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What a president from Queens should be

By Seth Bornstein

Think about it…a president from Queens. It’s never happened, but it would be so cool! The closest we came was First Lady Nancy Reagan, who spent her toddler years in Flushing before relocating to Maryland.

I’m thinking of what a president from Queens would be like. As the most the diverse county in the world, he or she would probably be open-minded and comfortable with people from all over the globe. This elected official would be at ease with those who speak different languages and eat all types of foods, not just Americanized taco bowls from upscale restaurants in Midtown Manhattan. He or she would be honest, too, I guess because when you grow up in the Big Apple, you have to remember so much. And as Mark Twain said: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Sure the president would have academic and street smarts. Attending public school and figuring out the MTA system (especially on weekends) at an early age take a certain kind of urban intelligence. I suspect he or she would be tough but fair and not take advantage of others because New Yorkers know “whatever goes around comes around.”

Of course, New Yorkers have empathy, especially for those who are disadvantaged economically and/or physically. And we help each other. Sure on the subway a poor tourist might get five different sets of directions to Carnegie Hall—one of them will inevitably be the wisenheimer shouting “Practice!” because we have senses of humor. But the bottom line is that we intuitively help those less fortunate, a good quality for anyone seeking the presidency.

Building bridges is a key trait for a president. Sure, we don’t all sit around the campfire and sing “Kumbaya,” but we know how to get along as we have to share the same sidewalks, schools, neighborhoods, and parks. Plus, we all root for the Mets!

If our locally born president is a man, he has a mother and possibly a wife, sister or daughter. And like any Gotham gent, if another guy harassed a woman he cares about, he’d give him more than a piece of his mind—possibly a well-deserved split lip. But most importantly, a real New Yorker is comfortable in his or her skin. Yes, we can be a little in-your-face and get prickly, but hey, that toughness usually protects warm and caring hearts within and make us proud to be New Yorkers whether by birth or immigration.

I’m told one of next week’s presidential contenders is actually from Queens! Although based on what I read and what I know of my fellow New Yorkers, I have my doubts.

I want to see his birth certificate.

Seth Bornstein

Executive Director

Queens Economic Development Corp.

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