ASTORIA — The increasingly crowded race for Astoria's City Council seat has gotten one candidate lighter.
Tony Meloni, the first candidate to enter the race, is dropping his bid for office, he publicly confirmed Wednesday.
Meloni said he's dropping out of the race so he can focus on his other community work, which includes running two Astoria-based nonprofits and chairing the public safety committee of Community Board 1.
"It’s a decision I've had a hard time making, trust me," he said, saying he's been too busy with his other full-time jobs — he's executive director of Immigration Advocacy Services, an immigrant outreach center on Steinway Street, and founder of New York Anti-Crime, a neighborhood crime prevention group.
"I'm the type of person that give 110 percent of everything I do, and if I can't justifiably work that way, and run that way," then he can't continue his campaign, he said.
"I had to make a personal decision with my family," he said.
Meloni was one of the first candidates to jump into the race for Astoria's 22nd District — currently held by term-limited Peter Vallone, Jr. — saying he wanted to focus on environmental issues and help small businesses in the neighborhood.
Meloni's been outpaced by fellow Democratic candidate Costa Constantinides, in terms of fundraising and picking up endorsements. Campaign filings show Constantinides, a Democratic district leader and deputy chief of staff to City Councilman Jim Gennaro, has $110,216 in his coffers, more than double Meloni's $44,038.
But Meloni said that despite his decision to drop out, he's had a strong base of local support who want to see him elected.
"Everybody is really trying to talk me out of it," he said. "I've been told I'm the leader, I've been told I'm doing pretty well."
Meloni said it was too soon for him to say whether or not he'll consider making another run in the future, or if he will offer an endorsement for any of the other candidates still in the running.
In addition to Constantinides, Astoria lawyer John Ciafone is also planning to run on the Democratic ticket.
Republican Daniel Peterson, former president of the New York Young Republican Club, is also vying for the Astoria seat, in addition to Green Party candidate Lynn Serpe and Danielle De Stefano, an Independent.