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RIDGEWOOD, N.Y. ― In a past life, during the halcyon days before hipsters colonized New York City’s outer boroughs, Costa Constantinides sold toys here in this working-class, immigrant neighborhood in central Queens.
It was a time when the city had more crime but fewer cars. Hometown slumlords weren’t in the White House, and a deadly superstorm hadn’t yet given New Yorkers a taste of the climate catastrophe that now looms.
Yet it’s that Mad Libs of modern politics that set Constantinides on his current course, which found him back in his old stomping grounds last week knocking on doors in the cold evening drizzle. This time, he was selling something entirely different: himself, as the climate change-focused candidate seeking to be the new Queens borough president.
After serving six years on the City Council representing his native Astoria, a middle-class Mediterranean enclave in western Queens, Constantinides wants to work for the entire borough of 2.3 million people ― a place that, on its own, would rank as the United States’ fourth-largest city, slightly behind Chicago and ahead of Houston.
The job of the borough president is generally viewed as a perch for political patronage, but Constantinides is pitching himself as the candidate who cares most about the climate crisis — an issue heretofore unheard of in the race for this relatively obscure seat.
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