DECISION 2021: Meet the Council Candidates, Queens Edition (There are a LOT of Them!)

These are just some of the candidates!
These are just some of the candidates!

Earlier this year, we published a mega preview of the key City Council races in Brooklyn. Today, we shift our full attention to Queens.

Everyone’s eyes are on the hotly contested mayor’s race, but this year’s City Council elections are just as transformational. Of the 14 council seats that make up the city’s largest and most diverse borough, 11 have term-limited council members (two of those seats were already filled in special elections in February). That leaves nine wide-open seats, plus three races with an incumbent in the mix.

Some races, like the one in Sunnyside to replace term-limited Jimmy Van Bramer, a safe streets advocate who is now vying for borough president, are stacked with a dozen candidates — all of whom say the right things when it comes to street safety and transportation (which itself is quite different from just eight Vision Zero years ago). But which would-be legislator will truly do right by pedestrians and cyclists — and put the needs and safety of vulnerable road users above cars?

And in some races (looking at you, Flushing and Forest Hills), there’s an opportunity to replace pols who didn’t do enough, or who actually fought against, life-saving street safety projects. Term limits couldn’t come fast enough for supporters of, say, the final phase of the Queens Boulevard protected bike lane, long opposed by Council Member Karen Koslowitz, whose rein ends on Dec. 31, 2021.

Her successor — and all the others — will likely be chosen in the Democratic primary on June 22, which is tantamount to election in most parts of this left-of-center city.

So to get you ready, Streetsblog spoke with dozens of the candidates who met certain campaign fundraising thresholds relevant for each district (some candidates who did meet the threshold did not respond to multiples requests for interviews).

There are literally scores of candidates running across the borough, so if you want to get up to speed on all the races (and all the issues), there’s only one place … below:

District 19 — College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, North Flushing, and Auburndale (Council Member Paul Vallone, term-limited)

Number of reported crashes, January 2019 to date: 6,822, injuring one cyclist, 238 pedestrians (killing one) and 1,449 motorists (killing four).

The district has long been represented by council members who don’t go far enough to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe, or to get constituents out of their own private vehicles. The current officeholder, Paul Vallone, was one of the five members City Council members to vote against a landmark street safety bill last year, which isn’t surprising given that he is himself a reckless driver. Here are the candidates, some of whom pledge to do a better job:

From left: Tony Avella, Adriana Aviles, Richard Lee and Nabaraj KC.
From left: Tony Avella, Adriana Aviles, Richard Lee and Nabaraj KC.

Richard Lee
Budget Director, Queens Borough President
So far raised $68,518

Lee says one of the biggest transportation-related issues facing the district is its inaccessibility to subways, forcing many people to drive, which is why he wants to improve the Island Rail Road service within the city.

“We have to make it more accessible and affordable to see more people use it and get congestion off our roadways; and for people to be able to use that, not only to get to and from Manhattan, but use it within the district,” he said.

But Lee says the roads are too narrow to accommodate busways.

“The issue with bus-only lanes in our areas, the roadways don’t support it. Most people here travel by car, mostly because public transportation is inaccessible. Can we widen some roadways to do this or widen the sidewalks? We need a comprehensive look at our basic transportation infrastructure before we even get to that point. Let’s not just plop down bus lanes or bike lanes without thinking about ‘how do we make this work for the streets in this area?’ are they gonna be able to support it?”

Tony Avella
New York State senator, former Council Member
So far raised $33,205

Avella, who said people reached out to him asking him to run for his old seat, told Streetsblog that he would “certainly work with bike advocates” if elected, despite holding a rally in 2017 calling on DOT to stop installing the two-way protected bike lane on Northern Boulevard between Douglaston Parkway and 223rd Street.

Still, Avella, who once infamously accused Mayor de Blasio of fabricating data on traffic crashes, maintained that the bike lane remains “an issue.”

“There are still accidents there on Northern Boulevard,” he said. “I support what the community board suggested, put it on park land — all you have to do is basically move back the fence.”

Avella also said that he would cut through the red tape that holds up communities getting stop signs.

“One of the things I had worked on was the bureaucratic response from the agencies, when a community ask for additional traffic control — not talking about speed bumps or bike lanes — I’m talking about when a community wants an all-way stop or traffic light, I still hear where residents complain about particularly bad intersections and DOT just gives a bureaucratic response that it doesn’t meet criteria for a stop or traffic light.” (This phenomenon was recently documented in Streetsblog.)

