2013-03-01 / Top Stories

Mayoral Candidate Comes To Rockaway

By Dan Guarino

Mayoral candidate meets with Wave publisher Susan Locke and editor-inchief Kevin Boyle. (Photo by Dan Guarino) Mayoral candidate meets with Wave publisher Susan Locke and editor-inchief Kevin Boyle. (Photo by Dan Guarino) Under the slogan “Five Boroughs-One Future,” Sal Albanese is running for mayor of New York City.

On Monday, February 25th, he visited The Wave to discuss his views on Rockaway and citywide issues, such as tolls, transportation and economic development.

“I want to think grand as mayor,” he said. “With community input you can do something grand.”

“I am not a career politician,” Albanese pointed out, emphasizing the new perspective he would bring to the office.

Born in Italy, he emigrated to the U.S. as a child. At eight years old, he moved to Park Slope, Brooklyn.

“This city has been very good to me,” he said, citing among other things his CUNY education and the support of the public library system.

Albanese worked as New York City public school teacher for eleven years.

In 1982, he ran for and won a seat on the City Council. As a councilman, he served on the Public Safety, Education, and Transportation committees and was re-elected four times.

In 1997 he launched an unsuccessful bid for Mayor.

For the past fifteen years, he has worked in the private sector in the legal and financial fields, notably as Managing Director for Mesirow Financial.

In detailing his priorities as a current mayoral candidate, high on his list is a comprehensive transportation plan, including what he calls “fair tolling.”

“You’ve got areas of the city that have little or no mass transit and huge tolls, and other areas that have nothing in terms of tolls and plenty of transit options.”

He cited a number of ideas to improve overall transportation in New York City, “to raise revenue” and make the system “more environmentally friendly, fairer, and customer friendly.” He also sees it as key to improving the city’s economy.

He has promised as mayor to institute a more equitable tolling formula and put the transit system on solid financial footing by tapping new sources of revenue and smarter spending.

“Technology is there,” he says, speaking about solutions like smart lights synchronized to keep traffic moving, automatic toll billing which would eliminate toll plaza slow downs, and off-peak toll rates.

He states he would also “lobby aggressively for city control of the mass transit system, giving the reins back to leaders who must answer to New York City residents.”

In an issue close to the Rockaways, Albanese said, “I am a big ferry advocate.”

One of his aims, as stated on his website, would be to “increase cost-saving ferry service to areas lacking in mass transit options,” such as the Rockaway peninsula.

His plan also includes an expansion of bus service routes and adding 20 more express bus routes by 2018.

Asked about a popular Rockaway mode of transport, bicycles, Albanese replied, “We need a bike friendly city. Anything that gets people out of their cars is a good thing.

“Simply put,” he sums up on his website, “transportation is the pulse of the city.”

Other Albanese initiatives include increased attention to public safety. His plan includes hiring 3,800 more policemen, an 11% increase in the force. This would provide at least 25 additional officers to each precinct, apportioning them based on the volume and nature of calls there.

He also stressed the importance of addressing quality-of-life crimes that undermine communities.

Education is another focus, with Albanese proposing mayoral control of the education system. It’s “a good thing. Let’s not go back to previous problems.”

He would also push for supporting parents and improving conditions for families to enhance educational development. One idea would be to establish the city's first public pediatric wellness centers, where interrelated teams of educators, psychologists, and doctors would work with parents to ensure that every student enters school with the best chance of success.

Additionally he would like to introduce what his website calls “a 21st century curriculum that puts New York City students at the forefront of technology, engineering, and computer science education while embracing the arts, music, and fitness programs as key components to a well-rounded education.”

In terms of the New York City economy, he emphasized that “we should be using the city’s dollars to benefits its citizens” and not send money elsewhere.

“Why can’t we build subway cars here? Why can’t we build buses here?”

Summing up a key to his campaign and how he intends to run the city if elected, he said “I want to get money out of politics.

“What I don’t want is to raise a lot of money from special interests, because then you can’t do things based on merit.”

As he adds on his site “New Yorkers deserve a mayor who works for the public interest, not special interests.

Otherwise politicians “make appointments and take stances that appease campaign contributors. As a result, corruption and incompetence erode faith in government, city services suffer, and the concerns of residents and small businesses are ignored.”

At the close of his meeting with The Wave staff and discussing Rockaways issues and challenges, Albanese emphasized his approach to governing as mayor, if elected.

Noting the constructive dialogue that took place, he said, “This is a good twoway conversation.

“It helps me as well.”

Subsequent to his visit, in fact, Albanese sent a letter directly to Mayor Bloomberg. Directly referencing an editorial in The Wave, (Mapping Our Demise 2/15/13) he calls upon the mayor to “organize an inter-agency task force and assign a point person for each borough to work on the ground with residents until every last family and small business is back on its feet.”

With “another hurricane season approaching,” he declared, “the time to act is now.”

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