By Kelsey Durham
The Queens Village Republican Club welcomed gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino this week as he made an appearance to discuss the upcoming election and issues currently challenging New Yorkers across the state.
The Republican and Conservative nominee, currently serving as Westchester County executive, spoke briefly at the club’s new Glen Oaks venue, St. Anne’s Council of the Knights of Columbus, before taking questions from the audience.
As he campaigns ahead of the November election, Astorino said he had so far visited 56 of New York’s 62 counties and was feeling positive about his chances to steal the state’s top seat from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“The question I ask every single New Yorker is, under this governor, as a state, are we winning or are we losing?” Astorino asked the crowd, including some spectators who spilled out onto the club’s lawn to watch on a big screen. “We need to have an answer on Nov. 4.”
Though he has spent much of his political career in Westchester County, Astorino said he has strong ties to Queens and said the borough still holds a place close to him. His mother was a Queens native who grew up in Corona, and Astorino said the area played a large part in shaping him into who he is today.
After speaking briefly about how his campaign has played out so far, the candidate took questions from the crowd on topics such as education and taxes. He said one of his priorities if he were elected would be to focus on lowering taxes in order to keep businesses and residents from leaving New York in favor of other states with better economies.
“Living in New York has become a prison sentence,” he said. “How many of you are just counting the days until you can leave? Unless we make fundamental changes now, my kids will never have a shot in New York state. The opportunities are going to be elsewhere and the taxes are going to be lower elsewhere.”
Astorino was also asked about the public school tax credit initiative that aimed to offer tax breaks to private citizens who donate to public school institutions. The bill failed to come to a vote in the state Legislature before the session closed at the end of June.
Astorino, who said he has three children currently in public school, said he supported the bill and said improvements to public education are important to him and his political agenda. He also said he was in favor of including private and parochial schools in the program.
“This will not hurt public education in any way, shape or form,” he said of the bill. “We want a very good public education system in our schools, but we want accountability, too.”
With about four months to go until Election Day, Astorino said he is confident his campaign has been successful and said he thinks this could be the year the Republican Party can start to help turn the state around.
“Why should we settle for second best?’” he asked. “We shouldn’t. This is New York and it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s make New York great again.”
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.