City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) is shooting for a second term and after overcoming a mysterious opponent in the Democratic primary who flew in under the public radar until late in the election, will be facing Republican challenger Joseph Concannon.
Grodenchik said he is hoping to continue serving the needs of his constituents and working to address the issues of public transportation, patient oversight at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center by adhering to the philosophy that the “best politics is good government.”
“Half of all of our constituent complaints have to do with transportation in one form or another, so people want speed bumps, stop signs, traffic lights, so half the letters I sign are to [Queens Borough Commissioner of DOT] Nicole Garcia,” Grodenchik said. He described his recent work attempting to restore Q75 bus service, which ran from Bayside to Jamaica and was discontinued in 2010, and his opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s congestion pricing proposal to fund the MTA.
“I’m staunchly opposed to bridge tolls. I don’t think it is fair to the people I represent in eastern Queens. There is congestion all over the city, but my constituents don’t have as many [public transportation] options as other people.”
In terms of the patient oversight at Creedmoor, Grodenchik breaks from his opponent in that he believes the problem is not as severe as some in the district would believe. Many patients from Creedmoor who are seen off the grounds of the institution are actually in supportive housing and work, despite being known to panhandle. Grodenchik believes the panhandling takes place mainly in Glen Oaks.
Grodenchik said he has met with civic associations about the panhandling and has a meeting with the administration of Creedmoor about how the state police who specialize in keeping peace at the center can better care for the patients and see to the needs of residents in the area.
Some of Grodenchik’s goals for the next four years are to create more resources for emergency food pantries, supporting the needs of schools by allocating capital funds for technology and supplies and continuing to push for more mass transit options.
“In the last two budgets that I’ve been there for, we’ve increased emergency food funding by 65 percent, which is really important,” Grodenchik said. “This is the important city in the most important country in the world. Nobody should be going hungry. Over a million people a year are accessing food pantries, which is just mind-blowing.”
Grodenchik hopes to address the fact that his district is a transit desert with better bus service so his consituents can commute to Bayside and Jamaica more easil as well as Flushing, which has the nearest subway stop and connection to the Long Island Rail Road.
Grodenchik won the September primary election against Benny Itteera with 79 percent of the approximately 4,500 votes in his district.
Itteera entered the race stealthily, one Grodenchik staffer said, “popping up” just two weeks before Primary Day and hastily filing expenses with the Campaign Finance Board. Itteera did not seem to campaign beyond the South Asian population in the district, which stretches from Glen Oaks in east to the border of Fresh Meadows in the west. Oakland Gardens makes the northern boundary while Queens Village and Bellerose mark the southern border.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall
©2017 Community News Group
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