Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fourth Man Declares Run in Special Election by Lee Landor - Queens Chronicle

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A second Rockaway man declared his run for the 32nd Council District February 2009 special election, bringing the total number of contenders to four.

Retired NYPD lieutenant and life-long Rockaway resident Glenn DiResto announced last week that he is ready to compete with opponents Frank Gulluscio, Eric Ulrich and Lew Simon, each of whom is a district leader with name recognition in his respective community.

Unlike his competitors, DiResto, 38, does not have a background in politics — in fact, he hates politics. But that’s exactly why he wants to take office: he wants to bring change, particularly to the Rockaways, which, he said, has been largely neglected by the city.

DiResto took care to explain that he wouldn’t favor one area of the district over another, but that steps would need to be taken to level what has been an uneven playing field for many years.

“If I were to be elected, everybody would get equal representation. The only thing is a lot of other areas in the council district have already reaped economic growth and funding, where as there has been a lot of neglect here [in the Rockaways],” DiResto said.

“There needs to a little more focus on the needs of some of the areas here... But there will be no disparity in service. Everybody would have an equal voice and funding would be distributed equally.”

The 38-year-old mentioned some of the Rockaways’ needs: while there are many nursing homes and low-income housing units, there are no colleges, transportation is poor, police presence is insufficient and economic development barely exists. The peninsula has two hospitals, but both have low ratings, according to DiResto.

The city has repeatedly promised to bring more institutions and economic growth to the Rockaways, but “every time we’re promised something, we get nothing,” he said, noting two such incidents: ferry service and a CUNY annex.

Both Ulrich, an Ozone Park Republican district leader, and Simon, a Rockaway Democratic district leader, share DiResto’s thoughts on the subject. Gulluscio, a Howard Beach Democratic district leader, says he recognizes the individuals needs of each community.

What distinguishes DiResto, he said, is his background in public service. “Being a police officer, I’ve worked in areas where I didn’t live and I represented those people favorably. ... I understand better than other candidates the problems that average New Yorkers face.”

DiResto admitted that he doesn’t know all the complaints in every neighborhood and that he doesn’t even know every neighborhood like “the back of my hand.” But he wants to learn and plans to do so by holding town-hall style meetings, attending sessions held by community leaders throughout the district and, most importantly, listening.

DiResto admits that winning the special election won’t be easy, especially because he is considered a “political outsider.” But, he added, “the recent elections show that people are sick and tired of politics as usual and want real change.” With support from the community, DiResto believes he can bring that positive change to the district.

The non-partisan special election will likely take place in early February. It will be declared by the mayor in early January, after current City Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr., who won the recent 15th Senatorial District seat, is sworn into the legislature on Jan. 1