Endorsement Time: StreetsPAC Makes its Initial Council Selections
With City Council primary elections just one month away, StreetsPAC, the city’s only political action committee dedicated to livable streets issues, has released its coveted endorsements in 15 races — with more to come.
The group said its endorsements were the result of reviewing more than 100 questionnaire responses and conducting scores of interviews. The reason? So many people are running because so many seats are open because of Council term limits. (The downside? These are all two-year terms because the Census will require redistricting — so we have to do this all over again in two years.)
More and more candidates are boosters of the street safety agenda, which was seen as a fringe issue eight years ago.
“It’s deeply gratifying to see how far candidates have come in just a few years in prioritizing safer streets and better public transit in their campaigns, and it’s testament to the work that we’ve done, in partnership with fellow advocacy organizations like Transportation Alternatives and Riders Alliance, among many others, to advance the conversation on these incredibly important issues,” StreetsPAC said in a statement.
Here are the endorsements:
Erik Bottcher (District 3, West Side): Bottcher, who was Corey Johnson’s Chief of Staff, impressed StreetsPAC with his commitment to bringing street-safety improvements to 10th Avenue and to extending the Sixth Avenue protected bike lane south of Ninth Street.
Sara Lind (District 6, Upper West Side): Lind hopes to succeed term-limited Helen Rosenthal. StreetsPAC praised her for her support for the Central Park West protected bike lane (and wanting more such lanes crosstown). Lind also has a bold plan for Broadway. The group also had nice things to say about term-limited Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who is running to reclaim her old Council seat, but ultimately chose the “fresh ideas and energy” of Lind.
Marti Allen-Cummings (District 7, Harlem/Washington Heights): Allen-Cummings got the group’s nod for their support for crosstown busways on 125th, 145th and 157th streets. They would support more bike lanes and subsidizing Citi Bike to expand it further. StreetsPAC did say there are several other good candidates in the race, but it did not name them. (City and State did this preview of the race to succeed term-limited Mark Levine.)
Incumbents: The group also endorsed Carlina Rivera (Lower Manhattan) and Keith Powers (East Side) for re-election.
Pierina Sanchez (District 14, Morris Heights/University Heights): Sanchez was the New York director at the Regional Plan Association before moving to City Hall to work on housing, land use, economic development and labor issues. She emphasized her support for “faster and more reliable bus service, an expanded Fair Fares program, and adoption of the Freedom Ticket for intra-city trips on Metro North and the LIRR.” The seat is currently occupied by term-limited Fernando Cabrera.
Amanda Farias (District 18): Voters finally get a chance to move past the divisiveness and homophobia of retiring Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr., who beat Farias last time around. Farias is a board member of Riders Alliance, and said she would focus on improving transit access by expanding the Fair Fares program and by bringing Citi Bike across the Bronx River (with new protected bike lanes, too). The group suggested that Michael Beltzer would be a good second-place vote.
Austin Shafran (District 19, Flushing/College Point): Shafran nearly won this seat eight years ago, but lost to Council Member Paul Vallone by fewer than 200 votes in the 2013 Democratic primary (Vallone is term-limited). Shafran said he would expand open streets and expand the local bike network. He also said he’d work to make Northern Boulevard safer.
John Choe (District 20, Flushing): Choe, who leads the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, hopes to succeed term-limited Peter Koo, who has been an opponent of transit and street-safety projects like the Flushing busway, which Choe supported. Choe, a daily bike commuter, said he would create the “Flushing Ring,” a protected bike lane network that would feed the downtown area.
Jaslin Kaur (District 23, Eastern Queens): With Barry Grodenchik not seeking re-election, StreetsPAC recommends Kaur, an education-equity and immigration-rights activist who rides the Q46 and said she is committed to improving the district’s public transit.
Nantasha Williams (District 27, Springfield Gardens): Williams is a champion of the Freedom Ticket, and told StreetsPAC that she will advocate for bike-, scooter-, and car-sharing programs. She also favors street redesigns to reduce speeding.
Aleda Gagarin (District 29, Forest Hills): With Karen Koslowitz term-limited, the district has a chance to elect someone who supports transit and street safety projects. Gagarin, an urban planner, said she is committed to redesigning streets to improve safety and accessibility, especially for seniors, and to facilitate more protected bike lanes. Gagarin also touted Barcelona-style superblocks for the more dense, transit-rich parts of her district.
Felicia Singh (District 32, Rockaway/Ozone Park): In seeking to succeed term-limited Eric Ulrich, Singh said her priorities are to improve mass-transit options (i.e. better bus service from the Rockaway peninsula to the mainland), and more reliable service on the A train. She wants to expand Citi Bike service into southern Queens (where it is not expected to exist for years under the current plan).
Jennifer Gutiérrez (District 34, Bushwick): Gutiérrez is hoping to succeed her one-time boss, term-limited Council Member Antonio Reynoso. Just as she told Streetsblog earlier this year, Gutiérrez is committed to breaking the car culture, and will prioritize safety improvements. She also wants 14th Street-style busways.
Incumbent: The group also endorsed Justin Brannan for re-election to his Bay Ridge seat.
Read the full first round of endorsements here.
The election is on June 22. Early voting begins on June 12. Click here for more information.