Sigh. You've heard them all before, no doubt. But this one might be something new: legalize sports gambling, and use the proceeds to reopen the Queens hospitals which closed last year.
That casinos-for-healthcare plan belongs to Robert Schwartz, who on the conservative party line running against incumbent Democratic Senator Toby Ann Stavisky in the 16th Senate district, which covers parts of Central and Northeast Queens.
In 2008, Schwartz challenged Stavisky in the Democratic primary, and did surprisingly well. This time, he said he thinks he can win- though the odds against him remain high.
“I'm hoping somehow I can win this,” said Schwartz. “A lot of people know me. I'll have a good showing.”
Schwartz was born and raised in Bayside, where he has lived with his wife since retiring from the dairy industry. The same year he retired, in 1986, he made his first run for office in a race against Senator Frank Padavan. Schwartz got creamed, and the experience soured him on politics.
“I wasn't experienced at the time,” he said.
But he never lost interest entirely. Two decades later, when the recession hit and small businesses starting folding, Schwartz said he was inspired to jump back in the ring.
In typical fashion for an underdog candidate, he criticized Stavisky for being out of touch with voters and the needs of her district, and too friendly with Albany insiders. He said if elected he would keep his office open for longer hours to meet constituent needs.
“A politician has to serve the public. And I'm into that,” he said. “There's too much corruption going on in the Democratic Party.”
Schwartz said fixing the economy, and bringing jobs to the district, would be his top priorities. His is also interested in healthcare, which is where gambling on sports comes in.
He said if the state legalizing gambling on major sports like baseball and football, proceeds from the industry could be poured back into services like healthcare. He said he would use the funds to help reopen Queens' closed hospitals. (Daniel Bush)