By Mark Hallum
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) raked in more endorsements from the Korean community Tuesday as about 15 leaders from various immigrant organizations stood in his re-election office off Bell Boulevard and gave him their personal stamp of approval.
Many of the endorsees were associated with non-profit and community organizations, which are prohibited from endorsing political candidates, but gave their verbal support on a personal level apart from the groups they lead.
“I think the people in this room, if they weren’t with me from Day One, I would not have been able to say ‘let’s re-elect this year.’ Four years ago, we stood together and we said we’re going to work to make this the best council office ever and especially for a community that never had focus or representation before,” Vallone said, explaining that he had worked with Korean leaders throughout his first term to be the person they turn to address issues.
Minsun Kim of the Korean American Association of Greater New York endorsed Vallone for the support he has offered to schools within his district through city funds and aimed at specific programs.
“I’m an educator,” Kim said, explaining some of the funding issues schools in the district experienced prior to Vallone’s time. “Paul brought $15 million from the city budget to our community to make everything happen. All of us have to appreciate the value of Paul Vallone’s achievement.”
Vallone was elected in 2013 and since then has been a supporter of schools with a significant amount of city funds being allocated toward educational programs in his district, which has been a city leader in participatory budgeting. Districts 25 and 26 are the highest performing school districts in the city. Vallone recently declared a victory in arranging the purchase of land owned by Cord Meyer and Bay Terrace co-op owners.
The incumbent is facing another challenge from fellow Democrat Paul Graziano, a northeast Queens native, land use expert and civic activist, who is known for fighting against over-development by working with elected officials such as state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) to adjust zoning laws. Graziano is also responsible for having the Broadway Flushing neighborhood — 1,330 buildings in total — added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Graziano went up against Vallone in 2013 during a five-way primary with no incumbent after Dan Halloran decided against running for re-election due to a corruption indictment.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall