In a field crowded with Democratic candidates, 24-year-old Long Island City resident Angelo Maragos is not willing to be a footnote.
In a recent candidates’ forum at Sunnyside Community Services, a foe of the sole Republican in the race to replace City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) told the audience they would choose their next councilman in September.
“The decision is not made on Sept. 15,” Maragos replied. “The decision is made on Nov. 3.”
Born in Staten Island to Greek immigrant parents, Maragos moved to Long Island City five years ago while attending Cooper Union. He graduated two years ago with a degree in electrical engineering. He currently works as a financial analyst with Credit Suisse.
“I was around some of the smartest minds in the world,” he said of his college education. “It made me who I am. I feel so rewarded for having gone there and been in that environment. It really showed me what I am made of.”
Maragos also touted his experience in student government at Cooper Union as kick-starting his political aspirations, though he gave some credit to another young Republican, 24-year-old Councilman Eric Ulrich (D-Rockaway Beach).
“It takes leadership by example, and that’s what he did,” Maragos said. “He showed it was possible for a young person to be taken seriously by a mixed community, both young and old.”
With less experience than his older opponents, Maragos is relying on his platform to attract voters.
“I have formed my platform to be broad and appeal to as many people as possible,” he said, noting the district is overwhelmingly Democratic. “Obviously, I want to keep the themes of common sense, fiscal responsibility and people empowerment.”
Maragos wants to bring walk-in clinics to the district to ease the crowded emergency room at Elmhurst Hospital.
“Obviously, a councilman should always have the foresight to work toward getting a hospital to this district,” he said. “That’s going to take money. And we’re not in a position to be spending more. Our government is bloated as it is.”
Maragos would like to bring his financial acumen to the Council, hoping to cut 10 percent of the city’s budget to use for increased city services.
“That goal, to cut 10 percent of costs, that’s common in business,” he said. “They do that every two to four years.”
To stimulate the borough’s economy, Maragos foresees introducing to Queens a rent rebate program currently being tried in Lower Manhattan.
Maragos was also critical of Gioia, citing a recent analysis that showed he had a lower attendance rate than many in the Council.
“I understand that he may be busy being active in the community, but that’s not what I’m hearing from the people,” he said. “I think the City Council membership should be a full-time job.”
And although he trailed in fund-raising by a wide margin, according to recent state Board of Elections records — $17,185 compared with more than $70,000 raised by City Council attorney Deirdre Feerick and Queens Library External Affairs Director Jimmy Van Bramer — Maragos said he has made an impact with District 26 voters by going door-to-door.
“They’re enthused to see a young, new face, someone that is stepping up to represent them and help improve their quality of life,” he said. “Just the exercise of campaigning, I’ve enjoyed it very much.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cn
©2009 Community News Group
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