But like Lee, Avella also pushed back at the idea of busways.

“I’d have to sit down and talk about it, it’s a very complicated issue. See if we can come up with a system and that does not negatively affect traffic flow. Many streets are narrow,” he said.

Adriana Aviles
Former NYPD officer
So far raised $13,669

Aviles, who patrolled the subways as an officer for 20 years, says she wouldn’t want her children riding public transit because it’s dangerous and dirty.

“I worked in the transit system, I wouldn’t want my children to be a part of it. It’s really not too safe. I was a police officer for 20 years in the transit system, I saw a lot of things. A lot of homeless, emotionally mentally disturbed people on trains, very dirty,” she said.

But on the streets, Aviles says she’s on board with more protected bike lanes, especially around schools to help children get to school safely.

“There’s definitely not enough protected bike lanes,” she said. “More bike racks [are needed at] every school.”

But when push comes to shove on the mayor’s open streets program, Aviles defended the supposed interests of car owners.

“Closed streets are great, but can’t do it here,” she said. “We have a higher number of residents that need cars to get around.”

Nabaraj KC
Assistant Governor for Rotary District 7255
So far raised $28,844

KC says he’s an ardent supporter of the NYPD and does not want anything to be removed from the agency’s duties, including traffic enforcement.

“Bus lanes need to be updated, that’s for sure. A lot of residents need more bus stop rather than having stops cut. I support the NYPD. I don’t want anything to be removed from the NYPD.”

Austin Shafran, did not respond to request for interview 
President of Metropolitan Public Strategies
So far raised $49,883
Endorsed by StreetsPAC

Francis Spangenberg
Former member of NYPD, guest on Jeopardy!
Did not meet the benchmark

District 20 — Downtown Flushing, Murray Hill, Queensboro Hill (Council Member Peter Koo, term-limited)

Number of reported crashes, January 2019 to date: 6,190, injuring 131 cyclists, 416 pedestrians (killing seven) and 1,140 motorists (killing four).

One of the biggest issues facing the district, which is one of the deadliest places to walk in Queens, has been a newly installed busway on Main Street. The current Council member, Peter Koo, led the charge against the car-free stretch last year, appropriating the Black Lives Matter movement by chanting “Business Lives Matter” in support of Flushing shop owners he claimed would be hurt by the plan.

Some critics even brought the city to court in an attempt to stop the busway in its tracks — a Queens judge tossed out their request for an injunction, allowing DOT to proceed with the project, but a full ruling is pending. And early data shows the busway is already helping to speed up buses. The busway is so contentious that even mayoral candidate Andrew Yang weighed in, wrongly. What do the candidates have to say about it?


(From left): Hailing Chen, John Choe, Ellen Young, Dao Yin
(From left): Hailing Chen, John Choe, Ellen Young, Dao Yin

John Choe
Executive Director of Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce
So far raised $54,629
Endorsed by StreetsPAC

Choe, who was endorsed by StreetsPAC and is a vocal street safety advocate and member of Community Board 7 (for now!), has also been an ardent supporter of the busway, and says he sees the importance of providing accessible transportation as it relates to housing, safety, equity, and resiliency.

“I’ve been a champion for the busway here on Main Street. There’s no protected bike lanes in Flushing. Supporting new technology microbility platforms e-scooters who don’t have access to easy bus service last mile,” he said. “I don’t want to silo the issue of transportation, it’s fundamental to many different areas of city life.”

Choe also said he supports moving traffic enforcement away from the NYPD and into DOT to focus more on preventative measures through design and self-enforcement than through police.

“Shifting the notion of public safety away from the type of militarized policing and incarceration that our city is focused on now towards a new idea of what public safety is,” he said. “There has to be a reinvestment into Vision Zero to ensure that we have infrastructure and policies in place to prevent the slaughter on our streets, District 20 has one of highest rates of fatalities and injuries. I’m committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure more safety on our streets.”

Dao Yin
Secretary-General of the Shanghai Association of America
So far raised $26,748

Unlike Choe, Yin opposes the Flushing busway, just like the term-limited council member he hopes to succeed.

“I am totally against the current form of the busway and how it was implemented,” he told Streetsblog. “I have been involved protesting the current pilot plan and its timing. Flushing has become the Chinatown of New York, and Main Street has become its bustling epicenter. With more community input, I am sure that a plan that benefits the community and business can be struck.”

