It’s another election year for State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways), and he’s determined to help constituents in the district.

    With the state budget complete, the Ozone Park resident is preparing his sixth run for the District 15 State Senate seat. Sitting in his Howard Beach campaign room, Addabbo highlighted how the recent state budget was better relative to previous ones.

    Addabbo noted that, even with the end of the Independent Democratic Conference in the senate, he is focused on what works best for constituents rather than political dealings in Albany.

    “Sometimes the politics doesn’t help my people. I sort of don’t talk about it. I only talk about those legislative procedures [that] my people benefit by it,” he said.

    State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. Photo by Brandon Jordan

    He planned to continue addressing issues such as the Build-It-Back program that helps families recovering from Hurricane Sandy. He also noted his interest in locking public school doors during the day.

    “There’s always issues that come up that are not planned. As an elected official, you use your experience when an issue arises—a flooding situation, a Sandy situation—you have to adapt,” he said.

    A ranking member of the senate’s Education committee, Addabbo spoke about a variety of education issues, such as the opt out movement. The refusal rate for state tests last year was 19 percent, down from 21 percent in 2016.

    The Democratic lawmaker did not view opt out as an answer. He elaborated that tests have changed because of complaints raised by parents and teachers. Addabbo expected more alterations after the results of this year’s exams.

    Another issue is the racial achievement gaps in New York City schools. The Queens native highlighted a provision in this year’s budget that requires school district to create a report documenting how funding is spent.

    “It’s not so much how much money we spend per student,” he said. “It’s how we spend it.”  

    On transportation, the lawmaker noted he will meet with DOT officials either this week or the following over a vague plan to reconstruct the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge/CSX in Queens, first reported by Queens Chronicle.

    “There should be transparency,” he said. “My issue with the DOT is ‘I want to know because it may impact my people.’”

    Addabbo also commented on issues with the Select Bus Service (SBS) in the district. Eric Butkiewicz, his Republican opponent, told QCP earlier this month of increased traffic resulting that he said came from the SBS. 

    Addabbo clarified that, while there was skepticism with the changes from SBS, few complaints have been raised by the service and people would become accustomed to the modifications.

    He added that issues such as cleanliness and congestion was already communicated with DOT to ensure a more accommodating service. He emphasized the five categories he follows when talking to transportation officials—improved bus service, pedestrians, drivers, local businesses, and side streets.

    “SBS will always be an issue that we will continue to work on,” he said.

    The senator also said, referring to affordability for small businesses owners, the city officials should do a better job in offering resources for locals running their companies. He recalled an individual who lost both his home and business after Hurricane Sandy struck the region.

    “We found there was enough help for his home—FEMA, Build-It-Back, Rapid Repairs—but there was no help for his business,” he said

    For now, while his campaigning is yet to begin, Addabbo is still meeting residents through the district and listening to their concerns. He set up mobile office hours, often at libraries, throughout the district for constituents who can’t visit him at Howard Beach.

    “It’s been great for me to hear things and talk to people in a different setting,” he said.

    The general election is November 6.

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