StreetsPAC: Vote Costa Constantinides for Queens Borough President

Would-be Queens borough president Costa Constantinides. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Would-be Queens borough president Costa Constantinides. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Council Member Costa Constantinides is the “best choice for Queens voters concerned about safer streets and better public transportation,” according to the livable streets political action committee StreetsPAC as it endorsed the Astoria lawmaker over his five rivals in the March 24 special election.

Former Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and Council Member Donovan Richards earned honorable mentions in the StreetsPAC endorsement statement, though paled in comparison to Constantinides. The group put out its endorsement on Monday, since early voting begins on March 14.

Here is the group’s full statement:

While some misconstrue the offices of the five Borough Presidents as largely ceremonial, they in fact carry a good amount of influence. Borough Presidents play an important role in the city’s land-use process, control relatively hefty discretionary and staff budgets, and have sway with city agencies and other elected officials. They can use the bully pulpit of the office to promote, or oppose, city policies and initiatives.

And perhaps most importantly, especially when it comes to street safety and transportation issues, Borough Presidents appoint the members of Community Boards.

For all those reasons, we believe that the upcoming March 24 special election for Queens Borough President is an important one — and it’s why we are endorsing Costa Constantinides for Queens Borough President.

As the City Council Member representing Queens’s 22nd District (Astoria and parts of Jackson Heights, Woodside, and East Elmhurst) since 2014, and as Chair of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee, Constantinides has been a leader in the city’s effort to combat climate change, and he clearly understands the transportation sector’s outsized role in carbon emissions. It’s why he believes it’s so important to get people out of cars, and onto public transit and bikes.

That perspective underscores his strong support for building a real, connected network of protected bike lanes, along with their obvious safety benefits. It’s why he pushed successfully to turn a municipal parking lot on Astoria’s 31st Street into a 100-percent-affordable senior-housing facility, with zero parking spaces. And it’s why he’s been a qualified supporter of the MTA’s redesign of the Queens bus network (though he thinks there’s plenty of room for improvement on the draft plan), and a proponent of the proposed Triboro rail line.

If elected Queens Borough President, Constantinides pledges he will:

  • Reform, professionalize and diversify the Community Board appointment process
  • Develop a borough-wide transportation plan
  • Advocate for improved cycling infrastructure on the RFK/Triboro and Ed Koch/Queensboro Bridges, and a protected bike lane to connect them
  • Seek to transform additional city-owned municipal parking lots into housing

“We have made Queens’ streets more livable over the last six years, but the hard work is still ahead,” says Constantinides. “As Queens Borough President, I plan to create a holistic transportation plan that makes it safer for cyclists and pedestrians alike. I am so honored to have the support of StreetsPAC to improve our streets and create a better mass transit system.”

We do want to recognize one of Constantinides’s opponents, former Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, who impressed us with her commitment to better mass transit for Queens residents. She’s been a strong proponent of reactivating the Long Island Railroad’s abandoned Lower Montauk Branch as a new rail link serving multiple stops between Jamaica and Long Island City. Council Member Donovan Richards, another candidate for Queens BP, has also advocated for improved public transit and the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, but he declined to participate in our endorsement process.

That said, we believe unequivocally that Costa Constantinides is the best choice for Queens voters concerned about safer streets and better public transportation. We are proud to endorse him for Queens Borough President, and urge you to vote for Costa in the special election on Tuesday, March 24 (early voting begins March 14).

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