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As one of only four Republicans on the City Council, Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) was the sole member of the Queens delegation not selected to lead one of the Councils many committees.
The breakdown came as no surprise since the council system all but precludes representatives in the minority party from landing chairmanships.
But Gallagher, who began his first two-year term on the Council this month along with 13 other rookies from Queens, said his committee assignments put him in a good position to effectively represent the 30th Council District, which includes the communities of Middle Village, Ridgewood and Glendale in addition to parts of Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Forest Hills.
I got what I feel are excellent assignments to work within the committee system to protect the interests of the community that I represent, Gallagher said in a phone interview Monday afternoon.
Gallagher was named a member of four committees: finance, aging, youth services, and civil service and labor.
Among his 13 Democratic colleagues from Queens, 11 were awarded committee chairmanships and two were named to subcommittee leadership posts by newly elected Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan).
Although his party affiliation prevented him from chairing any of the committees, being in the minority has its perks, Gallagher was quick to point out.
Im proud that I am a Republican thats representing this district, like one previously represented this district, Gallagher said, alluding to his predecessor, Tom Ognibene, under whom he served as chief of staff. Ognibene and every other member of the Queens delegation were prevented by term limits from seeking re-election.
Theres a benefit to being a Republican in this City Council because we still have a Republican governor and a Republican president as well as a Republican mayor, he said.
He also stressed that his vote carries as much weight as that of every other member on the committees.
Certainly being a Republican may not be as much of a disadvantage as some people may think it is, Gallagher said. Each individual, whether you be a chairman or you be a member, still maintains the same vote on that committee.
As a member of the finance committee, which plays an integral role in the budgeting process, Gallagher said he looks forward to offering his input in light of the fact that we have many difficult decisions to make because of budget cuts.
With his other three committee assignments, Gallagher said he will be able to represent the interests of three distinct parts of his communitys population: youth, senior citizens and the working family.
The primary function of each committee is to review legislation and oversee city agencies that relate to its area of interest.
With budget cuts looming, Gallagher said his committee assignments will enable him to help make determinations and tough decisions as to what programs should be cut and what programs should be maintained and, in some cases, enhanced.
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2002 Community Newspaper Group
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