“Nineteen days left,” Democratic City Council candidate Frank Gulluscio told a supporter who greeted him as he entered Sapienza Bagels and Deli in Howard Beach last Thursday for a buttered sesame bagel and coffee, referring to the scant time remaining before the Nov. 3 general election.
Gulluscio was recognized by several other voters during his breakfast in the community he has served for more than 30 years in roles that include schoolteacher, activist, district leader and aide to state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) when he was a city councilman.
In the past month he has highlighted his plans for his top issue: improving the area’s transportation if elected. He has hosted events in District 32 to lay out his proposed solutions for Rockaway commuters, announce his support for transportation bills currently before the Council and support eliminating the Cross Bay Bridge toll in order to benefit Rockaway businesses.
This race is Gulluscio’s second bid for elected office. He ran in the Feb. 24 special election to fill the Council seat vacated by Addabbo, but was taken off the ballot after petition challenges. Councilman Eric Ulrich (D-Rockaway Beach) won that race and is Gulluscio’s incumbent Republican opponent next month.
Gulluscio, 60, said he has been concerned about transportation issues in the area ever since he first delved into civics more than two decades ago, successfully advocating to have many of Howard Beach’s two-way residential roads changed to one-way in order to protect children.
Coming in as a close second are quality-of-life issues, which he said he also plans to address if he is elected to the Council.
“The city’s not perfect and the district is not perfect. There are things we need to do, from litter baskets to the nickel and diming of the middle class through excessive parking and traffic tickets,” he said.
As the winner of the Democratic primary, Gulluscio has the endorsements of many longtime New York Democrats, including Addabbo, U.S. Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) and Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson.
He has also been endorsed by many unions, including the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 and Uniformed Fire Officers Association.
He said if he is elected he will work with the community, establishing “grassroots connections ” and keeping his office staffed six days a week and late at night to address constituent concerns.
“One of my main goals is to bring the government to the people,” he said. “We’re the complaint department of New York City.”
When they head to the polls early next month, voters should consider Gulluscio’s extensive experience, he said, which will yield more benefits for the people of District 32 than the younger Ulrich has been able to bring.
“I bring to the table real-life experience. I’ve had business experience, government experience with City Hall, everyday experience working with agencies with Community Board 6, educational experience teaching kids, and neighborhood experience for 30 years as a community activist,” he said. “Above all, it’s real experience, not six-month stints.”
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2009 Community News Group
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