Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gulluscio Gears Up for Feb. 24 Election by Lee Landor - Queens Chronicle

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It’s been almost a year since he declared his candidacy in the special election for the 32nd Council District seat, and Frank Gulluscio is well prepared and ready to go.

Photo: Frank Gulluscio, right, with singer Tony Bennett on Jan. 13 during Queens Borough President Helen Marshall’s State of the Borough address. (photo by Michael O’Kane)

The Democratic district leader from Howard Beach has long been involved in the community, formerly as a teacher and later as a member of Joseph Addabbo Jr.’s City Council staff.

The 60-year-old grandfather of two said the experience in the world of public service has prepared him well for a council seat.

Following his stint with Addabbo, Gulluscio became the district manager for Community Board 6, where he has been working for more than two years.

“I’m actually doing what the City Council does now at my job as district manager,” Gulluscio said last February. “We do all the services that the people require, just like the City Council, and the only thing we don’t do is make the laws.”

The community boards are now examining their budgets — which have suffered major cuts in recent months — and taking a “serious, serious look at government at probably the most grass roots level that there is,” Gulluscio said this week.

Just as his work on the community board has familiarized him with budget management, Gulluscio’s background in local civic and political life has helped him garner name recognition in the communities he would represent, should he win the Feb. 24 non-partisan special election. It has also generated for him strong ties with community leaders, he said.

The focus of Gulluscio’s campaign is to serve the community by addressing “kitchen-table issues” and showing residents that he can relate to their concerns and lifestyles.

“I understand our schools, I understand business, I understand government,” Gulluscio said.

“More importantly, I understand, firsthand, what it means to be a middle-class resident of this city struggling to earn a living and raise a family successfully.”

Part of Gulluscio’s “mission” upon reaching City Hall, he said, is studying initiatives and measures Addabbo started when he was in office and making sure that they come to fruition.

The Department of Education is a top priority for Gulluscio, who has volunteered his time at the St. Mary Gate of Heaven School in Ozone Park for the last three and a half decades. “We have to look at education in a wide view,” Gulluscio said. “Not with blinders on.”

On the controversial issue of mayoral control of the city’s public schools, Gulluscio said it “has to be tweaked so that we get more parental involvement, parental input and parental communication.” Transparency, he added, is key.

Financial problems surrounding Catholic private schools also needs to be examinued, Gulluscio said, noting that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens has already shuttered and merged a number of schools in the area.

Considering the current economic situation, it’s critical to examine the city’s revenue stream, according to Gulluscio, who said, “I believe that we should be cutting some more fat out of city government before we start raising taxes.”

While he anticipates addressing these issues if he wins the election, Gulluscio is most looking forward to “making sure we have the quality of life that we really deserve.” He wants to be “a real advocate for the people,” he said.

Up against six other candidates, some of whom are as well-known as he is, Gulluscio has some campaigning to do for the next month before the election, but he’s confident the seat is his.

Gulluscio and his campaign team have raised more than $40,000 in campaign funds as of the most recent filing date, Jan. 15. They have collected more than the 1,000 signatures required to be placed on the ballot and filed the necessary paperwork. Their only concern, Gulluscio said, is the weather. He hopes it won’t be so terrible as to prevent voters from coming out on Election Day.

The other six contenders are Rockaway Democratic District Leaders Lew Simon and Geraldine Chapey, Ozone Park Republican District Leader Eric Ulrich, retired NYPD lieutenant Glenn DiResto of Rockaway, Howard Beach businessman Michael Ricatto and retired Ozone Park educator Sam DiBernardo.