2009-10-23 / Top Stories

Advocate Candidate Sees Outer Borough Outreach

Zablocki Visits Wave, Outlines Plan
By Howard Schwach

Public Advocate candidate Alex Zablocki outside The Wave office earlier this week. Public Advocate candidate Alex Zablocki outside The Wave office earlier this week. Republican Public Advocate candidate Alex Zablocki knows that his name is not well-known in Rockaway, but he came to The Wave last week to outline a plan that would allow "isolated communities who have not received their share of city services" to get their just due.

"I come from Staten Island," the 26-year-old candidate said. "I know how the residents of the outer borough are the forgotten people in New York City. I want to speak for those people, including the people of Rockaway, who need better commuter transportation and a say in how the peninsula is developed."

Zablocki told The Wave editorial board that he plans to decentralize the Public Advocate's office so that there are representatives in each of the boroughs.

"Now, anybody who wants to interact with the office has to go to Manhattan," he said. 'That's not the way to do it. I will have at least two representatives in each borough, working with the community boards in those boroughs to make sure that everybody gets the services they deserve."

When asked if the office he seeks should be eliminated, as the mayor and others have suggested, Zablocki says that "it depends on who is running the office," adding that he believes that the present Public Advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, was too "Manhattan-oriented," and did not properly perform the duties of the office.

"She ran the office like she wanted to run for mayor," he said. "She was very Manhattan and Brooklyn centered and she only went after high-profile issues." Zablocki added that some things will have to change if the Public Advocate is to be

able to do the job.

"The office needs to be independent," he said. "It needs an independent funding source and it needs to have subpoena power. If some city agency refused to turn over the records we need, we have to be able to subpoena those records."

"We can speak for the people," he added, but we have to be an independent voice."Zablocki said that his background will help him work with residents all over the city.

"I do not want to run for mayor," he said with a laugh. "I want to help people, and my background as a community organizer and working closely with a city councilman on zoning and transportation problems in Staten Island qualify me for the job, as does my finance degree from City College."

"I just want to be a voice for the regular city resident," he concluded. "I hope the electorate gives me that chance."

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