Thursday, July 17, 2008

Addabbo Launches State Senate Campaign

Howard Beach Democratic Councilman Seeks Serf Maltese's Seat in Albany

By Patricia Adams

Not since 1974 have Democrats held the majority lead in the New York State Senate. But now, 34-years later, the Dems are poised to take back the reigns, and one local candidate is in the thick of the hunt.

City Councilmember Joe Addabbo Jr. has officially made the much anticipated announcement that he will challenge Republican incumbent Sen. Serf Maltese this November in the race for the seat in the 15th district.

The district includes the communities of Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Howard Beach, Ozone Park and others. As the seated councilmember already representing Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and parts of Woodhaven and the Rockaways, Addabbo is facing a primary challenge from attorney Albert Baldeo, who came dangerously close to ousting Maltese from his seat during the last race.

Addabbo’s campaign message seems to be focused on reformed change in Albany, where he says there is tumultuous change going on not normally seen there. “It’s a time for new vision, new energy,” Addabbo said. He also discussed his feelings about shortening his City Council term because of the feeling that he can do his best work in the State Senate right now.

“Republican senators are not poised to handle the progressive change that is occurring now and also very much part of the political horizon,” Addabbo explained. The son of the late Congressman Joseph Addabbo recanted words and lessons learned from his father. “My father taught me to never back down from a fight just because it was going to be difficult. I stand with the people of Queens and I will be their voice demanding that Albany finally eases our crushing tax burden, gives our schools their fair share and makes sure we can afford healthcare.”

In commenting on the incumbent, Addabbo says that in his campaigning thus far he has clearly established a link with constituents that are unsettled about the “disconnect” they feel with their present representation. “Everywhere I have been, knocking on doors and speaking to people, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, they are all giving me the same message. They feel as though there is no connection with the people and the present elected official.”

Addabbo went on to say that voters are sick and tired of elected officials whose presence is apparent only during election years. But part of his strategy is to bring with him to the Senate the foundation on which his political career has been based—a civic presence and a connection to the people every day of every year.

“I plan to be more vocal, more responsive at civic meetings, community boards and whatever it takes to keep more in tune with the community maintaining the established connection I am used to.”

Of primary concern to Addabbo, he says, is the need to make sure that vital legislation and bills no longer lay around the floor of the Senate because of the sluggish attitude of the Republican majority, or because the prime sponsors of bills are Democrats. Another focus Addabbo says is to integrate city and state resources so that key measures can be implemented for the benefit of New Yorkers.

“Legislation like that to supply pension increases for the FDNY and other city workers—is that something that should be passed over time and time again? What about Taylor law reform and mandatory requirements for out-of-state mail order prescriptions,” Addabbo asks. “Surely it is clear to see that these are things that must be addressed immediately and have not been done under the current rule in the Senate. We have much work to do and although it will be done under much scrutiny and many watchful eyes, now is the time to do it.”

In a campaign rally that took place on Saturday and traveled throughout key areas of the district he seeks to represent, Joe Addabbo was met at each stop by crowds of enthusiastic supporters. Addabbo was also joined by many elected officials in support of his candidacy. State Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer accompanied Addabbo to several of his campaign kick off stops where she spoke highly of her fellow Democrat.

“This is a difficult race for me,” Pheffer said, “I’ve enjoyed a good working relationship with Senator Maltese for over 20 years. However, I have also had the opportunity to work very closely with Joe Addabbo in his position as City Councilmember.”

Despite her good track record of working with Maltese, the bottom line is Pheffer is excited about the possibility of finally seeing control of the Senate returned to the Democrats. “Senator Maltese and I have worked on many projects together, but his support is for the Republican platform which I believe has outlived its right to control he Senate.”

Pheffer says that a change in the Senate majority is essential for the good of New York. “There are so many important bills that have been blocked by the Republicans in the State Senate. Now that we [Democrats] have an opportunity to gain control of the Senate we couldn’t have a better candidate to make a tremendous difference for all of us than Joe Addabbo.”

New York State Democratic Chairperson June O’Neill joined Addabbo at his announcement as did Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm A. Smith who spoke of his relationship with Addabbo. “I have known Joe and his family for years and am very excited that he has decided to take on this critical fight. He grew up in a tradition of family service and there’s no elected official who works harder or more effectively for their community.”

Make no mistake, this will be a tough race,” said Addabbo, “But for too long, the families here have watched their taxes go up and funding for schools go down. Our local economy is suffering while politicians in Albany simply brush our needs aside. I am running for State Senate to change the way business is done in Albany. It’s time to improve the way our government works for the people of this Senate district.”

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