Sunday, September 24 – MARKO KEPI, known in the community as a leading activist from the Albanian Roots, announced that he will be running for a Republican seat in the New York Assembly. Launching Mr. Kepi’s campaign from the district of East Shore Staten Island and Bay Ridge Brooklyn, there were two former United States Representatives of New York, Joe DioGuardi and Michael Grimm. Each are taking on important roles in Marko Kepi’s race to Albany. Former Republican Congressman Joe DioGuardi also the founder of the Albanian American Civic League since 1989 announced that he will be the Treasurer and the one-term Representative from Staten Island, Michael Grimm announced that he is the Campaign Chairman. Speaking as the guest of honor, Joe DioGuardi emphasized the Albanian background and the American upbringing of Marko Kepi. The census data shows that the District that will be electing the Republican Member for the New York State Assembly in November 2020 is inhabited by a sizeable Albanian community.
At the rally on Hylan Boulevard, there were hundreds of supporters, young and old, from numerous Albanian organizations and associations in New York, holding signs and cheering for Marko. During the announcements, Mr. DioGuardi acknowledged the presence of “a hero of the Albanians” at the rally, Ambassador William Graham Walker, a career US diplomat, whom he invited at the podium.
The former head of Kosova Verification Mission with OSCE, who is widely popular among Albanians, was asked by Dielli why he was at the rally. Ambassador William Walker said that he has met Marko only a few times. Then he made the point that Marko is running as a Republican in a Staten Island district with a sizeable Albanian community. While Mr. Walker does not have the same party affiliation as Marko, he stated: “Any time I have the chance to promote the political aspirations of someone from the Albanian American community I would give my support regardless from what party they are from. That’s why I am here today!”
Dielli spoke with a number of Albanians at Marko Kepi’s announcement rally who told us that they fully support him as Albanian-American. The political persuasions are irrelevant to them. They see Mr. Kepi as a fellow Albanian and a proponent of Albania’s progress at home and here at their adopted country. In particular, for the Pan-Albanian Federation of America Vatra, where Marko volunteers his time as advisor, it was an opportunity to demonstrate the appreciation by the association that has historically advocated for the rights of the Albanians in the United States. Vatra’s Secretary Nazo Veliu, Members of the Executive Council: Marjana Bulku, Besim Malota, Board Members like Gezim Nika, Frederik Ndoci, Dielli’s Editor Dalip Greca, and upstanding representatives like Asllan Bushati were at the rally to show their support for Marko. A few days prior, Dielli’s Editor had released a statement affirming the credentials and the reasons why Marko is the best candidate for Albany, which read:
WHY SUPPORT MARKO KEPI STARTING THIS SUNDAY?
– It would be a shame if we don’t make Marko the winner of the electoral race. Aren’t we constituents in his district? It will be right to repay him a moral debt that we owe him for all the years of activism on behalf of our national interests in the United States of America.
-This Sunday will be an assessment not only for Marko but also for the whole community in the eyes of the Party of his affiliation as well as the US media that examines the strength of each candidate. At what level will be the organization, what will be the turnout, how do we represent ourselves on Sunday, will be factors in the determination of the Republican Party whether or not to get behind our candidate.
Our compatriot Marko Kepi ought to be supported in his race for the New York Assembly because he is qualified and competent, an admired Albanian and a respected US citizen. The race that launches on Sunday September 29, is ultimately in the interest of the Albanian people whereas it requires sacrifices from Marko.
We are all witness of his love for Fatherland. For more than a decade, he leads us in the Annual Parade, where Sixth Avenue is covered with Albanian flags and the intense spirit of Albanians. At the front of it is Marko and the Albanian Roots, the young men and women who accomplish much more than the Albanian governments.
It would be on us if we don’t get Marko to win the electoral race. It is said that in his New York State assembly district which includes is East Shore of Staten Island and Bay Ridge Brooklyn, there are about 30,000 Albanians. Marko needs only 1,500 to 2,000 votes. Failure would be unacceptable. We ought to answer the call of our duty to deliver.
All the Albanian organizations in the Tri-State area but more specifically the ones that are located in his district ought to be there with all their members and their families. The same goes for the Albanian schools. The turnout is an important factor for the campaign kick-off.
This Sunday will be an assessment not only for Marko but also for the whole community in the eyes of the Party of his affiliation as well as the US media that examines the strength of each candidate. At what level will be the organization, what will be the turnout, how do we represent ourselves on Sunday, will be factors in the determination of the Republican Party whether or not to get behind our candidate.
A good beginning is half the battle. Let’s show our strength at the announcement rally for Marko Kepi. Bring the children along on this special day. Our artists will be there to perform and fire up the campaign launch. Let’s repay him the moral debt that we owe him for all the years of activism on behalf of our national interests in the United States of America!
GOOD LUCK, MARKO KEPI – SON OF ALBANIA!
MARKO KEPI’S EXCLUSIVE WITH DEILLI’S ENGLISH EDITOR:
DIELLI: Mr. DioGuardi introduced you as a man who is not afraid to take initiative, and Mr. Grimm said that as a marine you are someone who is ready and willing to sacrifice. For years now, the community knows you for your activism with Albanian Roots, as Vatra Federation appreciates having you on Board as an advisor. What else do you want the constituency to know about you as a candidate for Albany?
MARKO KEPI: I am not going to stop fighting for them. I am not going to take the easy road out. Whatever fight may be, I am going to take that fight because as a marine, we are told to fight till the end. There is no such thing as you can’t do it! There is always a way and there is always a how. And I am going to make sure I get that done!
The Press Release of the campaign partially states: “Kepi, a Republican, and United States Marine, resides in Grant City. He graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and earned his Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Wagner College. Kepi worked for Senator Marty Golden in Brooklyn, where he helped constituents resolve quality of life issues.
If elected, Kepi will be the first ever Albanian American elected to office from Staten Island.”