lines. For example, Meng supports a progressive tax system, including a millionaire’s tax, while Halloran is in favor of a three-tier flat tax system and eliminating loopholes.
Outside of a relatively subdued forum, the two have bashed each other in the press over issues involving ethnicity and the disclosure of personal finances.
The seat is heavily Democratic. In the 2008 presidential election, the residents within the newly drawn district voted 63 percent in favor of President Barack Obama, and 35 percent for U.S. Rep. John McCain (R-Ariz.), roughly dovetailing state ratios, according to a New York Times report.
But farther north and east, the neighborhoods of Douglaston, Little Neck, Glen Oaks, Floral Park, Bellerose, Bay Terrace and Whitestone will vote in the recently redrawn district that largely covers parts of Nassau and Suffolk counties and is slightly more conservative than the rest of the state.
In the 2008 presidential election, 53 percent of the residents within the district voted for Obama, while 45 percent voted for McCain, according to the Times report.
Israel decided to run in the district after Rep. Gary Ackerman’s (D-Bayside) seat was eliminated due to redistricting, which shifts congressional lines in response to population changes identified in the U.S. census. He is head of the Democratic National Congressional Campaign Committee.
His challenger Labate hopes to slash taxes, fines and regulations on private sector businesses, which he said are hindering the national economy.
Tolda is running on a mission to unseat Israel, who he also ran against in 2010, and pledges to fix the economy using his financial consulting background and implementing a Fair Tax, which would tax the consumption of goods rather than Americans’ incomes.
McDermott wants to see the federal government shrink and the nation cease involving itself in the affairs of foreign countries. He would also like to see the Federal Reserve audited and likely dissolved.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.