Sunday, November 16, 2008

Meet Senator Joe by Tonia Cimino - The Queens Courier

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Newly-elected State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., seen here with daughters Alexis and Arianna, said that education will be one of his priorities in Albany.
THE COURIER/Photo by Nick Beneduce

January is still a month-and-a-half away, but newly-elected State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. is eager to get to work.

Having ousted 20-year incumbent Senator Serphin Maltese by more than 10,000 votes in the 15th Senate District race, Addabbo, now a Democrat - in a Democrat-controlled Senate - talked exclusively to The Courier.

“As a challenger I knew I had an uphill battle - the polls were so close,” said Addabbo. “I believe the big difference in this campaign and the thing that put us over the top was the personal contact.” He also talked about being proud of the positive campaign he ran, staying away from negative campaigning.

In addition, Addabbo helped register nearly 6,000 new voters, which he believes played an important role in his Election Day victory.

He will officially be sworn into office in January when a special election to fill his Council seat will likely be called. He said that he is eager to begin his work in Albany on behalf of his constituents and realizes that he will be entering into difficult economic times right away.

“The party is over, now the work starts,” he said. “The Democrats coming in understand the big picture. We have a lot of work to do for the people of the city and the state.”

Addabbo, who has represented south Queens in the City Council for the past seven years and who has been responsible for capital improvements in schools throughout his district, is continuing his Congressmember father’s legacy of politics and public service.

He said that the first thing on his agenda is reform.

“The way Albany has done business for so long shuts people out,” he said.

A big proponent of transparency in government, Addabbo also wants to increase accountability on the part of the lawmakers.

“Transparency is showing people how the budget affects them,” he said. “For far too long, what happened in Albany stayed in Albany.”

And the budget may well be the next thing on his list.

“We don’t want to raise taxes - we must look at cutting spending temporarily,” he said of the current economic climate. “There are going to be some hard times for some good groups.”

He emphasized protecting essential services, but warned that many budgets may be bare bones.

“We could probably cut some education spending without harming our children,” said the father of two girls, Alexis and Arianna, the elder of which will be starting school soon. “We won’t make any cuts to endanger our children and the quality of education they deserve. Education is a high priority for me.”

Among legislation he has either sponsored or endorsed, are paid family leave, microstamping bullet casings to make police work easier, and email alerts regarding sex offenders.

In addition, he co-sponsored legislation in the City Council to introduce a moratorium on foreclosures for one year.

These, he said, were suppressed because of party politics.

“We’re looking to do away with the partisan way of doing business,” he said. “[There will be a] different way of doing business from day one. I think it’s a good change.”

One thing that will not change in the coming term, Addabbo assured, is his own personal accessibility to his constituents - from Maspeth to Howard Beach.

“The residents can expect to see their senator more often,” he said. “[This is] a different approach to public service. Just because I have been elected to the State Senate doesn’t mean we’re going to stop addressing issues important to the people. We see a seamless transition in getting to work in January.”

Much as he has for the past seven years, Addabbo urges his constituents to call his office with any concerns or complaints.

The Howard Beach district office, at 159-53 102nd Street in Howard Beach, can be reached 24 hours a day by calling 718-738-1111; an office in the northern part of the district will be opened later, he said.