Blishteyn backs trade schools, vouchers in race for City Council

By William Lewis

New York City in past decades has been the place where new political and social ideas have emerged. Queens Republican Chairman Phil Ragusa recently commented on some of these recent issues. He is strongly opposed to efforts being made by liberal spokesmen to grant voting rights to non-citizens.

As Ragusa expressed it, “Why should we grant voting rights to non-citizens who have only been in our country for six months?”

This issue has been debated in liberal political circles for the last several years. It has now come to the forefront of political discussion.

Ragusa referred to voting rights as a privilege, and this privilege should be earned by achieving U.S. citizenship. If this matter becomes a major issue, it could become a topic for debate between the Republican and Democratic candidates who win their party’s nomination for mayor. If there is significant support for the policy, it could become a subject for initiative referendum leading to the entire state voting on it.

The Queens Republican Party recently held its annual county dinner with John Catsimatidis, supported by the Queens Republican Executive Committee, as the main speaker. He was well-received. When Ragusa spoke to the assembled county gathering, he was met with cheers and applause, which lasted for a few minutes. Ragusa was deeply appreciative of the expression of support by the dinner guests.

At this point, the chairman is directing the petition drive that gets candidates to qualify for ballot position. He also emphasized the issues of education and anti-crime measures. The chairman is also looking for future candidates who are well-qualified to run for public office.

The Republican and Democratic primary election campaigns started in January and will end with the primary election Sept. 10. The candidates who win their primaries will face each other in the general election.

In the 24th City Council District, which includes Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Briarwood and Kew Gardens Hills, among other locations, a young lawyer by the name of Alexander Blishteyn is running as the Republican and Conservative candidate.

Some of his positions on issues include favoring less government regulation over small business. He wants a voucher system in education so parents can choose the schools of their choice for their children. Blishteyn wants to see lower tax rates for some commercial businesses.

Blishteyn also supports the concept of vocational high schools that provide a trade school in addition to academic subjects. He believes there is a need for it and it would be a step toward keeping students in school.

Like other conservatives in both major parties, he has taken a strong stand in favor of maintaining law and order. He favors stop-and-frisk procedures. He is opposed to the concept of an inspector general monitoring police activities. Blishteyn is against non-citizens voting in elections.

In the 24th Council District, the Democrats who are running in the party primary are Rory Lancman and Andrea Veras. The winner of that primary will face Blishteyn in November’s general election.

Presently, Lancman is considered Blishteyn’s main opponent from the standpoint that he has considerable name recognition in the district and that he has served in the state Assembly for several years, although he ran for Congress last year and lost.

Unlike the state Senate and the Assembly, which have two-year terms of office, the Council has a four-year term of office, although the Council is presently term limited to two terms.

The Council helps provide government services at the local level. This year, if there is a lot of interest in the mayor’s race, it could bring a large turnout to the polls.

More from Around New York