Hailing Chen
Driver for Uber, works with Independent Drivers Guild
So far raised $43,220

As a driver for Uber, Chen says he sees first hand the congestion on city streets and the need to alleviate it, in part by getting people out of private cars.

“I rely on my job to drive a car, which is similar to public transit — one way we reduce traffic jams in NYC. People don’t really need to have personal cars to get from one spot to another,” he said.

Chen, who occasionally bikes, said the safely of cyclists is very important to him, which is why he supports protected bike lanes. But he also contradicted the street safety movement by saying his neighborhood needs more parking spots so drivers aren’t circling the block, which he says is what causes congestion and dangerous streets. (Studies show that the existence of parking increases the likelihood that people who own cars will use them more.)

“If we want to improve traffic jams, we really need to set a larger number of parking spaces for bikes and cars. Cars on the road are simply circulating the block because they couldn’t find a parking spot, which adds traffic jams and also inconveniences bikes and cars coming in and out of the street. Parking has to be very affordable,” he said.

And on the Main Street busway, Chen was more diplomatic than some of his competitors, saying it’s crucial to improve bus speeds, though he quibbled with the city on its design.

“The Main Street busway is very important as it has to be inclusive of everyone’s ability to share the road efficiently, to improve the bus speeds and also provide available space for some cars. Fourteenth Street [in Manhattan] is a very different dynamic. You just cannot simply apply one thing to another thing,” he said.

Ellen Young
Former Assembly Member for the 22nd District
So far raised $68,535

Young said she decided to run for the seat primarily because she’s so angered by the Main Street busway and wants to fight it.

“The main reason I decided to run was because the busway is a punitive tax on our community. This busway is murdering Flushing. Cars are forced to circle side streets, and it creates air pollution. The busway was well intentioned, but it’s a terribly executed policy causing so much harm and damage,” she said.

Sandra Ung, did not respond to request for interview 
Special Assistant to Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens)
So far raised $109,504

Anthony Miranda, did not respond to request for interview 
Retired NYPD officer
So far raised $25,695

Neng Wang, did not respond to request for interview 
Retired as Director of CPC’s Queens Nan Shan Senior Center
So far raised $140,348

District 21 — East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Corona in Queens, including Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Lefrak City and LaGuardia Airport (Council Member Francisco Moya, incumbent)

Streetsblog is not covering this race.

District 22 — Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside (vacated earlier this year by term-limited Council Member Costa Constantinides)

Number of reported crashes, January 2019 to date: 5,260, injuring four cyclists (killing one), 301 pedestrians (killing two) and 1,166 motorists (killing four).

The former pol, who announced he was resigning from his seat in March to run a non-profit helping kids, has been good on issues related to safe streets. Before dropping out of the Borough President’s race, Constantinides called for massive improvements to transit across the borough to help break the car culture, and reduce the city’s increasing production of toxic greenhouse gas emissions. And he called for the NYPD to stop cracking down on delivery cyclists. Constantinides threw his support behind candidate Tiffany Caban to replace him.

The candidates:

(From left) Leonardo Bullaro, Evie Hantzopoulos and Tiffany Caban.
(From left) Leonardo Bullaro, Evie Hantzopoulos and Tiffany Caban.

Evie Hantzopoulos
Executive Director of Global Kids
So far raised $61,263

Hantzopoulos, who is also a member of Community Board 1 and endorsed by StreetsPAC as its second choice rank, says she’s a strong supporter of building out a protected network of bike lanes — both to keep her own kids and everyone else’s safe.

Hantzopoulos says that she’d push back against entitled drivers who say they don’t want to lose their parking spaces by telling them that having protected bike lanes helps them, too.

“In terms of building out bike infrastructure, I really want to have protected bike lanes. For a lot of people, cars rule the road. I have three kids, two of them are bikers, I want them to be safe when they’re cycling,” she said. “What I say to drivers when they complain is that, ‘it helps you ast a driver, so you’re not going to put other people at risk.'”

And on how she’d fix Crescent Street, near where a truck driver killed a delivery worker back in November, Hantzopoulos said the bike lane needs some tweaks, like allowing some space for loading zones, and that it needs to be more protected.

“What happened is a tragedy. I think there could be maybe some tweaks, like a loading area. It’s a fixable solution,” she said.

And as far as other ideas, Hantzopoulos says that 21st street needs “a total revamping” to make it more pedestrian friendly. Instead of putting the now-dead BQX down 21st Street, the city could turn it into a busway, she said.

