By Mark Hallum
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) has picked up another endorsement as the city elections rev up heading into the September primary. The United Federation of Teachers offered their blessing for Vallone’s re-election campaign for his contributions to schools and libraries in the community.
Vallone has worked with schools in his district to improve learning and safety.
“Every week, I’m in our schools to champion the children, parents, teachers and principals of the two best school districts in the city,” Vallone said, referring to Districts 25 and 26 in northeast Queens. “As the campaign season kicks off, I am renewing my commitment to our children and to ensuring that we continue to provide them with the best possible opportunities to learn, grow and play. I am honored to be endorsed by the UFT and look forward to continuing to fight for our schools for the next four years.”
In October, Vallone allocated funds to bring the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus to Holy Cross High School for the day. The $10,000 went toward giving students the chance to pick skills in digital sound and video production while introducing them to the music of the late, legendary Beatle.
In November, he also rallied with other elected officials at JHS 185 in Flushing where he introduced a bill to require a 20-mile-an-hour speed limit near all elementary and middle schools, additional speed bumps and crossing guards, enhanced signs and flashing lights, as well as a re-examination of the current slow zones within the city to determine whether they fit the new safety requirements.
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, acknowledged this in a statement recognizing Vallone’s attention to schools.
“The United Federation of Teachers supports candidates who are leading the fight for our students and our schools,” Mulgrew said. “That’s why we are happy to endorse Paul Vallone for the New York City Council.”
Anna Dimilta, principal of PS 184 in Whitestone, said Vallone has funded projects to give students the resources they need to learn since he was elected in 2014.
“Since he took office on 2014, Councilman Vallone has been a constant supporter of the students and families of the PS 184Q. He has demonstrated genuine care and concern for our children and has prioritized the needs of the school community,” Dimilta said. “His support has gone beyond talk, providing consistent funding over the years to support technology and school infrastructure improvements.”
In May, Vallone also won support from the Queens Democratic machine, where he expressed his support for schools in his district.
“Representing my district has been the best four years of my life,” Vallone said. “We have put northeast Queens not only back on the map, but on top of it.”
The councilman will again face Paul Graziano, a land use expert and community activist who has close allegiances with state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), in the Democratic primary. Vallone defeated Graziano in a five-way Democratic primary in 2013, coming out with 31 percent of the vote. Graziano came in third place with 17 percent.
Graziano was also responsible for getting Bayside placed on the National Register of Historic Places after he submitted a petition a decade ago, although this designation does not offer any protections against demolitions or alterations to any historic sites.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall