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Podcast: Costa Constantinides and His Run to Be Queens Borough President

June 1, 2020 Staff Report

Council Member Costa Constantinides, who represents Astoria and East Elmhurst, is running to be the next Queens Borough President.

We spoke to Constantinides early last week, before the national outrage following the death of George Floyd took hold. The focus of the discussion was largely about the looming budget problems New York City faces and what that will mean for the next borough president.

Constantinides is one of several candidates in the race. The other candidates are Elizabeth Crowley, Anthony Miranda, Donovan Richards and Dao Yin.

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Hello. Firstly, thank you so very much for interviewing the candidates for Queens Borough President. It’s really helpful when making decisions with the primary just around the corner (or now if you want to vote early). One note on the Rikers question.. While tearing down Rikers and building borough based jails will cost $8-9B and the City is facing a $9B deficit, please note you can’t just cancel the Rikers project and make the deficit go away. Simply because the Rikers project will be paid for using capital funds, whereas the deficit requires expense dollars. The City will issue bonds to finance the Rikers project – additionally, not all of the costs will be incurred in one year. The costs will be incurred over the course of the construction project – meaning bonds will be issued during the course of the construction project and then a little after during the closeout phase. Whereas with the $9B deficit – unless the City is authorized to engage in long term borrowing to help cover expenses – that shortfall has to be made up in the same fiscal year it is anticipated. There also was another budgeting question that did not differentiate between expense and capital – when they are, in fact, very different. It was reassuring to hear Constantinides note the distinction between the two.

Larry Penner

Did you know that Edgar Nathan was the last GOP Queens borough president who served from 1942 – 1945. Nat Hentel was the last GOP District Attorney in 1970.

The most recent voter enrollment figures speak volumes. Within Queens, as of February 21, 2020 there are 766,213 Democrats, 126,690 Republican, 5,178 Conservative, 1,832 Green, 3,165 Working Family, 26,223 Independence, 667 Libertarian, 21 Serve America Movement, 1,191 Other and 253,718 No Party Affiliation for a total of 1,184.884 active registered voters.

Voters continue to have to look elsewhere for alternatives to the Queens County Democratic Party machine monopoly. NYC Council member elect Bob Holden was elected on the GOP ballot line, but maintained his Democratic Party enrollment and caucusing with the Democrats. As a result, only term limited GOP Council member Robert Ulrich may be the last of his kind. The remaining Queens Republicans may go the same way of an old fashion street corner telephone booth into extinction.

Larry Penner
Municipal Political Historian.


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