City Council District 19 - Democratic Primary

  
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Preferred Candidate - Austin Shafran - Dem
 
Age: 33 Occupation: Full-time candidate
Education: Queens College, CUNY (BA)

Austin Shafran has significant experience working at all levels of government, as a staffer for a member of Congress, as a spokesperson for the New York State Senate Democratic conference, and as Vice President for the NYS Economic Development Corporation. Shafran is very well-versed on the issues facing the city and the district, and has put forth a detailed reform plan to enhance public confidence in the City Council. The plan calls for equal distribution of discretionary funding, banning Councilmembers from earning outside income and barring consultants from lobbying family members and other candidates they help elect. He further supports instant runoff voting for citywide offices and believes Councilmembers’ staff allocations should be more equitable. Shafran is also concerned about overdevelopment in the district and overcrowding in area schools. Shafran believes he can leverage his experience in government to achieve reform. Citizens Union believes Shafran is thoughtful, knowledgeable, and has an in-depth understanding of good government issues and therefore prefers his candidacy.



   

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John F. Duane - Dem
Age: 59 Occupation: Attorney-at-Law
Education: Colgate University (BA), Columbia Law School (JD)

John F. Duane, an attorney-at-law, believes that his run for the City Council is the culmination of his career in public service, pointing to his years of serving on community organizations and in the State Assembly from 1982-84. On reform issues, Duane is an advocate for non-partisan elections, specifically a “top-two” system in which all candidates and voters participate in the first round of voting. He also supports instant runoff voting. If elected, he plans to reform City Council discretionary funding by creating a discretionary spending oversight board to monitor how discretionary funds are allotted to various causes, making sure that funds are spent properly. He is further committed to serving as a full time Councilmember, and will not earn income from another job. Aside from reform, education is a priority for Duane. He believes that organizing parents is key to solving myriad issues within our education system, and that the city should step in to make up for the shortfall in state funding. Additionally, Duane wants to make it easier for veterans to identify and apply for government programs that can benefit them.




    

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Paul Graziano - Dem
Age: 42 Occupation: Urban Planning/Historic Preservation Consultant
Education: University of Massachusetts at Amherst (BA), Hunter College (MS)

Paul Graziano is an urban planning consultant who once worked for Councilmember and now State Senator Tony Avella and has lived in the district for his entire life. Graziano is very knowledgeable about development issues and seeks to reform the city’s Department of Buildings which he called “a disaster.” He wants to abolish self-certification and “as-of-right” development and believes offices other than the mayoralty should make appointments to the Board of Standards and Appeals, which he believes has interpreted precedent to the benefit of developers. He opposes mayoral control of schools and wants to return to governance via the Board of Elections. He backs instant runoff voting and will not take a lulu if elected to the City Council. Citizens Union was impressed with Graziano’s intellect and knowledge of development issues, but believes other candidates in this competitive and qualified field have a greater breadth of support.



Paul ValloneRead more:
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Paul Vallone - Dem
Age: 46 Occupation: Attorney, Vallone and Vallone LLP
Education: Queens College CUNY (BA)

Paul Vallone, the brother of Councilmember Peter Vallone and former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., has extensive ties to the district where he has lived for twenty years. He has served on two community boards, coached sports teams, created scholarship programs, and been an active member of the local parish. On reform issues, Vallone laments that in the City Council, “whoever is in the ‘in’ club, gets” and wants to create greater equity in the distribution of discretionary funding. He also believes a majority committee vote should send a bill to the next meeting of the entire City Council. He committed to being a full-time Councilmember and stated that he would no longer handle clients at his firm if elected. Beyond reform, his top priorities include maintaining the quality of life and safety of the district that has attracted families to the area. He also wants to reduce school overcrowding and help small businesses through more public-private partnerships. Citizens Union admires Vallone’s connections to the community. While he has ideas for reform, he has not fleshed them out as much as other candidates in a very qualified and competitive field.

 
 

Chrissy Voskerichian - Dem
Has not returned questionnaire
Candidate could not be scheduled for an interview