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Patrick Hurley, the president of a Woodside Republican club, is running for City Council against incumbent Eric Gioia (D-Woodside) on a platform that the community's middle-class residents are ill-served by the policies of the Council's overwhelmingly Democratic majority.
"I really believe that the vast majority of people who live in the district are working class, middle class, small property owners and small business owners," said Hurley, 40, an Irish immigrant who works as a security director for an international hotel chain. "They're not represented in city government and they need a voice in city government."
Gioia, 30, is running for re-election and won the backing of the Queens County Democratic Organization in the 26th District, which covers Woodside, Sunnyside, Long Island City and parts of Maspeth.
But Hurley, the president of the Regular Republican Club in the 30th Assembly District, sees Gioia's stance on issues as out of touch with the neighborhood he represents.
"His voting record shouldn't reflect the left-wing Democratic Party line," Hurley said in a phone interview Monday. "It should reflect the needs and interests of his constituency."
Speaking through his spokesman, Gioia defended his record as a councilman who sees beyond party lines.
"Councilman Gioia is proud of his accomplishments and wants to work together with all members of the community no matter what their political party," said Gioia's spokesman, Noah Arnow. "Working together, he knows we can improve our schools, make our neighborhood safer and make this a better place to live, work and raise a family."
Hurley said he finally decided to run when he walked out of his house one day to find that free Sunday parking had been eliminated in Woodside.
"I said enough is enough, this is ridiculous," Hurley said. "Another form of indirect taxation on the middle class."
Hurley opposes many of the revenue-increasing measures that the City Council approved to fill in the city's budget gap, like the 18.5 percent property tax hike and increases in the sales tax. He believes waste must be removed from city government - especially the school system - and that the economy must be revitalized, starting with the repeal of the smoking ban that "is killing the hospitality industry."
But when asked how he would deal with the city's deficit - whether he would choose to raise more revenue or cut down services like senior centers - he demurred.
"There must be some other way," he said. "But I certainly would not tax people or fine people to death."
Hurley believes that the residents of the overwhelmingly Democratic district are only registered in that party because "up until now at least they would disenfranchise themselves if they register as anything else because they never have a choice in the general election."
He sees his own candidacy as an opportunity to give voters greater choice at the polls come November. When Gioia ran for his first term in 2001, his only opponent in the general election was Ann Eagan of the Green Party, although he faced four other candidates in the Democratic primary in September.
"Now they're going to have a choice," Hurley said. "I think you'll find a lot of people will cross party lines."
He plans to run a street campaign, to go out and interact with the voters one-on-one.
"I'm going to appeal to the people," Hurley said. "I'm going to get out there, meet with them. I think they're going to come forward."
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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