Lengthy ballot for District 26 1

From left to right: Amit Bagga, Lorenzo Brea, Julia Forman, Glennis Gomez, Marvin Jeffcoat, Denise Keehan-Smith, Hailie Kim, Brent O’Leary, Julie Won and Ebony Young are just some of the candidates who have thrown their hand in the ring to replace Jimmy Van Bramer from his District 26 City Council seat.

The race to succeed term-limited Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) from his District 26 City Council seat is packed — 17 candidates have thrown their hat in the ring to represent Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Astoria and Maspeth.

Here are 10 of them:

Amit Bagga (D)

Amit Bagga of Sunnyside is a former deputy commissioner at the departments of Social Services and Consumer & Worker Protection and most recently served as the deputy director of city Census 2020. He is a leftist and “solution-oriented progressive.” Bagga’s bid focuses on recovering from the economic crisis, which disproportionately affects communities of color. He believes achieving economic justice for all — immigrants, gigworkers, performers, small businesses and more — is the first step to recovery. Bagga supports guaranteed and dignified housing for all, expanding accessible and quality healthcare and redistributing funding from the NYPD to education, mental health services and employment.

“As we rebuild from the multi-layered health, political, and economic crises of the past year and as we seek to redefine the City’s role in the pursuit of justice for its residents, we are going to need leadership that don’t just have bold ideas, but also real experience delivering real results for the working people of New York City in the face of a multi-billion-dollar deficit and a largely new City Council. I hope to bring my experience serving New Yorkers for nearly 15 years — implementing landmark labor and consumer protections, reuniting immigrant families and fighting poverty, and protecting New York City’s political and economic future through the census — to the honorable task of serving and fighting for the people of Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, and Dutch Kills.”

Lorenzo Brea (D)

Astoria resident Lorenzo Brea identifies as a “true” progressive. As an activist from the Ravenswood Houses, his main priority is to address and counteract the injustices faced by NYCHA residents, such as pollution, overpolicing, egregious housing conditions, inadequate educational resources and lack of healthy food access. He also supports defunding the NYPD, providing avenues to empower tenants and to establish more learning centers and extracurricular spaces for youth.

“I am running for City Council in District 26 because I have lived through and seen self-proclaimed saviors fail the most marginalized communities of the district. Every other candidate in this race is approaching it that same way, and the only way you’ll be able to tell is if you were from the most marginalized areas of the district, which I am.”

Julia Forman (D)

Licensed attorney, Dutch Kills Civic Association board member and Western Queens Community Land Trust Treasurer Julia Forman identifies as a progressive. Her primary goal is to rebuild our city’s economy and address the fiscal crisis by cutting government waste to prevent layoffs. Forman also hopes to fully fund public schools to reduce class sizes, upgrade technology and provide free Wi-Fi to all students; expand outpatient services in the healthcare system and provide personal protective equipment to all of our essential workers; and reform the building approval process, redefine affordable housing and build more sustainable developments.

“As Councilmember I will push for all recovery efforts to be centered around the needs of our schools, our small businesses, and first and foremost, our neighbors, and I will be honored to be the first woman to ever represent this district.”

Glennis Gomez (D)

Glennis Gomez now lives in Astoria, but immigrated to the Bronx from the Dominican Republic at age 6. She served as a staffer for Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) and as chief of staff for Assemblymember Gabriela Rosa D-Bronx). Gomez identifies as a progressive, though she holds some moderate views. Her No. 1 priority is providing all city residents with quality, affordable housing by preserving rent stabilization and low-income-based programs. She hopes to reform the shelter system from its prison-like history into a safe environment for those who need it the most. Additionally, Gomez seeks to upgrade education to the modern age by providing students with an early exposure to STEM: science, technology, engineering and math classes.

“I am the Councilwoman that District 26 needs that will prioritize people and focus on resolving our local issues and lifting the underrepresented communities within the district. I seek to be an advocate who will take the struggles of my community as my own ... This is not the city I want for my son, neighbors, and community but we can work together to make it that city.”

