By Rebecca Henely
Astoria District Leader Costa Constantinides kicked off his campaign to be the neighborhood’s city councilman at Central Lounge last week.
Constantinides made the announcement at the restaurant and bar, at 20-30 Steinway St. in Astoria, with Councilmen Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck) and Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) at his side. Constantinides, a Democrat, is running for the seat currently held by Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who is being term-limited out and currently seeking the borough president’s post.
“I feel fantastic,” Constantinides said. “It is very humbling to have the support of so many people who are here this evening.”
While Gennaro did not formally endorse Constantinides, the councilman had high words of praise for Constantinides, who works as Gennaro’s deputy chief of staff and has been employed in his office for more than five years.
“He’s exactly what you want in a Council member,” Gennaro said. “He’s someone with not only great ability but great integrity.”
Constantinides said he has lived in Astoria all his life. He said when he was growing up, his mother was the president of the PTA President’s Council, and he has worked to help others in the neighborhood because of her example.
“To me, there’s no greater honor than giving back,” Constantinides said.
He said his platform includes expanding Mt. Sinai Queens Hospital to bring more health care to the neighborhood, replacing trailers at primary and middle schools with expanded buildings, stopping the threatened closure of high schools in the neighborhood, improving air quality by making power plants in the neighborhood go greener and getting more police officers on the streets.
Constantinides said with his experience working as a district leader since 2009 and as an employee with Gennaro, he is the most qualified for the position.
“I want to take all that experience and make sure we improve our quality of life for the people of my district,” he said.
Constantinides has gotten endorsements from the Working Families Party; the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union; UFCW Local 1500; and the Progressive Caucus Alliance.
“My job is to fight for the hardworking people of the city of New York and that’s what those groups do,” Constantinides said.
Community Board 1 member and activist Tony Meloni is also running as a Democrat for the same seat.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.