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Dutch Kills Civic hears from 6 Gioia candidates

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As petitioning began for this fall’s municipal elections, the Dutch Kills Civic Association got a visit from six hopeful successors to City Councilman Eric Gioia’s (D-Sunnyside) seat, including one previously unannounced candidate.

At a forum last Thursday, Newcomer Kwame Smalls, 25, a resident of the Ravenswood Houses and a student at LaGuardia Community College, introduced himself as a candidate.

“There’s a lot of problems going on in District 26 that need to be addressed,” he said, noting that as a legally blind person who uses Access-A-Ride, he is in touch with problems with city services. “I’m more passionate in getting things done.”

Smalls said in order to deal with the swine flu problem, he would have held Town Hall meetings featuring music and children’s sports to attract people from the neighborhood.

Angelo Maragos, the sole Republican candidate in the race, emphasized his desire to make city government smaller and more efficient. He also said he would work to bring to northwest Queens a program that currently offers grants to startup businesses in lower Manhattan.

The 24-year-old business analyst and Long Island City resident also assured the Dutch Kills members he thought the area was overdeveloped.

“It is not our intention to bring Manhattan to Queens,” he said of what he called the borough’s “up-and-coming, young professional population.”

Long Island City attorney Brent O’Leary said his experience as a business lawyer for Bloomberg LP would serve the district well and suggested establishing small business “incubator” centers and stimulating the development of high-tech and green jobs.

He also pledged to hold monthly Town Hall meetings with his constituents.

“That will keep me accountable,” he said.

Rosasco, who was the first to announce his candidacy for the seat last year, appealed to what he called “Blue Dog Democrats,” socially conservative members of the party, and criticized O’Leary’s plan to meet regularly with constituents.

“We have Town Hall meetings,” he said. “They’re called ‘community board meetings.’ Let’s all show up.”

He also said quality-of-life issues trump stances on state or national issues like gay marriage.

“We don’t need people from Ohio to tell us how to run our bus and our train system,” he said.

Council attorney Deirdre Feerick touted her 12 years of experience working with the Council on issues, including how to craft legislation. She touted her ability to reach out to opponents to get all perspectives on an issue.

“By finding the best legislation, you have to sit down with people you disagree with,” she said.

Feerick denied that being seen as an insider was a disadvantage.

“The people I answer to are the ones I see on the street,” she said.

Candidate Jimmy Van Bramer, external affairs director for the Queens Library, was not able to attend the meeting due to a death in the family. CB 2 Chairman Joseph Conley spoke in Van Bramer’s place, comparing him with former Councilman Walter McCaffrey, calling him “someone that’s ahead of the issues, not someone who’s waiting to find out what’s going on.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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