By Tom Momberg
Barry Grodenchik has been campaigning for one of the most competitive political races in the off-year elections slated for this fall.
Grodenchik, 55, is one of six candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the City Council seat vacated by Mark Weprin this spring. Now running in his fourth political race, Grodenchik by and large has the most extensive experience in running a campaign.
“I think this race boils down to who is better able to serve independently with the experience that people in this community have come to expect of their elected officials,” Grodenchik said in a sitdown interview with the TimesLedger Newspapers. “My record of public service is unmatched. I have helped, by my own estimate, over 100,000 people in my career — most of them one at a time.”
Grodenchik was elected to the state Assembly serving the Flushing area from 2003 to 2004, prior to which he served as a top aide to former Queens Borough Presidents Claire Shulman and Helen Marshall.
He ran and lost in a race for City Council in 2001 and for re-election to his Assembly seat in 2004.
Currently on leave as the director of parks and community boards for Borough President Melinda Katz, Grodenchik can trace the roots of his public service career to 1987, when he worked in the office of former Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn and later as Queens regional representative for former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
Grodenchik said the greatest challenge in government is always fighting the bureaucracy, trying to work with all the moving parts of government to get significant things accomplished.
He said he learned under Mayersohn and her fight to pass her “Baby AIDS” bill that sought to bring proper medical care to infants infected with HIV, and under Shulman in her fight to get the city to build a much-needed hospital in Queens that getting things done requires persistence.
“It takes time. You need a lot of patience. If you stick through it, sometimes you can win,” Grodenchik said. “You don’t always win, but you have to fight the fight.”
Now as Grodenchik is tossing his hat back into the ring for public office once more, he said he can only take what he knows about government and try to make it work for the people in Council District 23, which serves Glen Oaks, Oakland Gardens, Bellerose and parts of Queens Village and Bayside Hills.
His campaign platform is to keep the district’s schools some of the best in the best in the city and to allocate more city resources to improving the number of transportation options in the eastern Queens district.
Grodenchik has a transportation proposal in mind, too: to open the Belmont Park Long Island Rail Road station up for the district’s use to drive, park and take the train into the city. He said he would also like to make improvements to Access-A-Ride, which serves elderly residents, and to allocate more affordable senior housing and social services to the district.
He grew up in eastern Queens, attended local schools, and is currently a resident of Queens Village, where he lives with his wife, Dr. Debra Grodenchik, a professor at Nassau Community College, and their son, David.
Grodenchik, who has obtained more political endorsements from elected officials in Queens than any of his opponents, said he would be excited to return to an elected position serving his neighbors near home.