By Christian Murray, Sunnyside Post.
Angelo Maragos, the 24-year-old Republican candidate who is vying for this neighborhood’s city council seat, may be young in age but he has a slew of mature ideas that he is eager to bring to the staid council.
“I’ve been called a kid,” Maragos said, who faces Jimmy Van Bramer in the general election for the District 26 seat on November 3rd. “But the city could benefit from some young, fresh ideas. Many people are so tired with the status quo and there is a lack of creative problem solving.”
Maragos said his youth should be viewed as a positive—so too his background, short as it is, in business and engineering. Maragos covers the commodities market for Credit Suisse as a business analyst. He started working there shortly after his May 2007 graduation from Cooper Union. His degree was in engineering.
His fledgling political career began when he was at college and became the chairman of the engineering student council. “We dealt with real world issues,” he said, which included moderating disputes and ensuring academic integrity—such as dealing with plagiarism.
But Maragos said he wanted to take politics further once he graduated and had his eye on the city council. “I noticed 48 out of the 51 [NYC council] members are Democrats. And the Democrats aren’t doing a good job since people are not happy.”
Maragos said he wants to represent this district since he has lived in Long Island City for seven years, after being raised in Great Neck.
His first taste of running for office came at the end of 2008 when he volunteered for Liz Berney, the Republican candidate who ran against Gary Ackerman in the Fifth Congressional race. While Berney was beaten heavily, “It was a good experience talking to people on the street, being involved in a grass roots campaign,” he said.
As part of the campaign, he attended Republican meetings in north east Queens. “I met people who told me about the Sunnyside GOP club earlier this year,” which meets in a room (on 41st and Queens Blvd) in a church. He expressed his interest in running for city council—and the local leaders got behind him.
He wanted to run because he believes the city is headed in the wrong direction. “They have raised sales taxes, closed fire houses and eliminated bus stops—even the one outside of the Sunnyside Community Center.”
His platform is based on fiscal conservatism and focuses on some of the following categories:
Education: He wants to establish more charter schools and introduce school vouchers. “I want to increase competition because there are many children in this district who not being challenged enough.”
Support businesses and reduce unemployment. Maragos would like to introduce a tax incentive package similar to the one that operates in downtown Manhattan. “Our local economy is struggling. Unemployment is high and there are empty offices everywhere. People need help.” His goal is to give local businesses rent rebates and interest-free loans.
Affordable Housing. Maragos said he would like the city to purchase foreclosed properties, which would then be used to build affordable housing. The units would be sold and owned by qualified buyers. “I’m not an advocate for public housing…there are many problems and it costs the city a lot of money. “
Waste and fraud “The city is overdue for reform, and people feel that they don’t get the services they deserve, considering the taxes they pay,” he said. “We have to cut back on wasteful spending, like individuals are doing.” Maragos said he wasn’t sure at this point where the cuts would come from.
Maragos is his own man
Maragos is certainly no puppet. He calls for “term limits” to be put back on the ballot and said it is an issue for the people to decide, not the legislature.
He’s unsure whether he will vote for Mike Bloomberg in the mayoral race. “I haven’t heard from all the other candidates. I don’t know enough about [Bill] Thompson,” he said.
Maragos said that people try to paint Republicans as all being the same. When he is asked about social issues, he typically says that those issues are legislated on a state and federal level— not locally. But if pushed, he said he believes in civil unions, and has yet to form an opinion on the abortion issue.
Maragos has a small group of followers in his battle against the Van Bramer machine. He has 50 volunteers.
But he has the right attitude, win or lose.
“Should I not win, I will continue with my job and work with the community. That work does not end Nov. 3rd.”