Long-time community activist and urban planning consultant Paul Graziano is throwing his hat into the crowded Democratic primary for Councilman Dan Halloran’s seat.
Graziano, who lives in North Flushing, operates Associated Cultural Resource Consultants. He has worked on numerous landmark and community preservation initiatives in northeast Queens as well as co-founded the North Flushing Civic Association and ran for City Council on the Green Party line in 2001.
In September, he will face off in the Democratic primary for the City Council’s 19th District against Paul Vallone, who is the brother of Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., Empire State Development’s Austin Shafran, Democratic state committeeman Matthew Silverstein and former state Assemblyman John Duane.
“I’m involved in the Democratic Party but all of the other people I’m running against are either in elected office or part of the machine,” Graziano said. “I’m not connected with any of that.”
Graziano, who has a master’s degree in urban affairs, left the Green Party in 2009 to assist then-Councilman Tony Avella in his bid for mayor. But he said the communities that he hopes to represent are not driven by political party loyalty.
“It’s a very apolitical district that focuses on quality of life issues,” said Graziano, who listed education and neighborhood preservation as two of his top campaign issues. “As someone who went to the public schools here and, as someone who is about to get married, there are great concerns about the way the schools have been moving. Districts 25 and 26 have typically been the gold standard, but 25 was recently listed as a district in need. It’s very distressing.”
He said neighborhood preservation was not just about zoning and landmarking.
“It’s a pretty wide catch-all,” he said. “It’s about quality of life and making sure that services and infrastructure are maintained. And, as a civic leader, I’ve been involved in rezoning every square inch of northeast Queens and putting thousands of buildings on the National Historic Register.”
Last week, Halloran kicked off his own re-election campaign for the seat. The recently redrawn Council district covers Bayside, Little Neck, College Point, Auburndale, Whitestone and North Flushing.