Michael O’Reilly announcing his run for Congress at the Rockaway Republican Club. Photo by Dan Guarino “I’m not just running to make a statement. I am in this to win,” said Michael O’Reilly as he announced his intention to run for the United States Congress on Monday, March 7.
The Wave: He made the announcement during a political forum at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club that the Rockaway Republican Club had organized for representatives of their party’s presidential candidates to speak to the public.
In an interview with The Wave, O’Reilly, a Rockaway resident, said he felt like this was a good venue to make his announcement.
O’Reilly is running to represent the 5th New York Congressional District. The district includes “all of Rockaway, Broad Channel, Old Howard Beach, Bellerose, Rosedale, Laurelton and other areas. It also includes Kennedy Airport and parts of Nassau County, like Inwood and parts of Valley Stream and Elmont.”
O’Reilly will be running against Congressman Gregory Meeks, who currently represents the 5th District,
“I read the newspapers and I couldn’t take it anymore. It irks me that we don’t seem to have any representation from Congressman Meeks. He’s not doing anything for the communities,” said O’Reilly. “One of biggest issues certainly in our neck of the woods is how we’re going to avoid another Hurricane Sandy. That’s a major thing.”
Having worked with local community and environmental activists, he says getting flood gates in place is key. “That’s very important. And that means getting funding from Washington.”
“I also feel there is no reason our congressman can’t get involved in local issues, like the ferry, like transportation and the Queens Rail,” he said. “To me, as a congressman everything is my job.”
O’Reilly, who had previously run for Queens County Civil Court Judge, graduated from Florida Tech with a degree in aeronautics. He joined the United States Marine Corps. After receiving his honorable discharge, he began going to New York Law School at night, while working as a broker on Wall Street to support his family, and became an attorney. During that time he also worked on getting flying experience and his pilot’s license.
After spending 10 years in finance, O’Reilly started practicing laws and representing clients in court.
“Flying,” he says, “is a passion. I finally had the experience and the nerve to quit my day job” and become a pilot for Northwest Airlines. Later he went back into finance as a regulatory attorney. “There were a lot of new laws then. My job was to make sure companies followed those laws.”
In an interview with Queens Latino when he was running for judge, he urged voters to “to vote with your heart and mind, that elections are too important in our country to give to the political parties and to remember that the voters in this country are in charge”.
O’Reilly says the next step in his congressional run is getting on the ballot itself.
“We need 1,250 signatures to get on the ballot. Realistically we’ll need to gather 2,000 or more, since many of those might be contested,” he said. “The next step for me is to round up the troops and go knocking on doors. That and quite frankly fundraising.”
O’Reilly says he is very familiar with Rockaway’s issues. About the other areas in the district he says, “I will need to go out, introduce myself and find out what those issues are there and work on how we are going to deal with them.”
The election itself will take place on Nov. 8, the same as the presidential election.
About his decision to run for Congress now, O’Reilly notes, “There is a level of frustration that is felt in our nation. That same frustration is felt in our communities, too.”