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Grassroots campaigns start close to the ground, and one Woodside resident is taking that to heart.
After announcing his candidacy for City Council on the Democratic ticket in May, David Rosasco started things off by cleaning the garbage underneath the No. 7 train's 61st Street Station in his home community.
"I realize that if you really want to get involved with government, you have to do it almost as a personal punishment," he said in an interview at the TimesLedger offices. "I'm not running to be the leader of a community. I'm running to be their servant."
The 36-year-old Woodside native returned to the neighborhood four years ago after spending 12 years as an interpreter in Japan for the Sanyo Electric and NEC corporations.
"When you work the way they work and live the way they live, you see very quickly what they do with no resources, with nothing," he said. "They use all of their human talent. Seven days a week working is not much of a problem. People will happily do that."
Rosasco now runs his own translation business, Nichibei Translations, out of offices in Woodside and Japan.
His campaign, which had not disclosed the results of any fund-raising by press time Tuesday, is focused chiefly on small quality-of-life issues like graffiti, litter and clogged catch basins — issues that he said transcend party politics. He had no declared opponents yet, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board.
"Quality of life, I think, binds everyone," he said. "There's no Republican pothole and there's no Democratic graffiti."
In Long Island City, where a real estate boom has seen an explosion of new high-rise condominiums, Rosasco wants to focus on the development block by block.
"The infrastructure has not caught up to the development of the condos and the co-ops," he said. "When you have urban development, it should be in stages so that one area is developed before you move on to the next one."
Rosasco also advocates ending the practice of architects self-certifying building plans and wants to get Con Edison to evaluate building plans for electricity consumption before construction.
"We don't want to see future brownouts where the lights are out for a week," he said.
In Sunnyside and Woodside, another problem is absentee landlords and affordable housing. Rosasco wants to post the tax returns of owners of multi-family buildings larger than four units online to encourage transparency.
"A big argument for owners is that costs are going up," he said. "But considering the human life element in a building, the owners should have an obligation to show the public exactly... what the financial picture is of the building."
Rosasco also had words of praise for the current area city councilman, Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside), who will be term-limited out in 2009.
"I think Gioia blazed the path for a person like me," he said, referring to the councilman's busy schedule. "People feel anointed to be put in positions of power. 'I served on a Democratic club, I served on a Republican club. I put my time in.' Was it time, or was it just existence?"
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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