However, Vallone says he can't change who he is, and in fact is proud to be from such a well-known family.
“People always ask me, 'why are you always bringing up your family?'” said Vallone during an interview at his campaign office. “It's because I'm damned proud of my family. I'm blessed to have Peter Vallone as a father.”
Vallone, a Democrat, has also been criticized for accepting the endorsement of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican, but Vallone said that just proves that he has the connections and respect to get things done as soon as he takes office.
“I'm going to go in there strong,” said Vallone. “This community really, really needs strong leadership.”
When asked what his focus would be on day one if elected, Vallone was quick to answer.
“For me, it's always public safety,” said Vallone.
He said that the precincts that cover the district, primarily the 109th Precinct in Flushing, is geographically too big, and that officers have their hands full with Downtown Flushing, devoting much of the precinct's resources to that busy area at the expense of the precinct as a whole.
Vallone sees an opportunity with the construction of the new police academy at the College Point Corporate Park, but that a quicker and more feasible solution is to create satellite offices throughout the district that can respond quickly to emergencies.
Vallone said the 19th District is also facing a challenge with overdevelopment, and said that the rezoning of Auburndale and the surrounding neighborhoods would be a top priority. He also said that rising property taxes are destroying the dream of a more relaxed suburban-like life that attracts so many families to northeast Queens.
“People are getting taxed out of their neighborhood,” said Vallone, pointing to the front door of his campaign office on Francis Lewis Boulevard. “Every day people walk in off the street and say 'I can't take it anymore.'”
Vallone said he also wants to take the lead on developing parks in the district, primarily Fort Totten Park and the old Flushing Airport site, where the city is promoting a proposal to convert the old airport for light recreation uses.
Vallone say rather than wait for the city to come up with a plan and then try to adapt it to the community's needs and desires, he wants the community to be involved at the drawing board. He proposes creating non-profit conservancies, much like the Central Park Conservancy, to steer development.
“Parks are in critical need of guidance and leadership,” he said. “We need to get our own local people involved, and we need to start right from the outset.”