Dennis Saffran said that quality of life issues, such as public safety, schools and fighting overdevelopment, would be the top issues in his bid for City Councilman Dan Halloran’s seat.
But Saffran, an attorney from Douglaston who previously ran for City Council against state Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside, has also cited integrity among the most important themes in his campaign.
“I think someone who stood for common sense conservatism, rather than the Ron Paul libertarian fringe should have a voice in our district,” Saffran said. “And in the wake of what happened with Dan, Vince Tabone and Malcolm Smith, public integrity is very important. It’s outrageous to me that my party leaders and elected officials are going to jail for taking envelopes full of cash.”
Saffran, who is running on the Republican, Conservative and Reform lines, said quality of life issues were key to his campaign and that public safety was, perhaps, the most important.
“The Council is about to take its most important vote in the last 10 years,” he said of legislation concerning the NYPD’s stop and frisk tactics. “We have to ensure that these stops are courteous, respectful and civil, but I strongly support Ray Kelly on stop and frisk. It keeps guns off the street and saves lives and the lives it typically saves are minority youths. I’d be ticked off if I got stopped and frisked, but I’d be more ticked off if I were shot and killed.”
Saffran said retaining the district’s reputation for having some of the city’s best schools was also of great importance.
two of the three best districts in the city,” he said. “I’ll differentiate
myself from the other candidates – I’m for school testing.”
He said one of the teachers that influenced him most was his junior high school Social Studies teacher.
“She said you’re not being taught if you’re not being tested,’ Saffran said. “For the first half of class, our teacher would copy facts on the board and for the last 25 minutes, we’d have an engaging debate about the facts. There can be no real learning without doing the hard work of learning the facts.”
He said he believed that the district could use a new school as the existing ones are overcrowded, but he would not support the current proposal to build a new school at the Keil Bros. site in Bayside.
“We need space for schools, but there’s an inherent tradeoff – nobody wants the crowding and congestion that a school would bring to their neighborhood,” he said.
Saffran said overdevelopment was another issue of concern for most residents in the district. He praised Avella for having fought to downzone northeast Queens and said he would fight to prevent out-of-character developments.
“We’ve got to maintain the residential, small town semi-suburban nature of our community,” he said. “It’s a big reason why people want to live here. We can’t have huge residential or commercial developments coming in.”
Saffran cited former state Sen. Frank Padavan, a Republican, and former Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn, a Democrat, as two political heroes.
“These are people who spent 20 to 30 years in politics because they wanted to fight for what they believed in and their neighbors’ interests as they saw them,” he said. “It’s inconceivable to picture them pocketing envelopes full of cash.”
Saffran will face off this fall against the winner of September’s Democratic primary. Democrats in the race include Flushing attorney Paul Vallone, former state Assemblyman John Duane, former Halloran chief of staff Chrissy Voskerichian, long-time community activist Paul Graziano and Austin Shafran, formerly of Empire State Development.