Marvin Jeffcoat (R)

Army veteran and facility manager Marvin Jeffcoat is the lone Republican candidate vying for the District 26 seat. The Woodside resident is running on a conservative platform focused on public safety. He believes the “liberal” City Council’s views, and those of his opponents, empower criminals and demonize the NYPD. In addition to re-establishing support for law enforcement, Jeffcoat looks to aid in economic recovery, improve education and deliver essential services to constituents.

“I want to address the serious issues facing our community, end the failed policies that are ruining our city and empower individuals so they can succeed here in New York City.”

Denise Keehan-Smith (D)

Denise Keehan-Smith is a third-generation Woodsider, works as a global account director for a technology company and previously served as Community Board 2’s chairperson. Her moderate campaign prioritizes economic revitalization with a focus on crafting legislation and establishing grants for small business. She hopes to re-evaluate the Small Business Jobs Survival Act and offer better incentives to entrepreneurs who invest in communities. Her bid also centers around strengthening public safety, creating safe housing options and offering transit solutions for seniors and the disabled.

“I care deeply about my district and the livelihood of New York City post pandemic. For over ten years I’ve served my community in the capacity of Chairwoman of CB 2 and President of Big Six Towers, fighting for the underserved and voiceless of our community. I am familiar with the local issues and can create a plan to address them.”

Hailie Kim (D)

Hailie Kim, who appears on the city Campaign Finance Board as Heajin, is an adjunct professor at Hunter College and a Sunnyside resident. She is running as a Democratic Socialist/Progressive with a goal of revamping the education system by prioritizing building more schools, hiring more teachers and securing adequate funding and resources. Kim pushes for universal rent control to ensure affordable housing, and supports a federal job guarantee for good union jobs. She also calls for the creation of a public bank to invest in city programs without cutting services.

“I am from Sunnyside, and went to school in Woodside and Astoria, and want to make life better for the people who live here. Whenever I am campaigning on the streets, I see my friends and neighbors, not just voters. I see the many problems my neighbors face, from underfunded schools, to unaffordable rent for both apartments and small businesses.”

Brent O’Leary (D)

Community leader and attorney Brent O’Leary is a progressive candidate from Long Island City running with a focus on helping small business and workers to not just recover from the pandemic, but to thrive into the future. In addition to providing mom-and-pops with the resources to get back on their feet, O’Leary hopes to create true affordable housing options throughout the city, provide quality public education and ensure universal healthcare to all.

“I’m running for New York City Council because I believe in community service. I believe that government can be responsive to our needs and provide true equality in both law and resources so we can have a socially and economically just society where everyone can go as far as their hard work and dreams can take them. I am fighting to making the American Dream a reality for all the people of our diverse communities.”

Julie Won (D)

Sunnyside resident Julie Won, who’s served as a digital strategy consultant at IBM for seven years, is a self-identified progressive. Her No. 1 campaign priority is to restore the city’s economy and save small businesses by calling for immediate commercial and residential rent relief, as well as passing the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. Her campaign also focuses on closing the “digital divide” by providing Wi-Fi for all, protecting education funding and improve remote learning tools and alleviate the housing crisis by preserving affordable housing units and creating new affordable housing.

“I am running to champion a fair and just recovery from the pandemic and the economic crisis we’re facing. As Council member, I will fight for all of our communities by standing up to special interests, and making our City government more responsive and accountable to the public.”

Ebony Young (D)

Woodside resident Ebony Young is the nonprofit division president of The Lonely Entrepreneur, a company that coaches and educates emerging business leaders. Her No. 1 campaign priority is economic empowerment: Young believes in providing vulnerable populations with tools, such as education and training, to succeed financially, and intends to focus on small business recovery. Young hopes to build jobs, especially in technology and entrepreneurship; achieve social equity by providing fair housing, education and immigrant services; and prioritize mental and physical health to improve community well-being.

“My values reflect a real understanding of inclusion, innovation, and hope with a constant curiosity for advancing the lives of the people that I serve. I have a proven track record of improving communities and am highly qualified to make the right assessments necessary for progressive execution and elevation.”

Next week: Part II

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