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Comaianni pushes reform in race for Assembly seat

State Assembly candidate Nick Comaianni is running on a platform of reforming education, boosting small businesses, cutting wasteful spending and taxes and addressing quality-of-life issues in his primary election battle against Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven).

Comaianni, a member of Community Board 9 and chairman of the board’s youth and education committee who has also been the president of Community Educational Council 24 for seven years, intended to run in a Democratic primary against Miller for former Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio’s seat last year, but gave up his bid when Gov. David Paterson called a special election for the seat.

“This year is an actual election for the Democratic primary,” Comaianni said, referring to the uphill battle he would have been faced with if he had run in the special election. This would have required him to carry independent nominating petitions in a short amount of time after Miller got the backing of the Democratic Party.

“Last year, three people in a backroom decided who was going to be the Assembly person, giving the incumbent a big edge,” Comaianni said, referring to the district leaders who chose Miller for the Democratic line.

As the president of CEC 24, Comaianni said he understands the educational needs of the district, which includes Glendale, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park.

“Education is a big issue,” he said during an interview at his campaign headquarters on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale. “There’s a lot of fixing of the education system that we need to do for New York City.”

Comaianni said the state funding formula for education is unfair, saying the city pays more in taxes than it receives in funding.

He noted that District 24 has more overcrowded schools than anywhere in the city and credited CEC 24 with opening either 14 new schools or extension to schools in the last seven years.

Comaianni said CEC 24 is pushing for another seven schools to open in the district.

He said the idea that schools with higher percentage of students who receive free or reduced lunch get more funding is unfair and said all students should receive free lunches.

“We pay enough in taxes in this state and in this city that that’s something we deserve,” he said. “How much can we tax the people? You’re going to tax their kids as well?”

He slammed the state budget for including $800 million in taxes and suggested $800 million worth of wasteful programs be eliminated instead.

Helping small businesses and creating jobs are other important issues in the district, Comaianni said, pointing out he is a small business owner himself.

“I look all around the neighborhood ... and I see businesses closing everywhere,” he said.

Comaianni said inspectors from city agencies have been showing up to small businesses five times a year to see if they can hand out any fines, saying it is “coming to the point of harassment.”

“We have to be business-friendly,” he said.

Comaianni said more needs to be done to insure that contractors for state projects, which are usually large, multimillion-dollar corporations, hire subcontractors from within the state instead of New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Connecticut.

“The bottom line is keep the business in New York,” he said, noting that most small business owners employ locally. “If you want to stimulate the economy, it’s not done by raising taxes — it’s done by creating jobs.”

Comaianni said the district is also suffering from quality-of-life issues, such as fewer sanitation pickups on the district’s main thoroughfares.

“As we cut services, it affects the quality of life,” he said.

If elected, Comaianni said he would be an independent-thinking Democrat in the Assembly.

“I will work with everyone because I’m a team player, but I won’t stay silent when it comes to items of my district,” he said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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