Nine candidates running for District 25 seat 1

From left to right: Fatima Baryab, Yi Chen, Suraj Jaswal, Shekar Krishnan, Liliana Melo, Manuel Perez, Alfonso Quiroz and Carolyn Tran are running to replace Danny Dromm, who will be term-limited from his District 25 Council seat at the end of the year.

Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) will be term-limited out of office at the end of the year and nine candidates are running to replace him.

The 25th district covers Elmhurst, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.

Fatima Baryab (D)

Baryab recently graduated from St. John’s with a degree in biology. She is co-founder of Sukhi New York, a nonprofit that celebrates diversity.

She told the “Pakistani Abroad” TV program that “The most important thing is that our community is not represented.”

Baryab said the Pakistani community has not pushed themselves to get a seat at the table. “We should have the fair share in the system,” she said.

She spoke of how many immigrants are drivers in the city, negatively impacted by ride-sharing options after spending a lot of money on a taxi medallion. Baryab said Mayor Michael Bloomberg was able to hurt the yellow cab industry because “we did not have a seat at the table.”

If elected, she would “reform the community boards to create a civically engaged district that is representative and professional.”

Baryab said another problem immigrants have is assimilating, with many having an identity crisis. “It’s hard for kids to understand their identity as Americans and also understand their identity depending on which country their parents belong to. We need to create a system that is accepting of their parents as well, not just the kids.”

Yi Chen (D)

Chen is an activist who serves as the Executive Director of Asian American Community Empowerment and the Coalition of Asian-Americans for Civil Rights.

He graduated from Queensborough Community College and started his medical supply business with two childhood friends, according to his campaign website.

Chen saw a lack of understanding of the healthcare system and patients’ benefits, so he organized forums to educate his clients and seniors. He also joined the NYPD’s 110th Precinct Auxiliary and has volunteered thousands of hours.

At the height of the pandemic, he recruited more than 100 volunteers to deliver meals and medications to seniors. Chen also organized the business community to donate over 400,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to frontline workers.

He also served as Asian community liaison director to former Assemblyman Felix Ortiz. Chen assisted thousands of constituents, including getting domestic violence victims the help they need, helping seniors apply for housing, making legal service referrals and organizing events.

“Now more than ever, we need effective leaders that will do what it takes to keep our communities safe, save our small businesses, protect our seniors and to provide our children with the very best education they deserve. Together we will recover and move our diverse community forward,” he says on his website.

Suraj Jaswal (I)

Jaswal has been director of operations for JLC Environmental Consultants, Inc., which samples asbestos, lead, mold and soil, for over 10 years.

A first-generation immigrant from north India, who studied at Baruch College and earned an MBA in finance, Jaswal would propose legislation that makes personal finance classes mandatory in high school “so that students can make better choices regarding college and life.”

With many residents facing food shortages, Jaswal wants to open City Canteens that offer cooked meals at reasonable costs and “would like to run it at a no profit-no loss basis to create a win-win situation for the City as well as residents.”

Other things Jaswal would push for include opening trade schools, improving the transit system with more bike lanes and not letting the MTA change bus routes, prioritizing funding for community needs such as homelessness, mental health emergencies and violence prevention, and protecting the city from rising sea levels.

“We can dig into our own personal and professional experiences and find solutions rather than chanting party positions,” he said. “Partisan politics is coming in the way of finding good, common sense solutions.

Shekar Krishnan (D)

Krishnan is a civil rights lawyer for low-income tenants fighting against displacement and housing discrimination. He is the co-founder and chief program officer of Communities Resist, “a community-based legal services organization fighting for housing as a human right” in Queens and Brooklyn. He said the city must be rebuilt so that it works for everyone, especially the most vulnerable.

“We must guarantee access to dignified housing and compassionate, universal healthcare as basic human rights. To ensure that all our neighbors can thrive, we need to invest in COVID relief for workers presently excluded from government assistance, for small businesses, tenants and small homeowners, and we need to meaningfully protect and uplift our immigrant communities. We must expand green open spaces, particularly in Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, as we have some of the least amount of open space in NYC.”

A parent of two children, he also wants to see public schools fully funded, child care expanded for families and the city’s mass transit system modernized.

Liliana Melo (D)

Melo is a district leader in the 34th Assembly District, who served as a Navy officer in the Colombian National Navy.

She moved to New York in 2004 and earned an associate degree in business administration and entrepreneurship from LaGuardia Community College, a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Brooklyn College and an MBA with a concentration in human resources management from Lehman College.

Melo will “fight for affordable housing for all through equitable rezoning, while also fighting to prevent evictions and landlord retaliation,” according to her campaign website.

Melo also said she will ensure the Department of Education “works on college readiness, technical programs, and the promotion of real work workplace experiences for students.”

The candidate also cited immigration protection as an issue of her campaign.

“I will work to find budgetary and legal resources for immigrants facing family separation, workplace abuse, domestic violence, and landlord retaliation.

“As some of the most vulnerable and essential members of our community, they deserve our support.”

Manuel Perez (D)

An interpreter and life coach, Perez wants to address challenges including “climate change, transportation crisis, the pandemic, budget shortfalls and social, criminal and educational inequities.”

He said he would like to establish a constituent and community coordination system that allows for each individual to work directly and openly with his office.

Perez wants to “review and update infrastructure update planning to ensure that our Borough and city can prepare for emergencies due to the long term deterioration of century old systems, bridges and roads.”

The Council candidate said the city needs to improve its waste management systems, saying the sewage system regularly dumps waste into waterfronts and rivers due to its 1800s design.

“And it will fail once ocean water levels rise due to climate change. We recycle garbage that is not processed at recycling centers, causing much of our recycled waste to end up in landfills. We need to review and rewrite city regulations to allow new technology and new initiatives to reduce plastics and other recyclables from our garbage.”

Alfonso Quiroz (D)

Quiroz, who works in the Public Affairs Department at Con Edison, aims to “rebuild our city’s economy and ensure that these efforts work to help working families; expand access to healthcare; invest more money towards our public schools; assist small businesses and promote workforce expansion especially among underserved communities like LGBQT+ youth.”

Quiroz, who lives in Jackson Heights with his husband, Jeff Simmons, has served as a district leader, a member of the area community board and on various civic and neighborhood organizations. He served as president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens.

He is vice president of the JFK Democratic Club. Quiroz is also a member of the Stonewall Democratic Club and the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, served on the executive board of Queens Theatre and is the founder of the 37th Avenue Sidewalk Cafe Coalition.

Quiroz served as an intern for President Clinton in 1995 and as deputy chief of staff to former Councilmember Helen Sears.

Carolyn Tran (D)

Tran served as Dromm’s chief of staff and is looking to replace him.

“As your representative in City Council, I pledge to lead with budget justice, including defunding the NYPD and re-investing these funds into healthcare, schools, and social services that promote and nurture public safety and strong communities,” she said on her campaign website.

Tran pledges to support the passage of a prevailing minimum wage and demand all workers, including part-time, gig, freelance and independent contractors, receive healthcare, sick days and paid leave regardless of immigration status.

Other goals include supporting “a universal and comprehensive quality healthcare system that is accessible to all persons regardless of immigration or economic status, including the Medicare for All and the New York Health Act Campaigns”; supporting free CUNY tuition for all undocumented students; and holding the “NYPD accountable on all forms” as Tran said the department is making New Yorkers of color feel less safe.

She also wants “an end to the overpolicing of our immigrant communities, including at train stations, on the streets, and with street vendors.”

Candidate Lucy Cerezo-Scully could not be reached for this story.

The primary election is June 22 and the general election is Nov. 2.

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