By Mark Hallum
The Queens County Democratic Party has endorsed Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) for the upcoming municipal elections. As the incumbent, Vallone represents northeast Queens, from Flushing to Douglaston, and faces community activist and land use expert Paul Graziano in the Democratic primary.
Vallone received unanimous support from the party and expressed gratitude to the Queens Democratic chairman, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), for the standing by him.
“To stand side-by-side with our fellow Queens Democrats and our leader, Congressman Joe Crowley, and receive their unanimous endorsement will always be one of the proudest moments for me and my whole family,” Vallone said. “Representing my district has been the best four years of my life. We have put northeast Queens not only back on the map, but on top of it! I am once again reaffirming my commitment to preserve our quality of life here in our community and continuously support our schools, public safety, veterans and seniors. Let’s finish the work we have started together.”
Vallone faced Graziano in a five-way Democratic primary in 2013, but defeated his opponents with 31 percent. Graziano came in third place with 17 percent.
Graziano has worked on issues in northeast Queens, such as fighting to have historic sites and districts landmarked and preserved. He also actively opposed over-development in neighborhoods such as Bayside through zoning changes that keep residential areas restricted to one- and two-family homes. He is currently treasurer of the Bayside Historical Society.
Some of Graziano’s work includes getting Bayside placed on the National Register of Historic Places after he submitted a petition a decade ago, but this designation does not offer any protections against demolitions or alterations to any historic sites.
Graziano is known for his allegiance with state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), an active member in the renegade Independent Democratic Committee of the state Senate, which has been a point of controversy with mainstream Democrats for its mission to negotiate with Republicans to pass legislation. Republicans control the state Senate with 31 seats.
At a January protest against Avella’s membership in the IDC, Graziano was among counter-protestors who rejected the argument that the rogue Democrats are betraying their party and the constituents who voted them into office by working with the GOP.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall