Amid chants of “Win with Lynne,” Green Party candidate Lynne Serpe launched her campaign for City Council Saturday night in Astoria. She faces a tough battle for the District 22 seat against Democratic incumbent Peter Vallone Jr., but Serpe isn’t worried.
She believes the rapidly growing and ethnically diverse neighborhood is seeking political change. She hopes her progressive views on gay rights, election reform and the environment will give her the advantage she needs to win.
“I have a vision and a plan for a just, healthy and sustainable city,” Serpe said. “I moved to Astoria over 15 years ago and I have seen the neighborhood change, and yet the political structure is stuck in the past.”
Peter Vallone Jr. has been representing Astoria in the City Council since replacing his father, Peter Vallone Sr., in 2001. He chairs the Public Safety Committee and is known for his tough stance on crime.
But Serpe feels that Vallone focuses too much on crime statistics and graffiti. She plans to fight against what she sees as social injustices, such as harassment of the LBGTQ community and racial profiling. She also differs with Vallone’s decision to vote in favor of extending term limits, calling it an “undemocratic power grab.”
“I think it would be good to have a breath of fresh air, after a 35-year Vallone dynasty,” said Mike Heffron, who met Serpe during his volunteer work with NYC Cares. “Lynne better represents the changing face of Astoria.”
Serpe is a long-time environmental activist and urban gardener who works with many local groups to raise awareness of green resources. She is co-founder of Triple R Events: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, an organization that promotes the use of sustainable materials through their annual Queens is Green Fashion Show.
Serpe also serves on the Steering Committee of Two Coves Community Garden, which provides space to community members for growing fruits and vegetables.
“I understand that a green economy is possible and necessary,” she told supporters at her campaign kickoff. “It will not only lower utility bills, decrease our energy use, decrease our reliance on foreign oil, but it will improve the health and safety of tenants, and provide good, green jobs that can never be shipped overseas.”’
Serpe believes that revamping aging housing and building new energy efficient structures will create thousands of jobs in the fields of construction and weatherization. She also encourages the city to invest money in the MTA so that they can make improvements such as upgrading subway signaling and switching systems and increasing service through a bus rapid transit system.
“She’s bright, well traveled and someone the Queens community can trust,” said long-time friend, Bonnie Gwilt. “As a gardener and naturalist, I am concerned about the environment because we have to take care of the world not only for ourselves but for our children.”
During her speech to supporters, Serpe reflected on her working class background and her reasons for settling in the area.
“I love Astoria,” she said. “I walk Astoria, I shop Astoria, I eat the fantastic food in Astoria and with your support, I can win in Astoria.”
For more information about Lynne Serpe, visit serpeforcouncil.com.