City Councilman Costa Constantinides announced his candidacy for Queens borough president Monday, setting out a platform in which environmental concerns and action to thwart climate change get top billing.
The chairman of the Committee on Environmental Protection, Constantinides noted that he had crafted the city’s Green New Deal and gotten the Climate Mobilization Act, a policy calling for the largest emissions reduction ever mandated by any city, anywhere, through the City Council.
“Queens is on the front lines of climate change. It puts our home, our lives, and our future at risk. We’ve already experienced the threat of extreme weather, when Sandy destroyed huge parts of our beloved borough. That was now seven years ago, and Queens is still not ready for the next storm — let alone the rising seas, flooding, and extreme heat we’ve already seen,” Constantinides said in his announcement. “To protect Queens, the next Borough President must have a plan to protect every neighborhood and strengthen our economy, schools, and infrastructure. I helped pass a Green New Deal for New York, now we must do the same for Queens. My plan will ensure our sons and daughters inherit a safer Queens with green jobs and a stronger future.”
His office said estimates show that more than 140,000 jobs will be generated from the Climate Mobilization Act over the next decade, with $20 billion in economic activity.
He also said he would work to make the Borough President’s Office more accessible, proactive and transparent, and cited education, parks and affordable housing as other top items he would address.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) announced for borough president in April, while Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) has filed to run for the position.
Several other lawmakers — Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) are reportedly considering it — as is former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley.
A special election for borough president is expected to be held next February if incumbent Melinda Katz wins the post of district attorney in November. Then next year, regular primary and general elections would be held for borough president, with the eventual winner serving the rest of Katz’s term, which will be completed at the end of 2021.
Constantinides grew up in Astoria, the son of a Cypriot immigrant and an education advocate, and is a proud product of the New York City public school system. He worked full-time as a KB Toys manager on Steinway Street while putting himself through Queens College and Cardozo Law School. Before winning his first term in 2013 with more than 65 percent of the vote, he served as deputy chief of staff to then-Councilman James Gennaro. He still lives in Astoria today with his wife and son.