By Bill Parry
The presumed frontrunner for the 22nd City Council District seat promoted his public safety plans Tuesday morning, hoping to close the deal with Astoria voters.
Democratic candidate Costa Constantinides had the backing of the uniformed officers unions as he laid out a four-point plan: press for more police and firefighters, support common sense gun control, pay a competitive wage and save neighborhood firehouses.
Constantinides is running to replace Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., a public safety champion during his 12 years in office, when his tenure ends in two months because of term limits.
“If you don’t feel safe, nothing else matters,” said Constantinides. “I’ve knocked on 12,000 doors during this campaign and everyone says it.”
The candidate spoke from a podium set up by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and surrounded by the PBA executive board. Its president, Patrick Lynch, said of Constantinides: “He understands that public safety is No. 1, bigger than taxes. All else follows the safety around here.”
The candidate pointed out that the NYPD is down to 34,500 officers from 41,000 in 2001.
“That is unacceptable,” he said.
The candidate noted that since 90 percent of illegal guns come from other states, he endorsed the Vallone gun offender registry bill, which calls for a database on all violent offenders. But Constantinides attempted to placate gun owners by saying, “I’m for the Second Amendment, we’re not trying to take your guns away.”
Constantinides then called for the city to pay a competitive wage and ensure fair contracts to uniformed officers.
“It’s a travesty that this administration allowed uniformed officers’ contracts to expire. If they are going to put their lives on the line, we’re going to stand with them,” he said.
Finally, Constantinides called the closing of firehouses political football, something that should never be a political solution.
“People say the money isn’t there, but we have the fourth-highest budget in the country. You just have to get your priorities straight,” he shouted.
Matt Desjardin, the Queens trustee of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, agreed, declaring, “The mayor always includes closing 20 firehouses, saying it only cuts a minute and a half off the response time. Try holding your breath for a minute-thirty and you’ll know how important that is!”
The race for the 22nd Council District is crowded. Daniel Peterson, a former President onf the NY Young Republicans is in the race. Lynne Serpe is representing the Green Party, The Conservative Part candidate is Danielle DStefano while Gerald Kann is the Populist candidate.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.