Zwirn goes up against Pheffer Amato for Assembly seat

Republican Alan Zwirn is running for assembly in District 23.
By Gina Martinez

Republican Alan Zwirn is going up against Democrat Stacey Pheffer Amato for the Assembly seat in the 23rd District covering Ozone Park, Rockaway and Howard Beach. The seat went up for grabs after Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Beach) announced in June he was stepping away to focus on family and work as a lobbyist for Yeshiva University.

Zwirn has deep roots in Rockaway, having lived in the neighborhood for more than 25 years, with his two children. He is the president of the Rockaway Republican Club, on the board of directors at a local temple and was a music teacher in Brooklyn for 37 years before retiring.

“From what I understand, it’s a close race,” he said. “I decided to run because I was asked to by people in my community. District leaders approached me because they thought I could do a good job in replacing Goldfeder.”

He paused, “My children are all grown up and my wife is still teaching, so I thought why not?”

One huge issue in the Rockaways is transportation. Zwirn supports the plans to revive the Rockaway Beach rail, a line that was taken out of commission decades ago.

“It would cut travel time to Midtown in Queens,” he said. “It would reinvigorate the economy, bring people to restaurants and stores because of the different stops in South Queens. It would also potentially relieve traffic on Woodhaven and Crossbay. If commuters are going to the Queens Midtown Tunnel, they could take the train.”

The MTA is studying the possibility of reviving the line, but there is also a strong push by some residents in southern Queens to convert the abandoned track into a park similar to the High Line in Manhattan.

Zwirn said as assemblyman he plans to improve community and police relations.

“The brave men and women of our nation’s police departments put their lives on the line everyday in order to protect and serve their communities,” he said. “I have become disgusted with career politicians turning their back on our hardworking men and women in blue. We need to bring peace and security back to our communities and we can only do that by standing behind our police — not degrading them. This can be done by implementing more beat policing efforts to establish a stronger rapport between the community and local law enforcement.”

Zwirn is also firmly against the way Mayor Bill de Blasio has dealt with the homeless crisis in the city. The Department of Homeless Services has begun renting out rooms to the homeless at the Playland hotel in Rockaway Beach.

“Playland should not be a shelter because it doesn’t meet the qualifications,” he said. “There are no bathrooms, all communal, and the kids don’t go to school. The system in place now enables families. The system is making it tougher. We need to put families in city housing with empty apartments. Those apartments are better suited to deal with families and meet the requirements, with beds and kitchens. The homeless are not the problem, the mayor is the problem.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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