Bayside native John Sakelos is a moderate Republican running to unseat Democratic incumbent Assemblyman Ed Braunstein to represent Assembly District 26.
Sakelos is a union actor, theater/humanities professor, and a researcher/writer. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree from George Washington University.
Sakelos is looking to represent Assembly District 26 which includes the neighborhoods of Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside Hills, Broadway-Flushing, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, North Shore Towers, Oakland Gardens, and Whitestone.
Sakelos is also running on a new independent ballot called ‘Save Our City,’ a moderate anti-de-Blasio Party. The group has campaigned on repealing and replacing bail reform, fighting de Blasio’s anti-police agenda, taxation reform, as well as term office limits in Albany.
Though Braunstein’s current term ends on Dec. 31, he is running for re-election to the New York State Assembly. However, Sakelos said it’s time for a different perspective in leadership in Albany.
“I think the goal of the state Legislature is to get different sorts of talent and people from all walks of life to tackle the issues facing our state,” Sakelos said. “There’s no reason we should have the same 150 lawmakers going to Albany to represent us when they’re serving the same special interest groups.”
Sakelos was born and raised in Bayside, where his family owns a flower shop, Flowers by Peter. The business has been serving the community for over 50 years, and it’s where he learned firsthand the impact that public service and local legislation have on the working class people of New York.
According to Sakelos, he would like to replace the bail reform law with a responsible criminal justice reform that protects neighborhoods, while providing a second chance to non-violent offenders.
“It’s wreaking havoc on neighborhoods and it needs to be totally repealed and then replaced with something that is still compassionate,” Sakelos said. “It needs to be a plan that keeps us safe and doesn’t allow child predators or career criminals back out onto the streets the same day they’re arrested.”
Sakelos is a supporter of keeping Rikers Island open but does not support the construction of new jails in communities, he said.
When it comes to local economy and taxes, Sakelos said he would like to institute fair taxation to help middle-class families and small mom-and-pop businesses.
“They’re being strangled by an overly bureaucratic and over-regulated state, and money goes like people,” Sakelos said. “The reason why we’re having an exodus of the population is because it costs too much to live here.”
In terms of education, Sakelos said it’s in the best interest of parents and students for the State Assembly to enact legislation that will encourage educational choice programs via tax vouchers, credits and/or deductions for parents with children in charter or private schools.
Sakelos’ campaign is also in favor of keeping the Gifted and Talented Program in place.
“I would like to see standardized testing kept at a merit base,” Sakelos said. ”I don’t think the state should intervene with standardized testing in lowering or making the scores subjective to the school.”
Sakelos says he feels confident that the people of Assembly District 26 will trust him to represent them in Albany.
“The general election is about the person and not about the party,” Sakelos said. “I think my community is ready for a change in leadership. Any leadership is better than no leadership and what we’ve had for the past eight years is an empty seat.”