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Hevesi stresses ethics, schools in campaign

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State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) said despite the anti-incumbent sentiment that seems pervasive in areas across the country, he believes his platform focusing on education, quality-of-life issues and government reform should usher him to victory in the primary and general election.

Hevesi, who first took office in a special election in 2005, said his constituents seem pleased with the work he has done while in Albany — including fighting against cuts to education funding and the restoration of money for senior centers in the borough.

“It’s an anti-incumbent year, but it’s not as bad as people think,” Hevesi said in an interview at the TimesLedger offices. “I’ve had six to eight people say something about it out of the thousands of people I’ve talked to.”

He faces a primary challenge from Joe Fox, an attorney from Forest Hills, and Republican Alex Powietrzynski in the general election.

It was a difficult year in Albany, Hevesi said, due in part to contentious budget negotiations between the Assembly, state Senate and Gov. David Paterson that ended in August, four months later than lawmakers were supposed to pass the measure.

“This was a horrible year,” Hevesi said. “I like the governor on a personal level, but he’s been terrible. You couldn’t tell which direction he was going because he wasn’t running for election.”

Hevesi said he has been spending hours every day for the past several months campaigning door-to-door, during which time he said he has talked a great deal about education.

District 28 covers Forest Hills, Rego Park, Middle Village and Glendale.

“There was a $1.4 billion cut (to education) that came down this year that I voted against,” Hevesi said. “The governor pushed it through to our chagrin.”

The assemblyman said he has worked hard for schools in his district, pushing to make the new Metropolitan High School in Forest Hills locally zoned and allocating funds for PS 144 in Forest Hills.

Hevesi is also working to address residents’ concerns about railroad cars that often carry foul-smelling garbage in Middle Village. He is sponsoring legislation that would force the national transportation company, CSX, to place a hard cover over any of its cars carrying bad-smelling items as well as cover the cars carrying construction debris.

He was recently endorsed by Citizens Union, in part he said because he signed a pledge by New York Uprising, a non-partisan group formed by former Mayor Ed Koch that aims to “end corruption in Albany.”

“I’m the lead sponsor on a non-partisan redistricting reform bill,” Hevesi said. “I voted for ethics reform this year and I voted twice for campaign finance reform.”

Hevesi is now working on what he called “the most expansive proposal for renewable energy in the state.” The Renewable Energy Development and Jobs Act of 2010 would mandate all companies responsible for the transmission and delivery of energy in New York — such as utilities, public authorities and energy service companies — to incrementally increase the percentage of renewable energy they use every year.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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