Alex Powietrzynski, a Republican running for state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi’s (D-Forest Hills) seat, grew up as communism was dissolving in Poland and cultivated a hyper-awareness of politics and its direct impact on people.
He was just 6 when he and his family left Poland for the United States, but he remembers well living at the tale end of communism and growing up listening to many stories of his relatives living under communism until its fall in 1989.
“My parents and grandparents had to wait in line for hours for bread,” recalled Powietrzynski, 26, of Forest Hills.
After witnessing history, Powietrzynski and his family moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and he went on to major in political science at SUNY Albany. Despite the role politics has played in his life, Powietrzynski said it was not until after college that he seriously entertained entering the political world.
“In college, I always followed national politics, and it was when I went to law school that I started noticing New York state government was full of people who had been there forever or who had been trained by other politicians,” he said. “It seemed like a club for people in the know and they weren’t open to outside ideas. For me, that became very disturbing.”
So Powietrzynski, who recently graduated from Fordham University School of Law, decided to jump into the race for Hevesi’s seat, representing the 28th Assembly District. The sole Republican in the race, Powietrzynski has lived in Forest Hills since he graduated from college in 2007.
The 28th District covers Forest Hills, Rego Park, Middle Village and Glendale.
Hevesi also faces a primary challenge from Democrat Joe Fox, an attorney from Forest Hills.
Powietrzynski said that during his campaign he plans to focus on job creation, lowering taxes, Metropolitan Transportation Authority reform and crime reduction — all while trying to get out his name in an area that is heavily Democratic. The GOP candidate has received the backing of the Queens Republican, Queens Libertarian and Queens Conservative parties.
“A lot of people say they’ll vote for this person because they recognize the name,” he said, referring to Hevesi. “I’ve been trying to meet people and talk to them about what I stand for. I’ve been going door-to-door and going to local community groups and that’s been fantastic. A lot of people are complaining to me that jobs are becoming very scarce and taxes are going up.”
If elected, he said he would work with the SUNY schools to continue and implement programs that graduate students ready to enter jobs in growing industries, such as clean energy.
“I also want to lower taxes for businesses so people can afford to do business in New York,” Powietrzynski said. “If there are lower taxes, they can hire more workers, pay better wages and provide benefits.”
The MTA is not run well, Powietrzynski said, and he said he wants to see the authority better document its finances and provide more transparent information about its revenues and spending to the public.
The candidate also said he hopes to work on quality-of-life crimes, such as graffiti.
“I’ve seen more graffiti around, and that’s an indication crime could be going up,” he said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson
©2010 Community News Group
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