2010-07-09 / Top Stories

Paez Dips Toe Into Politics In Run Against Pheffer

By Howard Schwach

Dr. Harold Paez at The Wave office last week. Dr. Harold Paez at The Wave office last week. Rockaway resident Harold Paez is not your usual political candidate.

First of all, he is not a politician, but a DPM, a doctor who specializes in foot and ankle problems at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx.

Secondly, he’s a Republican running in an assembly district with an overwhelming Democratic registration.

And, he a Conservative who happens to be Hispanic and speaks Spanish fluently.

Why, then, is he jumping into the Assembly race against longtime incumbent Audrey Pheffer?

“I have had a growing concern for some time about the fiscal problems on the national level and how they translate to the state and city level as well,” Paez told The Wave last week. “We’re just spending too much and the deficit continues to grow. It’s going to impact my family and my two kids as they grow older. In New York State, we face the highest tax level in the nation. The spending is getting out of hand, and business people are fleeing the state. I thought that I had to get involved.”

“The voters deserve a choice,” he added. “Most of the time, the Democratic candidates run unopposed. That’s not good for democracy.”

Paez doesn’t believe that his move from medicine to politics is anything unusual, pointing out that the Declaration of Independence was signed by five doctors.

“We have a history of people moving from the private sector, from medicine and business, into the political arena. It’s a tradition in America,” he said.

What is his platform? Like most politicians, he has a plan. His contains five major points.

His first, and major goal is to restore fiscal responsibility to the state government.

“This three-men in a smoky back room has to end,” he said. “I have a long-term vision to bring the budget back in line. I want to see a solar panel park in Bayswater. I want us to be energy efficient.”

Number two is economic development.

“We have to bring jobs to Rockaway. in our ocean and our bay, and we are not using that for economic development,” he said. “We have the airport nearby, we have all sorts of ways of addressing job development that is not being done.”

Number three is the improvement of the public schools and adult education as well.

“We need to take politics out of the schools, to concentrate on increasing tuition grants and giving people choices,” said Paez. “We need job training and an improved educational system.” Then comes the issue of crime.

“Perhaps crime should be further up, because it’s a large issue. We have to expand the DNA database and develop programs that monitor domestic violence,” he said.

“We live in a high-crime area and we have to develop programs that address gun violence and teen crime.”

Finally, comes health care reform.

“I have been a doctor for 16 years, and there is way too much spending on Medicaid and other health programs in New York State,” he said. “I know we have lots of needy people, but something has to be done to address the runaway spending in the health care area.”

“There is lots of fraud and lots of waste in that area – transportation of patients, tests, durable medical equipment – lots of fraud.”

Does he think that he can beat Pheffer, who has held the office for nearly 20 years?

“The voters are angry and it’s a bad year for incumbents,” he said. “Our state legislature has been declared the most dysfunctional in the nation. People are upset and I would not get into the race if I didn’t think I have a chance to win. [City Councilman Eric] Ulrich proved that it can be done, and this is the year for a challenge.”

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