Vallone challenges field for boro prez

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rebecca Henely

Throwing his hat into a crowded field, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) announced Tuesday he would be running for borough president.

“I’d like to continue to work with you, to continue to make Queens better and better,” said Vallone, speaking at Astoria restaurant Don Coqui.

Vallone declared his candidacy at his law firm’s Christmas party, saying he wanted to be among friends and family at the neighborhood eatery, located at 28-18 31st St.

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), former Forest Hills-based Councilwoman Melinda Katz, Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik and state Sens. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) had previously announced they were running for the borough president seat.

Vallone said that while there are “very good people” vying for the same office, as a partner in his father’s law firm, he has an understanding of the struggles small businesses face that the other candidates lack and described himself as a fighter for Queens issues.

“I understand Queens,” Vallone said. “I spent my whole life here.”

Vallone had said for more than a year that he was interested in becoming borough president but did not formally declare a candidacy. In an interview with TimesLedger Newspapers in September, Vallone said if not for term limits he would have run for the Council again, but now had his eye on either heading up the borough or running for Queens district attorney if the top prosecutor’s spot opened up .

He also circulated campaign stickers with his name imposed over images of the Hell Gate Bridge and the Unisphere reading “Strong leadership for a safer city.”

During the September interview Vallone praised Borough President Helen Marshall’s likability, Brooklyn’s Marty Markowitz’s ability to cheerlead for his borough, Manhattan’s Scott Stringer’s head for policy and the Bronx’s Reuben Diaz Jr.’s partnership with his borough’s Council delegation.

The son and namesake of a former Council speaker, Vallone ran for the Astoria seat in 2002 after working as a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

As chairman of the Council’s Public Safety Committee, Vallone has a reputation for being tough on crime and has advocated for more funds for the NYPD and more cops on the streets.

He is especially known for his hatred of graffiti. He has introduced numerous pieces of legislation aimed at curbing graffiti and has criticized the Arizona Iced Tea company for incorporating graffiti in its designs.

The councilman has also worked to improve the air quality in Astoria and helped get the Charles Poletti Power Plant shut down in 2010.

Vallone has clashed with his colleagues in government over his controversial campaigns to stop the renaming of the Queensborough Bridge to the Edward I. Koch-Queensboro Bridge and to keep the “Triumph of Civic Virtue” statue near Queens Borough Hall instead of allowing it to be moved to Brooklyn.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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