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Astoria’s De Stefano centers campaign on safety

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For the entire time Danielle De Stefano has lived in Astoria, her city councilman’s last name has been Vallone.

“There was always a Vallone there,” she said. “I always liked the way they did things.”

That was why De Stefano said she saw an impending vacancy as her opportunity to fill the shoes of current Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) with a similar approach to governing. While she might not be running under the same party affiliation, she said she planned on maintaining many of Vallone’s core values as the race’s only Conservative and Independence candidate.

De Stefano, 37, said she has kept a healthy working relationship with the Vallones’ Council office as a volunteer and wanted to continue their styles of leadership. The volleyball coach, mother of three and fourth-generation Astorian said she could hit the ground running because of her familiarity with the urban district.

She even played on the same volleyball team as her possible predecessor as well as his brother, Flushing attorney Paul Vallone.

“I have already been active with community service through Peter Vallone’s office,” she said. “I want to follow suit on how he did things.”

The term-limited Vallone Jr. was elected to the seat in 2001 and succeeded his father Peter Vallone Sr., who represented the same Council district from 1974-2001.

De Stefano said she was a big fan of Vallone’s priorities, which revolved around public safety, protecting small businesses, adequate senior housing and cleanliness throughout the 22nd District, which includes Astoria, Long Island City and parts of Jackson Heights.

When asked which issue helped her most decide to run, De Stefano said she thought the NYPD needed a strong advocate representing the district. She set herself apart from some of her opponents in the race by opposing the controversial Community Safety Act in the Council, which sought to appoint an inspector general to oversee the department’s stop-and-frisk operations.

“I’m for it,” she said of stop-and-frisk. “I think there has to be guidelines and proper training. But my neighborhood is definitely safer than it was because of it.”

If elected to the Council, she said she would continue that same style by working to increase the number of cops on the streets — particularly between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., when students are returning home from school.

De Stefano said she would also work to make her district’s small businesses less vulnerable to various city fines, especially those that result from what she called a flawed restaurant grading system.

She entered the race back in April, putting her name in with several others vying for Vallone’s soon-to-be vacant seat as the incumbent runs for borough president.

Other candidates who have already entered the contest include Democratic District Leader Costa Constantinides, Democrat John Ciafone, Democrat Constantino “Gus” Prentzas, Green Party candidate Lynne Serpe and former New York Young Republican Club President Daniel Peterson.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 1:52 am, August 23, 2013
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