More than 100 members of the Queens Village Republican Club turned out Sunday to simultaneously celebrate its 125th anniversary and the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, but the speakers at the dinner focused as much on the party's future as its past.
At a fund-raising dinner at Antun's catering hall in Queens Village, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio (R-Babylon) discussed ways the Republican Party could attract new members and assailed the political philosophies of the Democratic Party, which is by far the dominant party in Queens.
"We need to educate people about what we stand for and what we do," said Padavan.
Padavan said he could not understand why so many new immigrants choose to become Democrats since Republicans represented the party of a work ethic, responsibility, and family cohesiveness.
Once a solid white, middle-class territory, Queens Village and surrounding areas are now, to a large extent, comprised of new immigrants and middle-class blacks who overwhelmingly vote Democratic.
Padavan said registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-to-1 in his own state senate district. Yet Padavan, who was first elected in 1972, has continually been re-elected despite the demographic realignment of his district.
He said party members have to be ready for tough, crucial fights in upcoming state and federal elections.
"We have to keep Hillary out of New York," said Padavan, referring to the U.S. senate race between First Lady Hillary Clinton and Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Lazio spoke at length, weaving together stories of his grandmother's immigration from Italy with his interpretation of Republican ideology.
Lazio attacked excessive government funding of social programs and championed school vouchers as an alternative to public education.
"Government should not take 25 percent of your money," Lazio told the audience.
"We're about individual communities making their own decisions," Lazio said. "They're about keeping the reins of power for themselves," he said, referring to the Democratic Party.
He described how his father never was a rich man, but by working and maintaining his own business, he was always able to provide for his family.
"The profit motive is the single greatest tool for economic advancement the world has ever known," Lazio said.
The Queens Village Republican Club was founded in 1875 by a group of local farmers in what was then a rural area, according to literature released by the club. In the 1950s and 1960s the club had a large membership and propelled a number of candidates into office.
During the 1980s the club almost ceased to exist due to lack of membership, but it now has 250 members.
©2000 Community News Group
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