Leonardo Bullaro
So far raised $44,135

Bullaro said he regularly bikes 50 miles a week as a commuter, and is a strong advocate for protected bike lanes after getting doored several years ago in an unprotected lane.

But more than bikes, Bullaro believes in buses, and doing everything the city can to get people out of cars — and that includes charging for parking, he said.

“How do we incentivize people to use other modes than a car? If we make buses more efficient, people will use it,” he said. “Can we meter all parking space to de-incentivize people using cars, but not eliminate the car altogether?”

Bullaro also said he supports removing the NYPD from traffic enforcement, both before and after a crash.

“It takes the bias out of enforcement. I will push for policies that decriminalize jaywalking, riding bikes on sidewalks, and targeting delivery workers,” he said. “Police immediately come out and say (a crash) was an accident. We really need to investigate this stuff with more cameras. Cameras work.”

Tiffany Caban
Public defender
So far raised $102,175
Endorsed by StreetsPAC

Caban, who narrowly lost her bid against Melinda Katz for Queens District Attorney in 2019, is now trying to represent the people of Queens as a council member, but on the same platform of advocating for safety and equity. Caban said that not only should bike lanes be more protected, but they should also be connected into a true network of protected bike lanes that can safely take people where they need to go.

“We need to add more bike lanes, and need to make sure they are protected. Connectivity is a huge thing. So much of what we do as a government is reactionary. We only see new bike lanes or new protective measures after someone dies in areas where it happens, rather than zooming out and looking at streets with these pattern,” said Caban.

Caban is fully on board with not only open streets, but making them so-called superblocks to create more walkable cities.

“I support not just permanent open streets, but [Barcelona] superblock models, and really incentivizing 15-minute neighborhoods, so people are able to access all of the things they need in a way that is bikeable, and walkable,” she said.

And as a public defender, Caban also told Streetsblog back in February that she supports moving away from a carceral system to react to traffic violence, and instead towards restorative practices that focus on changing driver behavior both before and after a crash.

John Ciafone
Did not meet the benchmark (he has raised $163,360, but from a loan to his own campaign)

Nick Velkov
Owner of Yoga studio
Did not meet the benchmark

Catherina Gioino
Did not meet the benchmark

Edwin DeJesus
Film gig worker
Did not meet the benchmark

District 23 — Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens, Queens Village (Council Member Barry Grodenchik, term-limited)

Number of reported crashes, January 2019 to date: 6,498, injuring 38 cyclists, 183 pedestrians (killing six) and 1,929 motorists (killing 12).

Grodenchik didn’t do much to help his district’s accessibility issues, or keep pedestrians or cyclists safe. Not only did he vote “no” on the council bill to keep reckless drivers off the streets, but in 2017, he also stoked fear in a DOT project meant to make it safer to walk outside a local school, and in 2018, he assailed congestion pricing as “elitist.” The candidates vying to replace Grodenchik vary in knowledge and support for street safety. Can someone better replace him?

The candidates:

(From left) Steve Behar, Jaslin Kaur, Linda Lee, Harpreet Toor.
(From left) Steve Behar, Jaslin Kaur, Linda Lee, Harpreet Toor.

Jaslin Kaur
Sikh Punjabi organizer, survivor advocate
So far raised $43,798

Kaur, who is endorsed by StreetsPAC and a self-declared devoted rider of the Q46, would be the first woman and person of color to represent the district. Kaur applauded Queens Borough President Donovan Richards in taking the first step to diversify community boards, which are often disproportionately filled with White residents and also with car owners, in favor of more people of color, and those who rely on public transit. But she recognizes there’s still more to do.

“The first step Donovan Richards took is already an immense step forward, even just including folks who are straphangers, bus riders, people who walk, and people with disabilities. It’s really important how we influence community appointments,” she said.

Community boards can influence the neighborhoods they’re supposed to represent by voting in favor of bike lanes and bus lanes, which Kaur said are both crucial to the transit-starved district.

“We need to see more protected bike lanes, not just paint. I want to see protection for bike lanes near local schools, if many students can’t drive, and more connected bike lanes close to popular bus stops,” she said.

Kaur added that the Main Street busway is something she’d like to replicate in the district.

“It’s one of those things that sometimes the data speaks for itself — it’s absolutely optimized travel. If we can optimize it there, why not in transportation deserts like ours?”

Kaur also supports open streets, as not just a safe car-free space, but to help bring more business to local mom-and-pop stores.

