DeSena runs for Assembly as a reformer

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Marco DeSena, the Republican and Conservative parties’ nominee in the special election to replace retired state Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn in the 27th District, says he will be “the citizen legislator” if elected, working to represent his constituents and to reform politics as usual in Albany.

Pledging to retire from the Assembly after three two-year terms if elected, the College Point man said if he is elected, he would work with people of all political leanings to address the systemic problems that plague the state Legislature.

“I will band together with other reform-minded legislators. We have all these caucuses, what we need is a reform caucus. Albany is a dysfunctional place and we need people who have other experiences to come to Albany and reform it because those who are there aren’t up to the task,” DeSena said in an interview with TimesLedger Newspapers Monday. “I don’t need any more friends. I want to go there and make a difference. I would go there an outsider and stay an outsider.”

A small-government conservative, DeSena said jobs and the economy would be his top focuses if he is elected, but that tax, budget and ethics reform would also be key aspects of his plan to work with other legislators to change how state government is run.

He said one of the key reasons he decided to enter the race — for which he said the Queens County Republicans chose him as its nominee via a “lightning-fast” process — is what he perceives as an exodus of residents from New York due to the burdens government puts on them.

As a result of that phenomenon and his small-government approach, he promised Monday not to vote to raise taxes if elected to the Legislature.

“People in this district feel as if they are being priced out of New York, and that’s the city and the state. They feel like they’re getting nickeled and dimed by government,” DeSena said. “Not only do they feel like they’re getting priced out, they also feel like they’re not getting anything in return.”

His Democratic opponent in the race is Michael Simanowitz, former chief of staff to Mayersohn, who was the district’s assemblywoman for 28 years before she stepped down in April. The 27th includes parts Flushing, College Point, Pomonok, Fresh Meadows, Electchester, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill.

DeSena, 30, has lived his entire life in College Point except for a year in London. He works as a freelance communications consultant and teaches courses at Baruch College, where he received a bachelor’s degree in public affairs after graduating from St. Francis Preparatory School. After graduation, he participated in the city’s Urban Fellows Program before attending the London School of Economics, where he received a master’s in comparative politics.

But he was involved in government before that, falling in love with the field while Rudy Giuliani was mayor. He said he was inspired by the former mayor’s style of taking government to the people and the ways his policies affected the city and has since worked on a number of Republican campaigns.

As the Sept. 13 election approaches, DeSena said he wants to meet as many people as possible in his district and to get the word out about the election and his views.

“My goal is to meet people, knock on doors, go to barbecues and garage sales, and tell them why I’m running, ask about their concerns and ask for their votes,” he said.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 11:32 am, October 12, 2011
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