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Queens Resident Wants to Bring 'Civic Virtue' Back in City Council Run

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | February 13, 2013 7:19pm
 Torodash fought to keep Civic Virtue in Kew Gardens
Torodash fought to keep Civic Virtue in Kew Gardens
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS — A Kew Gardens software engineer who was angered after a historic statue was removed from the borough despite public protests last year, declared that he wants to run for City Council.

Jon Torodash, 31, said Tuesday that he had established an exploratory committee and will likely run for the District 29 seat as an independent.

He calls himself a “Civic Virtue candidate", after he unsuccessfully fought to keep the Triumph of Civic Virtue statue in Kew Gardens.

The controversial statue, which depicts Hercules with the sirens of Vice and Corruption, was taken down from the busy intersection of Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard last year where it had been in place for 70 years.

The monument was denounced by some as being sexist sand in recent years fell into disrepair.

“The loss of Civic Virtue really got me,” said Torodash adding that while fighting to keep the monument in Kew Gardens, he had started looking into “a whole host of things regarding the way the city budget is funded and the way various agencies work.”

If elected, he said he would try to bring the statue back to Queens from Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn where it was placed.

“Our elected representatives stood by and let it happen, or even worse, fueled the fire,” he wrote on his website. “I fought using my money and spare time to hold the city to its obligation toward the people of Queens, simply because no one else was doing what needed to be done.”

He said that when he talks about bringing back “civic virtue,” he is also referring to bringing greater transparency to New York City's government.

Raised in Forest Hills, Torodash said he would like to fix many problems in the district, which includes Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, Rego Park, parts of Richmond Hill, Maspeth, and Elmhurst.

“The bus service is horrendous,” said Torodash. “I’ve stood on those lines at Continental Avenue with people of all ages, colors and sizes and it's really a miserable and draining way to begin and end the day.”

The software engineer, used to work as a Latin teacher, also runs a test prep business. He said education is an important issue on his agenda and that his goal would be "to put it back into the hands of teachers and parents."

Among other issues, he said he plans to tackle overdevelopment in certain neighborhoods and garbage that “is being left around many parts of this area of Queens.” He said he also hopes to engage more New Yorkers in civic activities.

And he wants to challenge the current District 29 councilwoman, Karen Koslowitz. “I’m fed up with the inactivity of Ms. Koslowitz,” he said.

Richard Mumith, Koslowitz’s spokesman, said that the councilwoman, who is running for reelection this year, had no comment about Torodash.

“While he is entitled to his opinion in calling the councilwoman's presence in the area 'nonexistent', the community will greatly beg to differ,” Mumith said.