Land use expert Paul Graziano, who is challenging Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) next year in a Democratic primary race for his seat, wants to save northeast Queens.
“My priorities are really simple — my priorities have always been the same, which is to protect my district,” Graziano said Monday in a sitdown interview with the Chronicle’s editorial board. “And what does protecting the district mean? Protecting the district means to protect it from bad development, overdevelopment. If you can do that, a lot of the other things fall into place.”
A planning consultant, Graziano is a civic activist who has worked on the downzoning of a large portion of northeast Queens with state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) when the latter was on the City Council. A plaintiff in the lawsuit to stop the Willets West mall development project, Graziano is also a former president of the Historic Districts Council.
Queens, the Flushing resident said, has gone through “jarring changes.”
“I’ve seen many, many changes, and part of what we tried to do was both with landmarking, rezoning and other strategies to protect these neighborhoods, is to make it so that change is gradual and people can go through those changes in an easier fashion,” Graziano said. “And also make the neighborhood so that when someone comes 50 years from now, they can come in and still recognize the place that maybe they grew up in.”
He ran against Vallone and three others in a Democratic primary for the seat in 2013, coming in third, but he is confident that the field will be less crowded this time.
“It was a very different crowd,” he said. “This time around, I think it’s just gonna be me and Paul Vallone.”
The councilman, he claimed, gives favors to campaign contributors — a major point in his campaign but not the only one.