“Open streets are one of the best outcomes of the pandemic. Make them permanent. More public spaces for people to interact is vital for a lot of family members. And it’s a really amazing opportunity to bring more foot traffic to businesses,” she said.

Harpreet Toor
Financial consultant, former community liaison for Assembly Member David Weprin
So far raised $37,950

Toor, who is now learning to drive according to his Twitter posts, told Streetsblog that public transportation is a vital part of the city, and is crucial to its survival to get people out of private cars and into alternative modes like buses, trains, and bikes.

“Public transportation is the core of any city, but New York City is even more dependent on public transportation — we need to not only improve public transit, but diversify the modes of public transportation, and reach out to the outer parts of Queens. There has to be a combination of busways, and also providing more bike lanes,” he said.

But Toor was less affirmative about putting such bus lanes, bike lanes, or even open streets in his own district before studying how they would interact with cars.

“Both need to coexist on the streets, there has to be a proper study,” he said. “Open streets are a great idea, no doubt about it, but they should be staggered instead of having permanent ones.”

Steve Behar
Counsel to Council Member Barry Grodenchik
So far raised $64,597

Behar, who was also previously Grodenchik’s campaign manager and has been endorsed by him, said he believes in the need to expand bike and bus lanes in the district — but that they cannot entirely take away parking.

“We need to balance the need for parking with the need to allow people the option of biking to their destination. Biking makes our community healthy, and is good for our planet,” he said.

And Behar, who said he believes community boards should purely be advisory, said he’d like to see a busway like the one in Flushing on Union Turnpike for the Q46.

Linda Lee
President and CEO of Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York
So far raised $65,683

As a member of Community Board 11, Lee said she’s very familiar with the MTA’s forthcoming (but on hold due to COVID) bus redesign plan and the need to provide better, more efficient service to a transit desert like the district she’s trying to represent.

But Lee wasn’t immediately sold on providing that more efficient service by creating busways and bus-only lanes, saying a balance must be struck with providing parking for small businesses.

“I’m very familiar with the conversations taking place with the MTA and trying to engage the community on the bus redesign. We’re a transit desert that does rely heavily on buses — how do you strike a balance with small businesses? My perspective is, we do need parking for patrons. We need to figure out a solution, where does it make sense to possibly put bus lanes so it’s not as congested?” said Lee.

Lee also said residents must have a seat at the table when installing bus lanes and bike lanes so that it doesn’t impact parking near their homes.

“It shouldn’t block off any sort of access to people’s homes, or impact parking near their house. We need to make sure residents have a seat at the table, and put them in places that make sense,” she said.

Koshy O. Thomas, did not respond to request for interview 
Law Graduate, small business associate
So far raised $37,018

Sanjeev Kumar Jindal, did not respond to request for interview 
Chief Executive Officer at Ace Agent Financial
So far raised $42,240

Debra Markell, did not respond to request for interview 
District Manager of Community Board 2, State Committee Member, 26th Assembly district
So far raised $39,206

District 24 — Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica (Council Member James Gennaro, won the special election)

Streetsblog is not covering this race due to Gennaro’s recent win.

District 25 — Elmhurst, Jackson Heights (Council Member Danny Dromm Term-limited)

Number of reported crashes, January 2019 to date: 4,295, injuring 206 cyclists, 334 pedestrians (killing four) and 793 motorists (killing two).

One of the hottest issues facing the district now is a fight over making 34th Avenue — just one small stretch of roadway in a neighborhood with scores of other roads — car-free. The open street has become the gold standard of the program that the city launched during the pandemic to give residents a place to get socially distanced recreation, but some community members are pushing back. Of the candidates Streetsblog spoke with, most are on the same page about the success of the open street, but not everyone.

The candidates:

Shekar Krishnan vs. Carolyn Tran
Shekar Krishnan vs. Carolyn Tran

Carolyn Tran
Single mother, public servant
So far raised $47,063

Tran, who has been a longtime advocate for expanding public space in the community like at Travers Park, said she and her daughter biked more than 100 miles together last summer, and deeply cares about pedestrian and cyclist safety. She said she’d like to see more connectivity with the bike lanes to actually help people’s commutes, not just recreationally. She got StreetsPAC’s No. 2 nod.

“This district’s bike lanes are not well planned out, or connected. That’s been something I’ve been hearing from constituents — about having a better network that connects east to west and north to south, and is safe for families and cyclists,” she said.

Tran wants to take 34th Avenue and multiply it throughout the district, especially in areas that are more underserved and don’t have as much access to green space. But she also said it must be a community-led process.

