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U.S. Rep. Meeks seeking re-election in S. Queens

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U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) has a simple campaign strategy that he is hoping will win him re-election this November—consistency.

“It’s not too much different than what I’m doing now,” he said. “I’m just making sure that what I’ve accomplished and what we’ve done gets out there.”

Meeks, who is facing opposition for the Democratic primary from Rey Clarke, a Far Rockaway resident, is running for his second full term in the House of Representatives. His district covers southeast Queens, including Laurelton, Bellerose, Hollis, Jamaica, Far Rockaway, Springfield Gardens, St. Albans, South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, and Queens Village.

The district boundaries were altered slightly due to redistricting legislation this year, although Meeks retained all his communities and all the ethnic diversity, he said.

“It’s a very multicultural district,” he said. “It is really more of a microcosm of the rest of the borough than ever before.”

Meeks, 48, who lives in Far Rockaway, was elected to Congress in February 1998 through a special election, after the Rev. Floyd Flake stepped down from the office. He was re-elected to his first full term in November 1998, when he ran unopposed.

Since then Meeks has brought funds into the district for literacy programs at area high schools and economic development to downtown Jamaica and the Rockaways, he said. He has also been an advocate for air travel, and wrote legislation to increase air service from Kennedy and LaGuardia airports to communities in upstate New York, including Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester.

But the district still needs a lot of work, Meeks said, pointing to education and affordable housing as two of the trouble spots.

“We’ve got to fight to improve the overall education system in our area,” he said. “We’re not doing nearly as well as we should be doing.”

Meeks also wants to continue the development of affordable housing, especially for low-income families struggling with the precarious economy, he said.

“The economy is now on a downswing,” he said. “It is having a deeper impact on those who have the least.”

Born and raised in East Harlem, Meeks earned degrees from Adelphi University and Howard Law School. He served as an assistant district attorney in Queens, and later as a special narcotics prosecutor for the city. He served as a state assemblyman for five years before his election to Congress.

Meeks sits on the financial services and international relations committees and is the Congressional Black Caucus whip.

Although Meeks is favored in the Democratic primary as the incumbent, he takes any challenge seriously, he said.

“This is the business we’re in. I’ll match my record with anybody running. Come January of 2003 I’ll be sworn in again in the greatest congressional district in the United States.”

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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