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Queens politicos say this New Year’s they mean it

As Queens residents wake up Jan. 1 and tackle the ambitious New Year’s resolutions they set for themselves over the last few weeks, they can at least take some comfort in the fact that many of the borough’s elected officials are facing the same challenges — and then some.

In interviews this week, a cross-section of Queens’ movers and shakers outlined goals for the new year that ranged from the mundane to the grandiose.

“I want to get back to the gym and get more sleep,” said City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria). “But I think everybody has those two.”

His colleague, City Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village), also promised to pursue athletic goals.

“I want to improve on my three-point jump shot and take the ball to the hole much stronger,” Gallagher said.

The councilman has played in a basketball league with the Reiff Park Sports Association for the past 10 years and was set to compete in the championship game Monday night.

But the men and women who represent Queens also had a host of tasks before them that were far beyond the everyday goals of most voters.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), for instance, said his New Year’s resolutions included bringing democracy to Iraq and getting the nation’s fighting men and women home as quickly and safely as possible.

He also pledged to try to help elect a Democratic Congress and president in the 2004 elections.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown promised “to continue to do all that I can to keep crime down and improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods.”

State Sen. George Onorato (D-Astoria) set himself a five-point agenda that included pollution reduction, obtaining more school aid for the city and — in what some might call a long-shot resolution — bringing in the state budget on time for the first time in nearly 20 years.

“We’re the only state in the nation to hold this record for late budgets,” Onorato said. “And it’s a distinction we don’t need.”

City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis), chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee, was equally ambitious, hoping to finish budget negotiations with a surplus rather than a deficit this year.

And state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said, “I am going to work hard in the new year to make sure that our streets remains safe and the quality of our education improves, as well as the quality of life of western Queens residents.”

But even those with ambitious professional goals also made allowances for important personal matters.

Crowley — when he is not bringing democracy to Iraq or winning the White House back from the Republicans — intends to spend more time with his 4-year-old son Cullen and his 3-year-old daughter Kenzie.

And Onorato said he would, “take more time our to appreciate the great outdoors ... particularly at the 18th hole.”

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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