By Gina Martinez
Three Eastern Queens members of the state Assembly are being challenged by first-time candidates on the Republican slate.
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing), who represents the 25th District, is facing Usman Ali Chohan, a St. John’s University freshman.
Rozic’s campaign has focused on quality-of-life issues in Bayside, Douglaston and Fresh Meadows as well as Flushing.
“I’m up for the task,” she said. “I’m ready to fight for families. Serving residents of Queens has been my biggest priority, working on issues that focus on middle- and working class. I’ve been really focused on improving our schools, making sure they have the resources with investment in education through state budget. We’ve increased minimum wage and passed the historic new paid family leave law. I’ve always worked hard for the families that I represent and I look forward to doing it for four more years.”
If Rozic wins re-election, she plans to build on the progress she has already made.
“Going forward I want to continue to create safer streets, repairing our roads and highways,” she said. ‘I’ve been in Albany fighting the good fight in the assembly I’ve worked every single day to make progress. I have a track record that proves that and I’m engaged, I’ve always been a person that’s from the community that will work hard and will always focus on the families of our neighborhoods.”
Chohan, is a civic activist in Fresh Meadows involved in educational issues.
“My experience in education is that throughout high school I was part of a program under (former Assemblyman) Mark Weprin called participatory budgeting,” he said. “I think it was a great program because it gave the taxpayer the option to vote on what they wanted to spend their money on. And I campaigned on getting money for our gyms, smart boards and new computers for our schools.”
Chohan wants to make sure that taxpayer money goes toward important issues.
“Unfortunately in the city of New York under the current Democratic administration it was very slow,” he said. “So I continuously knocked on all the doors to get those resources to the schools. It took them nearly a year and a half. If I’m elected I’ll make sure that if taxpayers want to pay for education, the City, State and the Department of Education will need to spend it on education instead of wasting it on projects like Citi Bikes, or extending select bus service or so called “transit projects”
Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) is running against Republican businessman Ira Harris. He said his constituents frequently come to him with quality-of-life complaints.
“There are a lot of quality-of-life issues we deal with on a regular basis,” he said. “We have two storefront offices, one off of Union Turnpike, and one in Richmond Hill. We constantly get people walking in off the street and help them deal with issues. People have water and sewer problems, traffic conditions in certain streets aren’t up to par, we get street lights, stop signs safety concerns.”
He went on to say that he gets involved in city issues since he served as a city councilman for a number of years.
“I know who to call, how to deal with city agencies as much as state agencies. I always told my staff if someone calls my office, we handle it. I feel that as a local elected official, it’s my responsibility.”
Harris, who owns a signs and awning company, said his business experience will make him an effective leader.
“I’m a businessman,” he said, “so I get results on a weekly basis, I have to meet deadlines and be responsible. I get things done. That’s what I could do for the state, for the people. I’m a candidate for the people, not for Albany. The people are frustrated, I’m running on lowering taxes because people want lower taxes, they want to do more with less money and as a business owner that’s what sometimes I have to do. When the economy is bad and business isn’t coming in, I have to figure things out, I can’t just raise my prices. Politicians just tax more to bring in more money.”
Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) represents New York’s 40th District, covering areas of Flushing, Queensboro Hill and Murray Hill, is running against the GOP’s Miriam Rodriguez, who could not be located. His focus is helping small businesses.
“I represent the most number of mom-and-pop business in the state,” he said “These small businesses generate so much revenue for the city and state, but they are ignored. New York City ranks at the bottom of the list in the country for being pro small business. Sooner or later we’re going to lose these mom-and-pops and we’re going to suffer. We need to reverse this trend. What we’ve done is give all these big corporations endless breaks to stay in the state, yet we’re overburdening small businesses with taxes and overregulation.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart