Primary guide: City Council District 22


As the clock ticks closer to city primaries on Tuesday, September 10, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running. Here is a list of the candidates in City Council District 22 (Astoria, Long Island City and parts of Jackson Heights), who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November. 

Name: John J. Ciafone

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation:  Attorney

Personal Info: John Ciafone is the only candidate born, raised and who continues to live and work in the community. He attended public schools in the Astoria neighborhood like P.S. 85, J.H.S. 141, and Long Island City High School. He is now an attorney practicing for almost 20 years and maintains an office on Steinway Street. He is married with three children.  He attended NYU and St. John’s University, School of Law graduating with honors. He served as an intern for Governor Mario Cuomo and was an intern in the NYC Council’s Legal Division, where he helped draft and write law. He was also an intern to Supreme Court Justice Frederick Schmidt and was appointed a Referee in several foreclosure actions by Justices Joseph Golia and Schmidt and was appointed Administrator and Referee by Surrogate Robert Nahman.

Issues/Platform: Ciafone was elected twice to Community School Board 30 serving the greater community of Astoria, Long Island City, Jackson Heights, Sunnyside, Woodside, Corona, and East Elmhurst. There, he fought for and obtained funding for more new schools and increased seats for the children in the district.  According to Ciafone the community is in a lot of trouble.  There are no jobs for our children who graduate from schools. There is no affordable housing and no adequate senior housing.  Senior centers, libraries, and parks are being axed.  Small businesses are under attack by the city looking to generate revenue by increasing costs, fees, fines and taxes.  Small homeowners can’t afford the increased taxes, water and sewer charges.  He believes there is a need to hire more police and the weakening of Stop, Question, and Frisk will only increase crime in our community. There is a shortage of pre-K classes, beacon programs, and after school programs, he says.  Ciafone believes the people need to elect a true independent fighter not connected with the special interests and political bosses.

Name: Costa Constantinides

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Democratic District Leader (36 AD Part A), former Deputy Chief of Staff for Councilmember James F. Gennaro

Personal Info: Costa Constantinides is a grassroots community organizer and progressive political leader who has lived in Astoria his whole life. In 2009, Constantinides was elected to serve as the Democratic District Leader for the 36th Assembly District, Part A.  Constantinides also serves as a board member of the United Community Civic Association and the Asgata Association. He served as Legislative Director and Deputy Chief of Staff to Councilmember James F. Gennaro where he assisted on key legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to protect our wetlands, improve the water quality of our drinking supply, and on other important environmental measures.

Issues/Platform: Constantinides’ plan for better environmental protection includes dismantling the Poletti Power Plant and cleaning up other dirty plants, reducing traffic congestion, investing in clean energy, expanding open spaces and protecting drinking water. Hurricane protection, mitigation tactics and smart building codes are central to his plan to expand open spaces.  Constantinides will work to see that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s resiliency plan is implemented. Constantinides’ plan for clean streets calls for doubling trash pick-ups, hiring street crews for litter  removal, improving park maintenance, graffiti deterrence and better removal and doubling fines for illegal dumping. He supports INT-0774, which would increase fines for depositing household garbage in public litter bins meant for pass-by litter.  He also plans to hire professional graffiti removal companies and deter graffiti with better after-school programs and security cameras in chronically-graffiti areas. Constantinides believes we need to invest more in our district schools and will work to put a stop to recent school closures.

Name: Constantinos “Gus” Prentzas

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Community Board 1 Co-Chair of Department of Consumer Affairs

Personal Info: Gus Prentzas is a lifelong resident of Astoria. In 1991, he was elected to School Board 30 covering Astoria. He served as Vice President of School Board 30 for seven years. During that time, he proposed the adoption of Megan’s Law within the School Board. The Board accepted the proposal making Astoria’s 30th School Board the first in the city and state to enforce the law that protects students from sexual predators. Prentzas was appointed by Councilmember Peter Vallone Sr. to supervise the cleaning process of Astoria’s schools when it became obvious asbestos levels in old school buildings could be a hazard to children. Prentzas continues his tenure of 10 years on Community Board 1 serving Astoria. He is currently the co-chair of the community board’s Department of Consumer Affairs. He is also a member of the Astoria Kiwanis Club and has been honored with the award of Community Person of the Year.

Issues/Platform: According to Prentzas, public safety is “the foundation of a prosperous community.” He hopes to work with the deputy inspector of the 114th Precinct to provide all resources needed to maintain the neighborhood’s level of safety. Prentzas will be a strong advocate of keeping the character of the communities. He believes tenants deserve the best care and renovation services from their landlords. He hopes to “take the delinquent NYCHA to task.” According to Prentzas, education is a right, not a privilege. He will fight to create new schools and help “free the teachers and students of the obstructions the bureaucracy has created.” Also, as a lifelong business owner Prentzas would provide a “common sense approach to the regulation of businesses” to help small businesses succeed.

Editor’s Note: Requests for information from the candidate’s campaign were not received as of press time, therefore this information was retrieved from the candidate’s campaign website.