Vickie Paladino is a familiar name to some with her confrontation of Mayor Bill de Blasio last summer. Come November, she anticipates another image: State Senator.
Paladino is one of four candidates running in State Senate District 11, represented by State Sen. Tony Avella (D-College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Floral Park, Beechhurst, and Auburndale).
Sitting on a chair in her living room, Paladino explained her desire to run after seeing the quality of life deteriorate around her.
“We’re in the process of being a one-party city, a one-party state that’s Democrat,” she said. “[There is a] need to for the State Senate to be a firewall because I believe in a two-party system as everyone should.”
If elected, Paladino would want to address a variety of issues. Crime is one issue as she warned about gang activity, particularly focusing on MS-13, happening across the city. She said police officers are unable to address violence in schools, or elsewhere, because of state and city rules.
She recalled a father approaching her after his daughter was allegedly attacked at a Flushing school. She said this person could not receive help from the police and was threatened by MS-13 members who attacked his daughter.
“The police reply was we cannot help you. They cannot report this,” she said.
Paladino expressed concern with the city’s plan to close Rikers Island as she felt crime would increase if the city’s plan to transfer prisoners to different boroughs succeeds.
“Prisoners are on an island for a reason. If they break up Rikers Island, and it comes to our communities, that means that much like the Creedmoor [Psychiatric Center], they’re allowed to walk freely,” she said.
The conversation shifted toward the issue of overdevelopment in the district. Paladino believed more should be done to ensure residents are not only aware, but also decide on projects in the neighborhood.
She cited the nearby Edgestone property project that will have 52 potential houses on contaminated soil. The Whitestone resident didn’t recall any flyers or notice from the city about the project.
“My approach is to stay on top of things before it is too late. I will be all over Community Board 7 [and] Community Board 8. I will be a very watchful eye before anybody is allowed permits,” she said.
Also on her agenda is reforming education. She vowed to defend the SHSAT and spoke in favor of a voucher program to ensure choices for families. Paladino also favors firing teachers who do not receive good reviews.
“I say to Mayor de Blasio—fix the broken schools. The broken junior high schools [and] elementary schools. Fix it,” she said.
Paladino elaborated schools should provide more opportunities for parents to get involved with their schools.
As Avella challenges former City Comptroller John Liu in the Democratic primary, Paladino will face newcomer Simon Minching in the Republican primary. Minching secured the Queens County Republican Party and Conservative Club’s endorsements in May.
Paladino believes the Queens GOP endorsement would have always gone to Minching and called the organization “corrupt” with its appointment of John Haggerty to its executive board as one example. Haggerty was convicted for embezzlement from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2011.
She recalled attending a candidates’ screening organized by the party despite hearing rumors the decision was already made.
“When [party chairperson Joann] Ariola says they had a fair screening, nothing can be further from the truth,” she said.
Ariola responded that there was no decision was made prior to the screening process. She added all but one district leader, whom abstained, voted for Minching to obtain the nomination.
“She did not meet the requirements for the Republican Party,” Ariola said.
Paladino declined to say what could happen with the Queens GOP if she wins the Republican nomination next month.
Nevertheless, she is thankful for the support she’s received and her cast of volunteers. The Whitestone native is confident voters in the district know her vision and her experience in the district.
“They’ll know all about me. The message is clear already,” she said.
The Republican primary is set for Thursday, September 13th.