By Madina Toure
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) formally launched her re-election campaign in Forest Hills Monday afternoon as U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and community leaders from Flushing and Forest Hills praised the senator’s work.
Speaking right near Geraldine Ferraro Way on Ascan Avenue and Austin Street, which was named for the late congresswoman and the first female U.S. vice presidential nominee of a major political party, Stavisky touted accomplishments such as the Women’s Equality Agenda, the lowest tax rate on the middle class in the last 70 years in this year’s budget, the tuition freeze at SUNY and CUNY and an increase of 6 percent in state aid to education throughout the state.
But she said ethics reform is “long overdue,” noting that LLC (limited liability corporation) loophole must be closed and for limits to be placed on elected officials’ outside incomes. She also called for more diversity in specialized high schools and for the Dream Act legislation enabling undocumented students who graduated from high schools in New York City to apply for college financial aid to be passed.
“I believe that we are going to nominate a woman for president,” she said. “Women have to be given the opportunity. In the state Senate, there are 12 women. We were all excited when the number increased this year from 11 to 12 out of 63 and we’ve got to do something about that.”
Meng, who co-hosted the event and has worked with Stavisky for years, reminded attendees that Stavisky was the first woman in Queens to be elected to the state Senate and reiterated the significance of the news conference being held at Geraldine Ferraro Way.
She noted the role that Stavisky played in bringing the public school holiday for Lunar New Year to fruition.
“Any issue that people bring up to her, she’s always right there, not just for a photo-op but for multiple meetings in front of the press, behind closed doors,” Meng said. “Whatever it takes to find a solution to a problem, Senator Stavisky is always leading the charge.”
Peter Tu, executive director of the Flushing Chinese Business Association; Flushing Democratic District Leader Martha Flores Vazquez; Joe Nocerino, a Forest Hills community leader; Ikhwan Rim, president of the Union Street Small Business Association; and Jeff Huang, a plumbing contractor in downtown Flushing spoke in support of the senator.
Her challenger, S.J. Jung, former president of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, said her campaign sent out negative mailers and disseminated deceitful information through phone call programs during the 2014 cycle when he ran against her. He said the focus should be on the issues affecting Queens residents.
“I was very disappointed in 2014 by Sen. Stavisky’s tactics and I hope that this year she can steer clear of negative campaigning,” Jung said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour