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Padavan runs on record in re-election bid

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State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) said he plans to run on his record of getting things done in Albany as he faces off against former City Councilman Tony Avella this fall, but he emphasized the need for new borough jobs as his top priority.

The senator said economic initiatives will be his focus if returned to the seat to which he was first elected in 1972. But he also said services for senior citizens, improvements to schools in his district and reforms in Albany were high on his list.

“I’m running on the basis of my record,” Padavan said, citing his work on Fort Totten, the Queens Farm Museum, the Alley Pond Environmental Center and Udalls Cove. “If there hadn’t been a Frank Padavan to make those things happen, they wouldn’t have happened. I don’t know if any senator can point that many accomplishments in their tenure.”

In an interview at the TimesLedger’s Bayside office, the senator said he has introduced more than 700 bills that have been passed into law.

He will face Avella, a Democrat who served on the Council from 2001-09 and ran in last year’s mayoral race, in the Nov. 2 election. The district covers a number of Queens neighborhoods, including Bayside, Douglaston, Queens Village, Bellerose, Flushing, Whitestone, Little Neck, College Point, Hollis, Jamaica Estates, Glen Oaks and Floral Park.

Padavan, who has knocked on more than 4,000 doors during the course of his campaign, said one key issue was driving his re-election bid this year: “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

“There have been 126 different taxes and fees imposed on the people of the state in the last two years — everything from motor bureau fees, income tax increases, sales tax, insurance, health care,” he said. “It’s Keynesian economics. The last thing we should be doing is to take money out of the economy by raising taxes. Small businesses are having trouble staying afloat.”

The senator said he believed the state spends as much as $52 billion per year on Medicaid and thinks some cuts can be made in that area.

“It’s a good program to help poor people get health care,” he said of the state’s Medicaid program. “But fraud is rampant. Our program is 70 percent higher than the national average. We spend more than $1 billion per week.”

He also said the state could save billions of dollars annually by consolidating some of its agencies and school districts as well as require a two-thirds super majority vote in the Senate before allowing tax increases.

Padavan said another priority for him was to combat overcrowding at schools in Districts 25, 26 and 29.

“The problem with new schools is where to build them,” he said. “The emphasis should be expanding the property of existing schools.”

In terms of Albany’s dysfunction, the senator said he thinks the state is in need of fiscal reform. He has been frustrated by the delayed budget process in the state Legislature.

“We need a two-party system and I don’t care what two parties you’re talking about,” said Padavan, who is currently vice president pro tempore of the Senate. “There need to be checks and balances.”

So far, the senator has been endorsed by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the New York League of Conservation Voters, the Detective Investigators Association of the City of New York, municipal workers union District Council 37, the Civil Service Employees Association and Teamsters Local 812.

Avella has gotten the nod from the Freelancers Union, Empire State Pride, UFCW Local 500 and a number of Queens elected officials, such as Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and former city Comptroller and mayoral candidate William Thompson.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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