Joseph Gravagna, 33, is running for the NY State Assembly in the 97th district against Ellen Jaffee, 68. Jaffee's current 95th district will become the 97th district because of changes to the district map. He is running on three party lines:
“This is the first time that Ellen Jaffee has not had the Independence line in an election,” said Gravagna. “I am one of the few non-incumbents to earn the Independence party endorsement in the state.”
He attended Concordia College and is now a sales executive in Manhattan for CityGrid Media. Like Jaffee, Gravagna moved to Suffern from the city. Originally from Whitestone, NY, he moved up to Suffern after marrying his wife in 2009. They have one daughter.
“I come from a blue collar family. My mother was a hair dresser and my father was a commercial day laborer,” he said. “I’m a pro-union republican and I want to be a candidate that speaks to everybody.”
He added that he has knocked on 600 doors so far.
“I have a very diverse district – that’s similar to where I come from. Queens is very diverse. I want to have all the communities represented,” he said.
Some organizations he’s a part of include:
- Ramapo Republican Committee and currently serves on the Rockland County Executive Board.
- Former assistant national chief for Advocates for Disabled Americans, Veterans, Police, Firemen & Families. According to its website, ADA/VETS is a non-profit organization which defends the rights of qualified individuals, who were excluded from mainstream society due to their disability. This includes the workplace, school, and any accommodation afforded the non-disabled population of American society.
- He’s part of several running clubs, such as the NYPD running club and NY Road Runners Club
This is not Gravagna’s first time in the political ring.
Last year, Gravagna was a when Kleinhandler ran for the Rockland County Legislature in District 10 against incumbent Democrat Harriet Cornell.
“I ran for Ramapo Town Board on one line when I came up here (to Suffern in 2009),” said Gravagna. “I got the most total votes in 30 years for the republican line.”
He plans to hold evening office hours during the campaign and continue that if he’s elected. He’s still looking for office space right now, which will probably be located in Orangetown.
“For my evening office hours, I plan to rotate around my constituents’ town halls. My campaign is going to be very open to the voters,” said Gravagna. “Any email or correspondence will go through me. If the people of District 97 see fit to elect me, I’m going to be very diligent in representing them.”
He added that he’s going to look into a 24-hour hotline.
“I want the public to be able to reach my staff at any time. There will be as much transparency as possible during campaign and after I’m elected. The voters of this district deserve this right instead of just a photo-op candidate,” he said.
Gravagna has three core issues for his campaign.
- Unemployment reform
- Assistance and Incentives for Small Business Growth
Check back with Patch tomorrow to read more about them.