By Rafaela Prifti/
Republican Candidate of the 64th Assembly District, Marko Kepi, celebrated the opening of his campaign headquarters on Hylan Boulevard and Flag Day on June 14. Today Dielli visited the office to conduct a brief interview.
Dielli: How is your campaign different from the opponents’?
Kepi: My campaign is different because it does not rely on the elected officials to help us in the election, and it does not depend on their support. Instead, we are doing our campaigning by knocking on doors, phone banks, TV interviews. This way we reach out to the voters who decide that they’d want to vote for me as a candidate not because of some elected official.
Dielli: On the topic of government officials, you have been a very vocal critic of Mayor De Blasio. You have escalated your disapproval of him particularly with regard to the handling of the marches and protests against police brutality in the city since last month. Yet, Mayor De Blasio opposed the City Council’s proposal to cut police funding by $1 billion. Where do you stand on that?
Kepi: I am against cutting any funding to the police. It is important to keep in mind that New York is a target for terrorist attacks. We need as much funding as possible for the NYPD, Homeland Security and other agencies to keep New Yorkers safe.
Dielli: We are four days away from voting. You are running in the Republican primary for a seat in New York State Assembly. You stand firmly by your economic plan and your dedication to serve the country as you have done in the US Marine. Yet, if you were a sitting Assemblyman in Albany today, what issues would you be fighting for?
Kepi: Bail reform and property taxes are some of the issues. The opioid crises needs to be addressed. Staten Island is the number one place in the country with the highest incarceration rate per capita. The Verrazano Bridge toll is practically another tax for the residents here and we need a fast ferry service. These are some of the issues I would be fighting for.
Dielli: As an Albanian activist, you have organized rallies and marches advocating for the national interests of the Albanian people. Last June, you as President of Albanian Roots and Vatra Advisor were leading the Nations’ Parade jointly with the Pan-Albanian Federation of America and numerous community organizations. This year there was no parade for obvious reasons. What do you miss the most now?
Kepi: I miss seeing the grandparents and the young children coming to the parade. That makes my day! That makes everything worthwhile!
Dielli: Thank you and good luck!
Editor’s Note: On June 15, Dielli published a congratulatory message with the Albanian translation of the Facebook post on Marko Kepi’s page: “Honored to receive a Gold Medal from President Donald J. Trump. The President’s Volunteer Service Award is a civil award bestowed by the President of the United States for recognition of outstanding volunteer contributions for community service to United States.”
Dielli has covered the official announcement of the Kepi campaign run for the NY State Assembly last September and the fundraiser dinner celebrating Albania’s Independence in support of his candidacy in November.