This year features some interesting Democratic primaries in Queens, including races for mayor, City Council and borough president.
Regarding the office of borough president, insurgent Robert Schwartz is challenging incumbent Helen Marshall, who is running for her third term. Last year, Schwartz ran for the state Senate in a Democratic primary against Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone). Although unsuccessful, he feels he achieved valuable experience, which he is putting to use in this year’s campaign. His petition drive to get enough signatures to gain ballot position is going well with a group of college students obtaining the required signatures.
Schwartz mentioned in this period of severe economic downturn that political leaders with business experience are needed. He points out that from 1978-92, he was president of the Dellwood Dairy Co. He indicated that during that period, he was instrumental in beginning the national program in which the pictures of missing children were placed on the side of milk containers.
He wants to maintain large and small businesses in Queens. He cited two examples. JetBlue will be moving out of New York in 2011 because of the high state and city taxes and its inability to get the city to grant it a tax break. A similar situation applies to a Pontiac dealer on Northern Boulevard that is closing due to high taxes and reduced sales. This will lead to a loss of jobs at both firms.
One major improvement he would like to see in Queens is elevated walkways built over Queens Boulevard, considering the number of death and injuries that have occurred in recent years involving vehicles and pedestrian accidents in that location.
Pertaining to Borough Hall itself, Schwartz believes there are too many people employed there in political patronage jobs. One of his first acts on becoming borough president would be to downsize the number of employees there. The money saved he would like to see spent on education and senior citizen centers.
Recently, a third candidate has entered this primary race in the person of Marc Leavitt, who raised a significant amount of money with his first fund-raiser. Years ago, he ran for a local school board position. There has been some speculation in various political quarters that Leavitt may have been put up as a candidate to take votes away from Schwartz and thereby diminish his chances of winning an upset victory over Marshall.
In addition to running for the Democratic Party nomination for borough president, Schwartz has also obtained the Queens Conservative Party endorsement. Therefore, even if he does not win the Democratic designation, he will still be running on the Conservative line for borough president in the fall election. When he appeared before the Queens Conservative Party Executive Committee, he gave an excellent presentation and appeared knowledgeable about city government.
Schwartz favors term limits for public office as he campaigns for elective office.
Summing up his campaign, Schwartz said, “I am going to be a full-time borough president. My office will be open to Queens residents and their problems. I will use my business experience to help improve our local economy.” He has also indicated his borough office would be open two evenings a week to assist Queens residents.
Schwartz has an ambitious agenda ahead of him as he continues to challenge the incumbent borough president. He has been campaigning since January of this year. He has further indicated he has campaigned in every neighborhood in Queens. Schwartz is a lifetime Queens resident and a graduate of Queens College.
©2009 Community News Group
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