Thursday, September 9, 2010

Miller and Comaianni Face Off in Assembly Primary

By Eric Yun

Nick Comaianni is mounting a strong challenge to incumbent Mike Miller for the New York State’s 38th Assembly District seat in the upcoming September primary election. Miller won the seat last year in a special election after longtime Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio resigned following his indictment for fraud.

The Local Businessman

Comaianni has been involved in local politics for years. He serves as the president of the Community Education Council 24 and is active in Community Board 9. “I know how things get done,” Comaianni said regarding politics.

When not serving on a volunteer elected board, Comaianni is a businessman in the construction and manufacturing field.

Comaianni decided to run after the insistence of friends and family. “Albany is out of touch with the common people,” he said. If elected, he would bring the sensibilities of the average person to the Assembly, he said.

Comaianni had collected signatures to be placed on the ballot for last year’s election to replace Seminerio, but was unable to continue his candidacy after Governor Paterson called for a special election. The decision to hold a special election meant the local Democratic Party was allowed to hand pick its candidate and decided to back Miller over Comaianni and several other candidates.

Frustrated with taxes being raised while services are being cut, Comaianni has several big plans to help schools, seniors and the economy.

One plan to help education involves allocating already existing tax money as a dedicated education fund. This way, funds meant to go towards education cannot be used as a last resort to fill a budget gap for another city service.

Seeing his parents struggle through life, Comaianni has a strong sense of responsibility to care for the community’s seniors. “We should never advance the economy on the backs of senior citizens,” he said. He doesn’t believe senior services should be cut after everything the seniors have already given to their community and country.

For the economy, Comaianni wants to stimulate the local economy by creating construction projects. However, “You have to make sure those projects go to the local community,” he said. He would create penalties and incentives to ensure general contractors don’t hire out of state workers.

Comaianni believes he can restore cut programs without raising taxes. “Tax increases should be a last resort,” he said. How does he intend to restore services without raising taxes? “We have a large enough budget to serve everyone if we cut failing programs and projects,” he said.

The 24/7 Assemblyman

Miller understands there’s plenty of mistrust in Albany, and notes that it is especially hard replacing a corrupt politician. “It’s a tough time following someone who broke the law,” he said. For this reason, Miller has been working hard to restore voter’s faith in the Assembly seat and the democratic process.

Miller, since taking office, has made it a point to fight for quality of life issues his constituents care about. After a string of car robberies, “The next morning I was on the phone [with the NYPD] demanding they step up patrols,” Miller said. He has developed a system to track 311 noise complaints so his office can track how well they are handled by the police. He hopes to expand the program to include other complaints in the future. He also included senior centers in his member item funding, and helped open a new senior center in Woodhaven.

The economy is a major issue, and Miller has spearheaded several efforts to help small businesses and bring jobs to the community. He strongly supports the Aqueduct project. “I made it clear [to Genting] that people of my district need to have a priority in getting jobs,” Miller said. Furthermore, he supported and worked with Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) to improve vacant storefronts and help small businesses throughout the neighborhood.

Education is also a major issue for Miller. Miller said he helped preserve education funding when more than two-thirds of the Assembly wanted to cut it from the budget. He also worked with other legislatures to ensure the state qualified for Race to the Top federal funding.

“Having spent the last year in Albany, I am the most experi- enced candidate,” Miller said. He understands how to maneuver bills through the Assembly and get things moving to help the community.

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