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My Vision for a Better Astoria

By on September 7, 2013
by Costa Constantinides*

I have a story for every corner. My name is Costa Constantinides; I am a lifelong Astoria resident and share in the proud experience of growing up as a Greek-American in this great city of opportunity. When my father emigrated from Cyprus, he found a place away from home with a warm embrace – Astoria. He built a new life for his family right here in the heart of Western Queens, in a thriving middle-class neighborhood and the backbone of New York City’s celebrated economic bustle. I am running to be the first Greek-American elected to the City Council from Astoria, and I want to follow in the footsteps of trailblazers like Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas.

Costa with State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas

Costa with State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas

As a Democratic district leader for the 36th Assembly District I have fought to protect and enrich our public school system because I was educated in Astoria’s local schools. When parents, teachers, and students from P.S. 122 challenged the Department of Education’s (DOE) threat to cut seats from the prestigious Gifted and Talented Program I united and organized community efforts to oppose this unnecessary and dangerous change. The DOE’s proposal to cut seats would only have eviscerated a fundamental school program that prepares our students for tomorrow’s challenges, and I pledge to make sure the next mayor understands how important our schools are to western Queens.

Costa with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney at the Athens Square

Costa with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney at the Athens Square

Already, I’ve had many victories. In 2009 an elderly Greek man was killed crossing the street on 21st Avenue and 23rd Street. Reckless driving was enabled on 21st Avenue because we lacked a traffic-control device, such as a stop sign or street light, for nearly eight blocks. This fatality was the final straw. Local leaders and I turned up the pressure on the Department of Transportation (DOT) and held rallies demanding a traffic-control device to keep our streets safe. Finally, the DOT responded to our calls for action, and a speed bump was installed outside of St. John’s High School. Government agencies must work on behalf of the people, to improve their quality of life. I have and will continue to work hard to guarantee that government serves the public interest.

Moving forward, as a City Councilman I envision Astoria as a leader in implementing bold environmental policy. I worked for the City Council as a Deputy Chief of Staff and have authored bills that decrease our carbon footprint and create new job opportunities. One of the landmark legislative environmental victories that I was a part of required that New York City buildings utilize heating oil with 2% biodiesel in replacement of traditional petroleum heating oil, which has shown a correlation to respiratory illnesses and health complications. I’m also part of the Smart Power NY coalition, a group looking to replace dirty old turbines in some of Astoria’s power plants with clean-burning new ones. Together, these initiatives are equivalent to taking over 200,000 cars off the road, so we’ll all breathe a little easier. As a Councilman, one of my top priorities will be to oversee that all of our power plants become better neighbors. This means building new energy efficient generators along the lines of the Smart Power project and dismantling the old power sources that still emit deadly toxins. It’s a win for our economy and environment. We’re creating jobs that are fitting for the 21st century and passing sound environmental policy that will dramatically improve our quality of life.

I believe in community development from the bottom-up. Expanding Mount Sinai Queens is a transformative project that will spur success. Four hospitals have closed in five years in Queens, and our community hospital is now overwhelmed by the influx of patients from all over the borough. It is a crisis that must be addressed. I’ve long been an avid supporter of the proposal to strengthen our local hospital. The expansion project will add new emergency room space, hundreds of new beds to accommodate patients, and, ultimately, create jobs. As Councilmember, I will ensure that Astorians always have access to quality healthcare.

At the Greek Parade with the Cypriot contingent

At the Greek Parade with the Cypriot contingent

I am passionate about my neighborhood and public service is my labor of love. My experience as a local district leader, civic leader, and NYC Council staffer distinguishes me from other candidates because I have a comprehensive understanding of the challenges our community faces. I lived the middle-class immigrant success story, and I want to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity I had. That’s why I’m running to be your voice in the City Council.

To learn more, please visit www.VoteCosta.com

* Costa Constantinides is the Democratic District Leader for the 36th Assembly District, Part, A and he is running in the Democratic Primary for the NY City Council.

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