Aubry draws on experience

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As state Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona) meets with residents throughout East Elmhurst and Corona in preparation for the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, he is trying to educate the public on not only what he has done in his 18 years in office, but why.

As the new fiscal year approached, New York state faced a $9.2 billion deficit, which required cuts to costs as well as increases in revenues, Aubry said. His work in the Assembly on the budget compelled him to make many difficult decisions and stay in Albany for much longer this year.

“You couldn’t rush a budget that had so many impacts on our state,” Aubry said.

Aubry, whose district covers Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and LeFrak City, faces an opponent for the first time in years in Democratic community activist Anthony Miranda. He said he has been making up for that time away from his constituents by going door-to-door, delivering the message of what the Assembly has accomplished.

He said large portions of the budget go to education, health and welfare, and reducing the state’s budget meant city officials would be forced to make major cuts to services like senior centers and libraries to make up the difference. Aubry said the Assembly has been able to forestall any “doomsday budgets” and come to a place where the budget is not imbalanced but money is spent where it needs to be.

“Even in these difficult financial times, you have an obligation to protect and preserve what can be protected and preserved,” he said.

Aubry, 62, was born in New Orleans, but his family moved to the East Elmhurst area six months after he was born. He attended college at the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico and afterward taught at the New Mexico State Penitentiary. In 1970, Aubry returned to East Elmhurst, where he lives with his wife.

“[I] came right here to this community: home,” Aubry said.

He started working at Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities Inc., a nonprofit community service agency, where he stayed for 16 years, eventually becoming the organization’s second executive director.

U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), endorsed Aubry Tuesday in a speech at Elmcor’s senior center.

The same year Aubry left Elmcor, he became the office director of economic development for then Borough President Claire Shulman from 1986to 1992. He left to run for the Assembly seat he now holds after Helen Marshall vacated it to run for City Council, winning 92 percent of the vote.

“There are very few things I’m not involved with where I haven’t served the people in some capacity,” Aubry said of his history.

Aubry said he believes he is the best candidate because of his significant experience in Albany and the major legislation he has passed in that time, such as the reform of the Rockefeller drug laws and sponsoring the United States Tennis Association’s National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

If re-elected, Aubry hopes to continue his work as the chairman of the Assembly Corrections Committee, particularly in the area of prisoners who move to treatment facilities. Other issues he wants to work on are job training, affordable housing and maintaining services such as libraries and senior centers.

He said he also supports assisted living for the elderly and trying to keep them in more personal settings and not in nursing homes as well as youth programs that help give young people guidance and give resources and assistance to their families.

“I love the community I live in and have served for the last 18 years,” Aubry said. “I’m committed to improving and enhancing the community, even in these difficult times.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 6:01 pm, October 10, 2011
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