Packed race to represent District 26 1

From left to right: Jonathan Bailey, Giselle Burgess, Badrun Kahn, Jesse Laymon, Micah Peterson, Steven Raga, Sultan Maruf and Emily Sharpe 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 City Council seat continues to grow — 18 candidates are vying to represent District 26.

Last week the Chronicle introduced 10 of them. Here are the other 8.

Jonathan Bailey (D)

Jonathan Bailey had been serving as the co-chairperson of the Queens branch of the Democratic Socialists of America, but stepped down to run in the District 26 City Council race. The Woodside resident has experience working as a teacher and nonprofit administrator and now works in logistics at Amazon. Bailey’s main campaign priority is housing — he plans to fight all forms of gentrification and fight for affordability. Rents and housing taxes are burdens on the district, he said. He also aims to pass a Workers Bill of Rights and the Elected Civilian Review Board Legislation, as well as push for a robust Green New Deal.

“We need substantive change. I am committed to helping us achieve that change.”

Giselle Burgess (D)

Giselle Burgess is a supporter of defunding and reforming the NYPD. She organized a Juneteenth march last summer that called for systemic change within the department, which she said disproportionately targets communities of color. According to her social media accounts, Burgess is an advocate for homeless resources and for housing rights, as well as the establishment of affordable housing for all so that native New Yorkers will not be priced out of their communities. Burgess has also shown support for encouraging additional science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, classes in public schools and fighting for environmental justice.

Badrun Khan (D)

Badrun Khan is a Sunnyside resident and progressive candidate. Her role as the financial controller of the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. has influenced her No. 1 candidacy priority — to provide cash grants to small businesses to help reopen from Covid-related closures. Badrun promises to alleviate undue tax burdens and government regulations. She also plans to enact universal rent control and bring a universal basic income to the city, provide taxi medallion owner relief and fully fund special education programs in our public schools.

“One of the strongest impulses that drove my decision to run for City Council was to be an inspiration for my daughters, and to more broadly be an inspiration to the young women in our city. I am a woman, I am the child of Bangladeshi immigrants, and I am Muslim. Many times in my life I’ve faced ignorance and discrimination based on how I look or who I am and I persevered throughout my education and through my career. It’s one thing to be able to tell the next generation that the world is a better place than it once was, but sometimes words are not enough, sometimes we need to demonstrate that the barriers we face in life can become the challenges of the past.”

Jesse Laymon (D)

Coalition organizer and public policy director Jesse Laymon has lived in Dutch Kills since 2004 and identifies as a progressive. His campaign largely focuses on racial and environmental justice, which he finds often overlap in the forms of fossil fuel pollution, greener housing and open space. One change Laymon plans to make is closing dirty power plants located in communities of color. He also plans to replace the NYPD with a Community Health and Safety model, guarantee jobs for young people at small businesses and transform public spaces, especially street space.

“I feel our Mayor and other elected leaders in NYC have failed to live up to their values, and that we need to elect new leadership that will be focused and committed to achieving transformative changes to our systems of justice, energy, housing, and transportation to make NYC an equitable and sustainable city in not just words but in practice.”

Micah Peterson (D)

Originally from Arizona, Micah Peterson has been living in Sunnyside for nine years and works as a product manager for the city Department of Education. His progressive platform closely reflects his experience in education — Peterson’s No. 1 priority is to desegregate city public schools and reform Gifted and Talented programs. He believes educational opportunities should be more inclusive and programs expanded. Peterson also aims to increase protected bike lanes for cyclist and driver safety, place a pied-à-terre tax on homes that are not primary residences and improve fiber optic networks to achieve speeds up to 1,000 megabites per second.

“My vision is to live in a community that is safer and prosperous for all of us. This is my first foray into politics, and I can bring in my experience and fresh ideas and reimagine city policy to meet the needs of our increasingly diverse community.”

Steven Raga (D)

Former Chief of Staff for Assemblymember Brian Barnwell (D-Maspeth) Steven Raga is now the northeast regional manager for policy and advocacy at the Susan G. Komen Foundation, where he oversees healthcare legislation in 11 states. He’s lived in the Little Manila community of Woodside for over 16 years, but his family immigrated from the Philippines during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. The longtime progressive wants to provide economic relief for renters, homeowners, and small businesses. He believes true recovery includes stable, affordable housing. His other focuses are healthcare access, education and transportation.

“As a longtime resident of the district, I’ve been fighting for our neighbors for over 16 years. I’ve repeatedly volunteered to lead on immigration reform, resource access for small businesses, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and human & civil rights advocacy. As we transition out from the impacts of COVID-19, having our next City Council Member understand how local government functions, as well as understand how volunteer advocacy efforts need sustained support, will only make the process easier for all residents. Hopefully, I can bring that perspective to the race.”

Sultan Maruf (D)

Human rights activist Sultan Maruf considers himself “too much liberal.” He has lived in the district for nearly two decades, currently on the Long Island City and Astoria border. His primary campaign priority is securing affordable housing and ending homelessness, a plight he himself has experienced. As a strong advocate for the poor, Maruf pledges to donate 50 percent of his Council salary to select charities for his first two years of service. He also plans to provide free public transit and install elevators in all subway stations, establish a citizen jury trial for various issues and to ensure legal assistant grants for the needy.

“I am running to make a better place for our communities. I have witnessed and endured so much corruption in city and state level that I want to make a difference so that others will have a better future.”

Emily Sharpe (D)

Attorney Emily Sharpe has been an advocate for her neighborhood for the 23 years she’s lived in it. She is the founder of Stop Sunnyside Yards, a neighborhood group dedicated to blocking the development project that she believes would extend large skyscrapers farther into the borough. The anti-neoliberal progressive candidate’s main objective is to ensure that longtime residents, including those in public housing, and small business owners can afford to live and operate in the city. She believes that NYC would lose its character if its residents are priced out, thus destroying its history and uniqueness. Sharpe also hopes to fix and expand mass public transportation, alter the City Charter to give the mayor less power and control over the city and to shift NYPD and city Economic Development Corp. funding to the Department of Education to improve equity.

“I’m running for City Council because I want my friends, family, neighbors and small businesses to not be displaced by the pro-development policies that current electeds have embraced that have led to skyrocketing rents and property taxes. I also want to give political power back to everyday people, and not have our city be beholden to corporate and special interests — I want NYC to prioritize the people instead of the 1 percent.”


This story has been updated to correct a typo.


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