Crowley, first-time incumbent
by Daniel Bush
Aug 25, 2009 | 4852 views | 0 0 comments | 96 96 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This time around, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is finally running as an incumbent.

As such she has largely adhered to the time-tested incumbent strategy that there can be nothing to win in too much campaigning, and potentially everything to lose.

Crowley agreed, however, to a recent sit-down with this paper to discuss her candidacy. She made it clear, without saying so specifically, that she finds some relief in her incumbency, as any elected official would.

Crowley, who is the first female and Democrat elected to represent the 30th District, dismissed the idea that her time in office since winning a special election last fall, and her stance on the controversial new Maspeth high school, has made her a divisive figure in the district.

The district includes Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven.

“I have never waivered, and I never changed,” on the proposed new Maspeth high school, Crowley said. The biggest issue in her district all year, Crowley vehemently opposed the creation of a new high school in Maspeth unless enrollment priority was given to Maspeth residents.

After months of debate, the Department of Education (DOE) decided to grant priority to students in School District 24, which includes Maspeth.

Though not unprecedented, it is relatively rare for the DOE to modify enrollment plans to appease, even in part, a council member’s wishes. Crowley pointed to that as an important accomplishment.

Her critics disagree. Chief among them is Republican Tom Ognibene, a former councilman who is running against Crowley in the November general election. Ognibene characterized DOE’s District 24 concession as routine.

“I was able to get a priority zoning and no other council member was able to do that,” Crowley said. “I don’t think Ognibene would have been able to do the same.”

Crowley said her critics on the school and other issues are few and far between. “The anti-Crowley camp are people who have special interests. Not community people,” Crowley said. “I have no doubt in my mind.”

She cited the City Council’s passage of a 300-block rezoning of Maspeth, Middle Village, and Glendale as another major accomplishment.

Crowley made the rezone, intended to protect family neighborhoods from overdevelopment, a legislative priority.

Since taking office in January, Crowley has also introduced legislation increasing vehicle idling fines after a man stole an idling curbside car, and took it on a joyride that resulted in the death of two teens; fought successfully to keep Engine Company 271 open; and advocated for improved women’s health care, among other issues.

She said she has several projects to tackle if she wins reelection.

“I want to continue what I started,” Crowley said.

She would focus on health care issues, and continue negotiations for a new Waste Management (WM) plan.

Crowley said she opposes WM’s current plan to build a new waste transfer station at its facility on Review Avenue. Waste would then be trucked to a rail yard in Maspeth, where it would be taken out of state.

“I don’t agree with the plan right now,” Crowley said, adding that Waste Management “knows our position.”

Besides working on the waste plan, Crowley said she would devote more resources to Maspeth, a section of the district she said is often neglected.

One project in Maspeth could involve new green space, she said. “I firmly believe in my next four years I’ll be able to bring more parkland to Maspeth,” Crowley said.

That was one of the few specific promises she made. She declined to comment on what committees, if any, she would like to chair if reelected

For now, Crowley said, she remains focused on the task at hand.

“We were able to do a lot in a little amount of time,” she said. “It certainly wasn’t a quiet year by any means.”

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