With Covid-19 still a crisis and a $5 billion hole in the budget for a few years to come, there still is no dearth of candidates looking to replace Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) on the City Council.
Seven have filed paperwork with the Campaign Finance Board. The district covers Astoria, East Elmhurst, part of Long Island City, Rikers Island and part of Woodside. Constantinides is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.
Most information compiled here was taken from candidates’ campaign websites.
Leonardo Bullaro, an educator, has worked in the Department of Education’s Office of Innovation.
Among his priorities for education are funding for enrichment programs and the expansion of career and vocational education. On affordable housing Bullaro, a Democrat, wants to reconsider zoning regulations in order to increase the number of affordable units and drive prices down.
Bullaro’s transportation platform includes increasing dedicated bus and bicycle infrastructure. He backs the effort to close the Rikers Island jail complex and would turn the island into a green energy generation hub.
He favors greater oversight and transparency with the NYPD and backs the creation of crisis intervention teams of social workers or trained officers within precincts.
Tiffany Cabán is an attorney and longtime public defender who narrowly lost the 2019 Democratic primary for Queens district attorney to Melinda Katz.
A central tenet of her campaign is eventually disbanding the NYPD, closing Rikers Island and stopping Mayor de Blasio’s plans for four new community jails. Funding would be redirected, among other place, to mental health crisis workers,
She would reinvest the money in housing, education and supportive services. Cabán also supports Green New Deal legislation for the city, as well as commercial rent control for small businesses.
Edwin DeJesus Jr. is seeking the Green Party nomination.
The top item on his website is a $600 weekly universal basic income check, paid for with a 25 percent wealth tax.
He favors closing Rikers Island and opposes new jail construction.
Along with the NYPD, his website proposes “defunding” Democrat and Republican politicians, Gov. Cuomo’s lobbyists, corporate PAC lobbyists, Wall Street executives, big pharmaceutical companies, Hedge fund managers, CNN, The New York Times, Con Edison, National Grid, Big Real Estate executives, Amazon and Target and redistributing the wealth.
“This would reduce the need for law enforcement to exist,” according to his website. “It’s common sense. Increased financial resources will reduce the crime rate, so the NYPD budget naturally decreases.”
Democrat Catherina Gioino is a print and television journalist.
Among her priorities are the creation of more public plazas on open streets in less-trafficked areas and the “pedestrianization” of some city blocks with benches and other amenities. Gioino said the city can raise revenue through a number of economic initiatives, including turning the area around LaGuardia Airport into a layover destination where visitors can take advantage of area cultural attractions.
She also backs closing Rikers and reusing it for clean energy production
Democrat Evie Hantzopoulos has been on Community Board 1 since 2010 and serves as Housing Committee chairwoman. She co-founded Queens Feeds Hospitals/Frontline Foods Queens during the start of the Covid-19 outbreak and refers to herself as a “serial PTA president.”
Hantzopoulos says defunding of the NYPD “must be meaningful” in order to invest in housing, human services, education and infrastructure.
She woud purchase and convert public land in the district for development into community land trusts or development by a public entity or nonprofit, “so that land is removed from the speculative market and can be developed by the community to support affordable housing, small business, public open space, and public community centers and institutions. She also favors transforming Rikers for renewable energy.
Felicia Kalan, the one announced Republican in the race, focuses much of her campaign website on education and small business.
Like some of her opponents, Kalan favors smaller class sizes. While the Specialized High School Admissions Test is coming under fire from many quarters in the city, she wants to expand SHSAT prep opportunities to increase success rates.
Kalan wants to expand trade school and apprenticeship programs, and wants to create a school board to “increase accountability over mayoral control.”
In regard to small businesses, Kalan favors cutting regulations and taxes, and supports rent relief for qualifying small businesses hurt by the pandemic.
She also wants to create a small business incubator site in the district.
Nicholas Velkov is a community activist from Astoria and touts his 10 years of experience as a small businessman, being the founder and owner of Yoga Agora, which has served the neighborhood of Astoria with low-cost and donation-based yoga and meditation classes since 2010.
On issues such a law enforcement, education, healthcare, housing and others, Velkov’s campaign website says “Details to come.”
A Democrat, he states he is running because he believes too few leaders have addressed the need “to build long-term-stability in our communities.”
He believes the city must invest heavily in preventive health techniques throughout the five boroughs.