Female community leaders and elected officials endorsed Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) for re-election at a Monday rally in front of the entrance to Fort Totten.
Among those offering support were Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing). But also in attendance was Center for the Women of New York founder Ann Jawin, who said funds from Vallone’s district have helped her organization operate and grow.
“As a husband and father of two wonderful daughters, I am very aware of the issues that affect women throughout our city,” Vallone said. “I am proud to fight for legislation and initiatives that protect and empower women in their personal and professional lives. All the great work that we’ve accomplished in my first four years could not have happened without the help and support of all the women standing here with us today. I look forward to another four years of productive partnership as we continue to fight for Northeast Queens.”
Some speakers at the rally made references to the national political climate and expressed the need for more support at the city and state level to protect women’s rights.
“We need strong allies in City Hall to protect women’s right to choose, to work for women in the workplace, to care and to advocate for more paid family leave,” Rozic said. “These are all things Paul Vallone has stood for and has fought for. ... If there is anything we’ve learned in the last few months, it’s that we need strong allies and advocates right here at home in New York.”
Jawin, whose organization has operated out of Borough Hall for the last few years, has received critical finances through the councilman’s office to renovate their new facility, which will be a landmarked building within Fort Totten. Since 1987, her organization has been helping women overcome incidences of abuse and offers programs which help victims develop life-skills to become more independent.
“We are all here as a community endorsing a man who really has done us proud in the New York City Council,” Katz said. “I’ve known the Vallone family a long time and public service is in their blood. And no matter which position they hold, or no matter what neighborhood they are coming from, the Vallone family has truly put their heart and soul into the city of New York. Paul has proven on his own to be such a great member of the City Council.”
Katz added that some of Vallone’s most important work in government has been advocating for seniors.
“As we approach the 100-year-anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in New York, it is vital that we reflect on the strides women have made, but also where inequality still persists,” Stavisky said. “Unfortunately, this presidential administration has proven inefficient in furthering equality for women, but I have seen everyday people, as well as state and city elected officials, take up the mantel and continue to push for equality for all. That is why it is imperative we continue to elect true progressives, like Councilman Vallone, who are proven allies for minority and disenfranchised groups. As a progressive Democrat and a woman, I can think of no better person to represent the 19th City Council District.”
Vallone has also allocated over $375,000 to the Domestic Violence Empowerment initiative, also known as DOVE, during his time in office.
Wrapping up his first term in office, Vallone is facing opponent Paul Graziano, who he beat in a five-way primary in 2013. Graziano is a land-use expert who touts the accomplishment of getting more than 1,300 homes in Broadway-Flushing added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall