By Tom Momberg
Republican and Conservative candidate Joe Concannon, a U.S. Air Force veteran and retired NYPD captain, has been steadfast in campaigning for the vacant northeast Queens City Council seat since announcing his election bid in June.
Concannon is challenging his Democratic opponent, Bob Grodenchik, for the City Council seat that covers Glen Oaks, Bayside Hills, Fresh Meadows, Queens Village and several other smaller neighborhoods. Mark Weprin gave up the seat to take a position in the Cuomo administration in May.
No Republican has held District 23 in at least five decades, although the boundaries of the district have been redrawn about every 10 years during that period.
And with only three Republican members currently serving in the City Council, Concannon has a big task ahead of him. Even so, he said he and his campaigners are “cautiously optimistic.”
“I’ve spoken to a lot of voters, and I think they are ready for a change, quite frankly. I think our message is resonating around eastern Queens,” Concannon said. in an interview “People are registered for the Democratic Party, because I think they want to belong to that primary process. I don’t think people of this district are ideologically drawn in. They are very much common sense. They are much more of a conservative Democrat with strong family values.”
Concannon said he has knocked on the door of every single residence in the district by now and has heard varying complaints from residents, who he said are generally fed up with their current political leadership.
He said he is conscious that city agencies are behind on maintenance orders and that logging complaints to 3-1-1 to get anything done requires persistence.
“This is why constituents in this area are so frustrated—because they can’t get the response needed … I know allocation of budgets is not what it should be and that agency commissioners set the priorities, but more can be done,” Concannon said.
Terrace on the Park
The GOP candidate said with technology where it is and 3-1-1 and city agencies often unresponsive, City Council members should be able to step up their constituent services to establish communication and collect data to better allocate resources
“Constituents should at least get a returned phone call, if not also a personal letter,” Concannon said.
The candidate worked with the FBI and on the NYPD’s central computer data system ComStat for about 15 years. He now works for his own co-venture data security service, Integra Security Systems.
Concannon said data systems should be used more to examine city policies, hold parties accountable for quality-of-life issues and establish better communication with residents.
“You know, I come from the (Rudy) Giuliani school of government,” Concannon said. “He held commissioners and supervisors accountable. After a while, they grew to expect that. It was effective—agencies cleared all their backlogs and they appropriately budgeted where they needed to budget operations. It’s not happening now, or at least it’s not happening here.”
Concannon said poor policy and disproportionate allocation of city services have led to geographic inconsistencies in quality of life.
Jamaica Hospital – Flushing Hospital
For example, he said overcrowding in high-performing School District 26, where families are actively involved, and a growing demand for charter schools in other pockets of the borough go to show how teaching models and administrations are not the problem. But poor planning and limited options are condemning kids to a cycle of socio-economic depression, he said.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.