Related: New York Republicans VS. National Republicans by Joseph Mercurio
In a democracy, healthy competition and opposing viewpoints cannot be underestimated. Political parties serve to foster increased participation in both the selection and election of candidates and office holders. More than any other reason, that's why a strong Republican Party is good for New York City, and good for the United States.
Here in New York, there are far more registered Democrats than Republicans, but without viable candidates competing for office from both major parties, and trying to win support from minor parties, we are left with one party rule. This can stifle opinion and essentially lead to a form of tyranny. One party rule has been tried elsewhere in the world. It has been a failure and anyone unfortunate enough to have lived under it would tell you that it's not what we want here.
It is important that our political parties offer voters and political participants clear choices. I belong to the Republican Party because I believe in strong family values, the rights of property owners, lower taxes and fiscal conservatism, and tough policies to protect our neighborhoods from crime.
That being said, there are differences between a New York Republican and Republicans from other parts of the country. This summer in New York, we'll see Republicans from all over our nation and from different parts of the political spectrum coming together to re-nominate President George W. Bush. Although I differ with them on some issues - I support rent control regulations and have been an advocate for tougher gun control laws - I will join Republicans together with those with whom I disagree because we are all unified by a general belief in smaller government, a strong national defense and increased national security.
FAMILIES, EDUCATION, LOWER TAXES
I believe strongly that parents must be given the tools to raise children according to their beliefs and wishes, and that parents should have to be notified about choices that their children make. Recently, I introduced a bill that would require parental notification before a minor child could have any part of his or her body pierced. The Senate has passed this bill four times, but the Democratic controlled Assembly has yet to pass it.
Parental involvement in education is essential to the success of our school system. I have worked closely with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein, and I sponsored legislation to create community education councils in our schools, that will take the place of the former Community School Boards, and offer parents a direct voice in the education of our children.
The rights of property owners are another critical issue, whether it’s monitoring changes in development and planning or working to prevent illegal conversions of single-family homes to multifamily dwellings. Lowering property values as a result of increased traffic in a neighborhood, or decreasing the quality of life in an area because of illegally converted apartment houses, are issues that concern many hard working families. I have worked for years to keep property taxes down and to increase economic development in our neighborhoods. By bringing in business and industry to all parts of the city, we increase the tax base and lower the burden on individual homeowners.
I also believe that Republicans are generally tougher on crime than many of our Democratic counterparts.
Routinely, bills to increase penalties for drunk drivers and eliminate parole for violent offenders are passed by the Republican controlled State Senate, but not passed by the Democrats in the Assembly.
Further, for years the Democrats have been working to undermine the Rockefeller Era Drug Laws, which keep many convicted drugs dealers behind bars. They argue that these are not violent felons, but I have talked to the mothers of children who have died of overdoses and they beg to differ. Releasing repeat offenders for violent crime and drug dealers into our neighborhoods doesn't make sense to me. For years I have advocated for increased resources for drug treatment. Addicts need treatment. Dealers need to be put away.
DIFFERENCE MAKES US STRONGER
In New York, Republicans and Democrats operate on a lot of common ground, and I generally believe my colleagues in both parties are decent women and men trying to effect positive changes for their communities and the people they represent. However, in some areas we just have profoundly different ideas of how to do this.
Our differences are a testament to the fact that in America, and even here in New York City, the party system is alive and well. It makes for a stronger city and citizenry; we are all better for it.
Frank Padavan has represented the 11th District of Queens in the New York State Senate since 1972.