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Crowley challenged by Astoria businessman

By Bill Parry

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) is seeking his 10th term in Congress representing Queens and the Bronx against Republican challenger Frank Spotorno, a first time candidate and owner of the Park Avenue Elevator Cab Company in Astoria. Crowley is the leader of the Queens Democratic Party and vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.

“I have been privileged to represent one of the most diverse districts in the country and I hope to earn that privilege once again to continue fighting on behalf of my constituents and on the matters most important to them,” Crowley said. “The issues facing American families across the country are not unlike what people in my district are facing: the need for good paying jobs, affordable child care, comprehensive immigration reform and the opportunity to retire with peace of mind after a lifetime of work. And as a member of the elected leadership in the House Democratic Caucus, I will continue to put those needs at the forefront of our agenda as we work to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Spotorno is the co-founder of the Bring Our Jobs Home organization that advocates for returning some of the millions of lost manufacturing and call center jobs back to the United States, and supports American companies that are doing the right thing and still making it in America.

“Millions of Americans no longer have a chance at the American Dream, because they can’t find a good paying job with benefits,” Spotorno said. “I’m running because the people of Queens and the Bronx need a congressman who will work to pass legislation in Washington that will encourage corporations to bring their jobs home, and help keep the existing jobs we still have here in the district.

Spotorno worked with the owners of the ISIS Cafe to change their name. It is now called the Rose Cafe. He has also worked to rebuild a bocce court in Astoria Park.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) has served in Congress since 1992 and built a reputation as one of the most prolific lawmakers on Capitol Hill, improving infrastructure, fighting for health care, and women’ and childrens’ rights.

“I have passed more than 70 measures including landmark legislation like the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides health coverage for 9/11 victims and first responders,” Maloney said. “When I first ran for Congress, I did it because I wanted to improve the lives of my constituents. I am running for re-election because I want to continue to work for my constituents.”

Maloney is facing Republican Robert Ardini, a former marketing executive who has operated a small publishing business for nearly a decade. Ardini’s primary campaign issue is the national debt.

“The national debt is way out of control. If we don’t stop the insanity now, we may find ourselves bankrupt like Greece,” Ardini said. “All the money we’re spending on interest on the debt we should be spending on roads and bridges, surveillance to combat terrorism, reducing taxes, and paying down that debt. And if we don’t get a handle on it, it will just grow. We have to start balancing the budget. It’s that simple.

Ardini’s secondary campaign issues are congressional gridlock and term limits.

“My Democrat opponent has been a member of the House for 23 consecutive years,” he said. “That can’t be what our founders intended.”

In southeast Queens, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) has been challenged for his congressional seat by Michael O’Reilly, a Marine Corps veteran and airline pilot. The district includes the Rockaway peninsula as well as parts of Broad Channel, Hollis, Jamaica, Laurelton, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens and South Ozone Park.

Meeks worked as an assistant district attorney and was a legislator in the state Assembly prior to his successful run for Congress in 1998, and he has been representing the 5th District since that time. He currently sits on the committees of financial services and foreign affairs in Congress, and said he intended to continue working to entice industry and jobs to areas like downtown Jamaica and the Rockaways, as well as help craft a transportation infrastructure bill.

“I’ll continue to focus on some sensible gun control laws,” Meeks said, pledging to try to close loopholes that allow criminals to bring guns in from out-of-state. He said he could not imagine Donald Trump winning the presidency, and said it would be important for Democrats in Congress to balance the power in Washington if he won.

“The Democratic role would be to save our republic,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re a body that puts a check on the executive branch of government and make sure that democracy is preserved.”

O’Reilly, in addition to his Marine Corps stint, is also a practicing attorney and in the past has been a pilot for Delta Airlines Express. On his website, O’Reilly asserts that he supports discontinuing Common Core, and advocates for setting Congressional term limits.

“If you are not happy with the way our politicians are handling the major problems that we all face every day in Queens, our neighborhood and in our country, then go out and vote this November – vote with your own heart and your own mind,” he wrote on his website.

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