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Political Action: Addabbo’s role as a senator based on constituents’ views

In the 15th State Senate District in western Queens, Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) has represented the people of that area for the past year after winning a decisive victory over former Sen. Serf Maltese in 2008. Maltese had represented the district for 20 years. Addabbo does not credit President Barack Obama with his 2008 election success, but believes the voters of his district wanted change.

Having served in the City Council for seven years before going on to the Senate, he compares the two legislative bodies this way: The Council is one legislative group while the Senate has to deal with the state Assembly. He believes that in the Council there is more of a cooperative effort. Everyone knows their roles. In the Senate this past year, a situation developed where some members did not know their roles and put forth their own agenda, which led to a breakdown of the legislative process.

Regarding his vote against the gay marriage bill, he pointed out that of those who expressed an opinion, 74 percent of his constituents opposed passing a law favoring gay marriage. He believes that on this issue he should support his district’s majority viewpoint.

Addabbo is a member of the Senate Standing Committee of Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. In that capacity last year he sponsored a bill that gave cities and towns the authority to offer higher property exemptions to Cold War veterans. This would give tax credits to Cold War veterans that are offered to other veterans. It passed the Senate unanimously.

As he did when he was a member of the Council, Addabbo has a 24-hour hotline to his office that his constituents can call about problems in their areas. It has proven to be effective. He also has sent out questionnaires to his constituents asking what they consider the most important issues and to rate the quality of public service they are getting in education, public safety, transportation, street conditions and sanitation.

His legislative goals for 2010 include property tax reduction and protecting small businesses. He is also promoting job fairs to help people out of work obtain employment. He has one job fair scheduled for March and intends to have another in August.

Addabbo and other senators have encouraged low-cost student loans by trying to get the State of New York Mortgage Agency to issue $350 million in tax-free bonds to finance new fixed-rate loans of up to $10,000 per student annually.

Turning to the forthcoming electoral process, it is possible Addabbo will face a primary challenge from within the Democratic Party. He has indicated he will be prepared for a primary; if it materializes, he expects to win.

In a statement to the people of his district, Addabbo said, “It has been an honor to represent my people in Albany. Although we face difficult times, I know we can get through them by working together.”

On another front, a recent letter to the editor from a reader commented on my Dec. 17 column, which focused on the activities of conservative protest groups, especially in the New York urban area. I presented the reasons why they protest and to some extent compared them with the protest groups from the 1960s. I did not give my views on their issues, much less as facts, as the reader indicated.

At TimesLedger Newspapers, we welcome dissenting viewpoints from those readers who wish to express them. We can disagree without being disagreeable.

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