By Gina Martinez
In the last four years Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) has sponsored multiple bills advocating for families and small businesses in her district. In her run for a third term she faces Republican Danniel Maio, a map maker.
In 2016 alone Meng has passed legislation into law that removes the term “Oriental” from federal law, legislation to protect public housing residents from living with insufficient heat, and legislation to assist veterans with several health care and disability-related benefits. Her district includes Forest Hills, Middle Village and Bayside.
Meng said she is not focusing too heavily on campaigning because she technically is always on the campaign trail.
“Congress members are up for election every two years because it’s so close in timing so there’s no start or end to campaigning,” she said. “Election year or not, we try the best to be accessible to constituents and hear their concerns and bring them to Washington.”
Meng has said part of her success in Congress is her bipartisanship.
“I’m really proud of my bipartisan record,” she said. “I promised when I first ran to try my best to work in a bipartisan matter, to reach across the aisle. My constituents don’t want me to just point fingers and place blame. I have been able to pass legislation because I’ve been able to work with Republican and Democratic leadership.”
Her competitor, Maio, studied politics at American University in Washington, D.C. and later started an identity maps company, where he has worked for the last 25 years.
“I have to do things very comprehensively,” he said. “When you look at a map, whatever angle you look at it the information should be consistent, comprehensive, accurate and trustworthy. And that’s basically what I’m going to bring to the office.”
Maio said his top priority is the development of an app that collects citizens’ reports and citations to establish community relations.
“What I am proposing is very simple,” he said. “A phone app. All you have to do, whatever problem you have, instead of calling the police, take a picture of it, send any information and it will come straight to my office. I will work with the police department, I will work with the proper agencies. You can use it to report crimes anonymously so you don’t have to be involved. The way the current system is eventually someone will come out and check, but when they check, they only check the documented problem. If it’s not on their work order, it won’t be looked at. I will go out and have my people check other spots within that area and ask what else is wrong and then work with the city to have them help comprehensively.”
Meng said she is the more qualified candidate because of her close ties to the community.
“I applaud Danniel for running,” she said. “It’s a democracy and everyone is entitled to run, but he’s new to Queens. I believe he just moved to the Forest Hills area. I never met him before a forum two weeks ago. I have closer ties to our community and our community leaders. We have worked closely together to make Washington, D.C. more relevant to Queens, securing funding to make sure that my constituents lives are improved.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart