Paladino, a Republican, is running against State Senator Tony Avella, a Democrat, to represent northeast Queens in Albany. If they both win their respective primaries, they would face off on November 6.
The 63-year-old Whitestone resident burst into the political scene last July, when Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the neighborhood to talk about the city’s program to repair trees and sidewalks.
Earlier that month, police officer Miosotis Familia was killed on a midnight tour in the Bronx by a cop-hating gunman. Though de Blasio attended her funeral, the mayor was criticized for making a trip to Germany to speak at a rally protesting the G20 summit that same week.
Paladino and her husband were driving by when she saw the mayor speaking in her neighborhood. She immediately ordered him to stop the car.
After de Blasio finished his press conference, Paladino sprung into action, going after the mayor and chastising him for his decision to go to Germany.
“Pay your police officers and stop spending it on money to go protest against our country,” Paladino said in her tirade, which was captured on video. “I want to know why you let your police officers down and our country down.”
The mayor quickly left the scene and hopped back into his SUV.
“That wasn’t planned,” Paladino said in an interview last Wednesday with this paper. “That was Vickie being Vickie.
“He had no business going to Germany, period,” she added. “Get off the global stage. He stood with the anarchists and the communists.”
Paladino’s family history in Queens dates back to 1947, when her family first moved to the neighborhood. Her father and uncle started a successful jewelry store, while two aunts opened up a millinery shop.
Paladino and her husband also ran a landscaping business for 35 years, operating the company from their own home. But after three decades, the Whitestone resident said they “couldn’t afford” to be in business anymore.
She blamed the rise in gas prices, high operating costs, and the labor-intensive industry itself as reasons for their closure.
She also said running a business in New York, a high-tax state, is still a challenge.
“That’s what’s killing small businesses in the area,” she said. “It’s happening all over.”
Paladino said she’s running to improve the quality of life in the district. Whether it’s homelessness, the crime rate or high taxes, she said Avella had not done enough to help area residents.
Avella is a former member of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a breakaway group of Democrats that had a power-sharing coalition with Republicans in the State Senate.
“He blows with the wind,” Paladino said about the incumbent. “He has no loyalty to either side.”
While progressive activists see the IDC as a hindrance for liberal policies, Paladino said she wants to ensure the State Senate, the only body in Albany controlled by Republicans, stays in the GOP's hands.
“I don’t believe in the Democratic Party anymore,” she said. “They are socialists.”
However, Paladino may not even receive the support of her own party. She expects the Queens County GOP to endorse another Republican candidate, Simon Minching, a Little Neck resident who works in business development for Palantir Technologies.
That won’t stop the small business owner and mother of two. Paladino said she has an aggressive fundraising goal, and she plans to meet it.
She will face off against Minching in the GOP primary on September 13.
“We need to restore some sanity in our neighborhoods,” Paladino said. “I want my district back.”