Leffler Cites Experience In BP Run
Experience In BP Run
After serving for almost a quarter of a century as eastern Queens representative in the City Council, it’s logical that City Councilmember Sheldon Leffler would present himself as an experienced candidate in his bid to become the next Queens borough president.
The 58 year-old attorney in his campaigning around the borough has been emphasizing his achievements on environmental issues, public safety, seniors’ benefits, housing and taxation and other areas.
At the same time, he has been pointing out the attention he’s given to his local constituents, securing funding for education, roadway and sewerage improvements and elimination of flooding. He speaks proudly of a recent Fund for the City of New York study which found that Queens Village was the neighborhood with the most improved roads since 1997. "I’m running based on my record, and hopefully people will choose me on the basis of my having the most experience," he said.
Known for his independence throughout his Council career, Leffler says of the campaign and selection of a new borough president, "The question is who can run a professional office at Borough Hall, not a political office. District leaders are of, by, and for the politicians."
One of his opponents, Councilmember Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst), is a longtime Democratic district leader and is the Queens Democratic organization designated candidate in the race.
The other candidate running for the Democratic nomination for the borough president’s post is Carol Gresser, former president of the Board of Education.
In his campaign, Leffler has won endorsements from the Eastern Queens Regular Democratic Club and the Saul Weprin Democratic Club, both in his district. Outside of it, he was endorsed by the Western-Queens Independent Democrats and Democrats for Politics, the League of Conservation Voters, the New York Tenants and Neighbors Coalition, former Council colleague Ruth Messinger, and former Fire Commissioner Carlos Rivera.
Leffler has also formed alliances and has working relationships with several non-organization candidates running for the city Council, namely Jim Gennaro (24th District, Kew Gardens Hills/Jamaica Estates), Joseph Conley (26th District, Woodside/Sunnyside) and John Ciafone (22nd District, Astoria/Long Island City).
This lineup is hardly competitive with the load of endorsements Marshall has received from Democratic elected officials and district leaders as well as major labor union organizations.
Leffler is nearly a lifelong resident of Queens, having been raised in Kew Gardens Hills and Jamaica Estates from the age of two. He graduated from Jamaica H.S. in 1960 and was class valedictorian.
He graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School and was in private practice for several years before being elected to the City Council in 1977.
He presently resides in Hollis Hills with his wife, the former Joy Silver.
His campaign literature sums up his council career saying his "activism and independence on the City Council is the key to his many successes. His philosophy has always been to judge an issue on its merits, not on its politics."
But despite his self-proclaimed independence, Leffler has gone along with most of the legislative program advanced by the Council’s leadership and his legislative proposals have been supported by the heavy Democratic majority.
If elected, Leffler said, he will "continue the good work" he has done as chairman of the Public Safety Committee and previously as chairman of the Environmental Committee.
Leffler lists as his priorities education, economic development, housing, public safety and seniors--"all the groups the borough president funds."
Besides major physical improvements to schools and building new ones, Leffler advocates paying competitive salaries to attract teachers to the school system. He would also hold principals and superintendents more accountable for school performance.
Leffler would keep the schools open all year to relieve overcrowding and would increase community impact in running the system.
Besides giving children all the facilities they require, including "a computer for every student," Leffler advocates private sponsorship of certain school facilities as a means of expanding the resources available to the city’s children.
"The next borough president must take the job with a clear vision of how he will use his position to maximize the economic well-being of the borough’s residents," Leffler said.
As part of his economic development program, he would promote the new economy by providing better access to fiber optics and communication systems. He would give Queens residents priority for jobs at LaGuardia Airport, "especially as ‘compensation’ for the increase in traffic and noise pollution," he said.
Queens must have its "fair share" (about 25 percent) of the city’s police force, Leffler says, and the diversity of the force must reflect the diversity of the communities.
More senior housing is needed, Leffler said, as well as improved home and day care programs and improved funding for senior programs overall.
He would buy new trains to replace older, less efficient ones, and would increase service on existing subway and bus lines.