Green Party To Run Candidates For Council In Astoria And LIC

Green Party To Run Candidates For Council In Astoria And LIC

The Democratic nominations for City Council in Astoria and Long Island City may be a done deal for incumbents Peter Vallone Jr. and Eric Gioia, but the Green Party is hoping to wage a serious challenge in these influential districts in the fall elections.

Robyn Sklar, a 28-year-old Long Island City educator, is running for Gioia's seat on a platform of education and transit reform. "Our city councilman puts a lot of Band-aids on the situation," she said.

Sklar wants to institute after-school reading programs in all the area's elementary schools. PS 111 in Long Island City, she said, has some of the worst reading scores in the entire city with only 15 percent of 4th and 5th graders passing the citywide reading test.

"We need a person who is not going to represent the Upper East Side," she said, referring to Gioia's political alliance with Council Speaker Gifford Miller.

Sklar sharply criticized Gioia's vote against the mayor's solid waste management plan, which went through last week despite Miller's attempt to get the council to veto it. That plan would take many large diesel trucks out of our neighborhoods, she said. "(Gioia's) political aspirations are a liability to this community."

Just north of District 26, Jerry Kann announced his candidacy last Thursday challenging Vallone for the District 22 seat, which represents Astoria. Kann said he would be "a lot more of a hands-on council member. Many of them say, I have an open door policy, but I would go beyond that, with regular meetings in the district."

Kann, who is 44 and has lived in the neighborhood for about 10 years, ran for the seat in 2001 as well. He supports granting the right to vote in city elections to noncitizens and allowing gay marriage. "I've never heard a peep from Peter on that issue," he said.

Kann is also concerned with rent regulation. "He's a landlords' person," he said of Vallone, citing campaign contributions from the Pistelli group and ties to the Rent Stabilization Association that his father, Peter Vallone Sr., had. He would fight for more tenant representation on the Rent Guidelines Board, whose members are all appointed by the mayor. "They always vote for an increase. They've never sided with tenants—what a surprise," he said.

Neither Sklar nor Kann has held elected office before and both recognize that waging a serious campaign against incumbent Democrats in Queens is a difficult proposition. Both are hoping to raise enough donations—at least 75 contributions of $10 or more—to receive city matching funds.

The West Queens Greens are a fairly active club," said officer Patrick Langhenry. "Any Green Party member is encouraged to run. But it is unusual to have two candidates that are adjacent to one another."

Both Kann and Sklar must get signatures from 2,700 people or 5 percent of the voters in their district between July 12th and August 23rd to get on the ballot.

(From Queens Chronicle - Western Edition, June 30, 2005)