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Weiner hits streets to learn concerns of neighborhoods

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With his district shifting further into Queens, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) said he is mounting an effort to learn about the issues most important to his future constituents in northeast and central sections of the borough.

Next year due to redistricting, Weiner’s congressional District 9 will move into parts of Fresh Meadows, Kew Gardens Hills, Hillcrest, Jamaica Hills, Auburndale, Oakland Gardens, and Bayside. It will also keep its hold on Forest Hills, Rego Park, Ridgewood, Middle Village and Maspeth.

In the coming months he will be attending civic meetings, talking with community leaders and trading views on local as well as national policy with residents in the new neighborhoods, Weiner said.

“Anyone who doesn’t know me now will certainly know me down the line,” he said.

In the fall election for his district, Weiner has no opponent in the Democratic primary but will face Alfred Donohue, who has the backing of the Republican and Conservative parties.

“It’s a great assignment, but there’s a great deal I have to do to prepare. A lot of it is just by going out and being around” in the new communities, said Weiner.

Weiner, who was elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, said next year Queens and Brooklyn will evenly split his district. Currently about 30 percent of his district is made up by Queens communities and 70 percent by Brooklyn, he said.

“This really is a neighborhood where I’m a freshman and I have to earn my stripes.”

The new district maintains a similar demographic composition as the current one, with 64 percent of the population identifying themselves as white, 15 percent as Asian, 14 percent as Hispanic and 4 percent as black.

When redistricting plans were being formed, Weiner expressed some disappointment that he would have to abandon Howard Beach, but in a phone interview last week he said he was happy to move into Fresh Meadows and the surrounding communities.

“I really can’t complain. Many of my colleagues point to me as the big winner in redistrict­ing,” Weiner said, adding that he believed his new communities are some of the best in the city.

The congressman, who grew up in Brooklyn, said he would address several issues that specifically affect the new communities in his district, including traffic problems near St. John’s University, neighborhood zoning concerns, and the state of Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows.

On the city level, Weiner said he hopes to continue working on problems with overcrowding in schools, overdevelopment in residential neighborhoods, and pollution. He also said he will have a dialogue with constituents on national issues like the state of the economy, the war on terror, and corporate responsibility.

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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