I have lived in Sunnyside for 34 years and before that in Astoria and Jackson Heights. As a civic activist, a lawyer representing thousands of families, and a performer with six Queens theatre groups, I have decided to seek the Democratic nomination to become Boro President of Queens in the September 15th primary, and I ask for your help.
As a Kiwanis Club member I have marched in countless Flag Day parades (join me Sat., June 13th at 11am marching on GreenPoint Ave. from 39th St. to 49th St.), led sing-alongs at the Sunnyside Community Services senior center Valentine’s Day parties, helped send youngsters to upstate Kamp Kiwanis (even going with them one summer), and judged Essay Contest entries by public and parochial school students. I am currently working with people at The Reform Temple of Forest Hills and the Islamic Razi School in Woodside to develop an interfaith study program. My late senior partner, Ben Shaw, was a founder of SCS in 1974 and our office has been counsel pro bono ever since. It has been great to participate in the growth of this wonderful organization that serves so many seniors, youth and families.
In 1980 I was elected to a 3-year term on Community School Board 30, the only parent of a child then attending public school. Most other members had agendas that didn’t seem to include our kids’ best interests, and I didn’t run for re-election. Instead, I spent 3 semesters of Tuesday mornings volunteering at the P.S. 150 Learning Center. In my law firm, we have hired scores of high school interns over the years (with many more interviewing in a process we set up as a good experience in itself), starting at minimum wage. As BP, I would foster a World of Work Program so every Queens business hires high school youngsters.
With the Elder Law section of the NYS Bar Association, I have helped develop and lobbied in Albany for the Compact for Long-Term Care, an effort to responsibly address this burgeoning issue that threatens to overwhelm families and our society as the baby boom generation ages.
I serve on the Dean’s Advisory Committee of Columbia College of Dental Medicine (in honor of my late father, founding chair of the Endodontics Division) and have worked for improved oral health care for seniors and am concerned about reductions in the children’s dental care services provided through the Queens Hospital Center. CDM is also a leader in efforts to reduce obesity and smoking.
I have represented several clients as part of the Queens Bar pro bono program and with the Queens Mortgage Foreclosure Pilot Project because Queens is an epicenter of the problem. Starting in 1990 at The City Club of New York, a venerable good government group, I helped create “Home Response-Ability,” a policy initiative with the scope of the GI Bill to promote education of all kinds with a financial reward helping families build the down payment needed to become home-owners. Recent efforts to develop a pilot program in Yonkers have come up short, but the potential for this idea to blossom into a better society is significant, and Queens would be a great place to lead the way.
So why do I think now is the time to take my civic involvement to a new level?
The canceling of the 8-year term limit allows the Mayor, 35 City Council members and the Borough Presidents to run for re-election. Here in Queens, this meant several public officials withdrew from campaigns to succeed BP Helen Marshall. This is an extraordinary opportunity for fresh ideas and positive change for our borough.
NYC’s unique Campaign Finance System provides a 6-to-1 match for contributions from NYC residents up to $175. That means a $175 check = $1,225 for the campaign, and a couple giving $350 (with 2 checks of $175 each) = $2,450! When we meet the thresholds of $45,000 and 100 contributions from Queens residents we will be eligible for matching funds and have raised close to the million dollars necessary for a viable campaign, even against an incumbent.