“It’s a great space for our community members who don’t have the luxury of escaping the city. The next iteration should become more permanent park space, and expanded,” she said. “I’m a big fan of open streets, and a bigger fan of expanding to communities that are often ignored in these processes. 34th Avenue is wonderful, but resources are often always focused in Jackson Heights. In Elmhurst, people would love to see open streets there, like on Woodside Avenue.”

Tran also said she sees the potential for busways and Select Bus Service on Northern Boulevard.

“An SBS on Northern Boulevard is a great idea, and I’m looking at other cities that have really true SBS lanes,” she said. “I believe we need to move away from car culture and emphasize more public transportation.”

Shekar Krishnan
Civil rights lawyer
So far raised $79,054
Endorsed by StreetsPAC

Krishnan, whom StreetsPAC recommends as a first choice vote, has also been a strong advocate of open space in his community, recently penning an op-ed in Streetsblog about how communities like Jackson Heights and Elmhurst have been disenfranchised by racial and environmental injustices stretching back to the era of Robert Moses and before.

Like Tran, Krishnan sees the importance of prioritizing pedestrians and cyclists over cars.

“I was one of the leaders of the envisioning process to expand Travers Park to what it is today,” he said. “If we are to be a sustainable city we have to prioritize mass transit, and prioritize bus use in our neighborhoods.”

Krishnan does not believe that community boards should have veto power over things like open space, but said that the community must have an input — a point of contention in the district now as residents are sparring over making permanent the 34th Avenue open street.

“I think a decision about open space must be determined by the people, and residents of our community can have a voice. I do not think community boards should have veto power when it comes to visions like open space,” he said.

And elsewhere in the district, Krishnan said Northern Boulevard is in dire need of a major overhaul to make it safer and more efficient for bus riders, cyclists, and pedestrians.

“We have to make sure we’re creating bus lanes, like an express lane on Northern Boulevard, for example. We also need to have protected bike lanes on Northern Boulevard too. Right now it’s a dangerous highway, it’s been the sight of so many car accidents. That has to change,” he said.

Alfonso Quiroz
Member of Community Board 3, Democratic District Leader (when asked to discuss the race, he sent over a statement slamming Streetsblog for its coverage of 34th Avenue and declined to answer any questions)
So far raised $42,304

Yi Andy Chen, did not respond to request for interview 
Former Asian Community Liaison Director for New York State Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz, Queens Executive Director-(BRACE), member of NYPD 110th Precinct Auxiliary
So far raised $132,835 

Fatima Baryab, did not respond to request for interview 
Co-founder of SUKHI New York
So far raised $30,113

Liliana Melo, did not respond to request for interview 
Small Business Owner, District Leader in the 34th Assembly District
So far raised $26,024

Manuel Perez 
Founder of 3 Democratic Clubs in Queens, manager in Public, Private and Non-Profit sectors
Did not meet the benchmark

William Salgado
Did not meet the benchmark

District 26 — Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Astoria, Dutch Kills (Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, term-limited)

Number of reported crashes, January 2019 to date: 8,777, injuring 340 cyclists (killing three), 410 pedestrians (killing four) and 1,956 motorists (killing six).

The race to replace Van Bramer, who is running for Queens Borough President, is the most crowded in Queens, and is filled with several equally progressive candidates. But among them, who will actually fight for more space for pedestrians and cyclists, and what do they think of the Crescent Street bike lane — which advocates say is not adequately protected?

The candidates:

(Clockwise from top left): Amit Bagga, Brent O'Leary, Denise Keehan Smith, Hailie Kim, Julie Won, Steven Raga, Jesse Laymon and Julia Forman.
(Clockwise from top left): Amit Bagga, Brent O’Leary, Denise Keehan Smith, Hailie Kim, Julie Won, Steven Raga, Jesse Laymon and Julia Forman.

Brent O’Leary
Board President, Woodside on the Move, business and finance lawyer
So far raised $54,833

A self-described FDR democrat, O’Leary said he’d fight for city control of the MTA — a notably difficult promise that’s also been a focus of Andrew Yang’s mayoral campaign.

“We need to take the MTA back, put the NYC subway system underneath control of the city, and put more people on the MTA board,” he said.

O’Leary said he wants to build out an “extensive bike network,” and also supports expanding the ferry and keeping its subsidies.

Speaking about another boondoggle, the now-dead BQX, O’Leary said he favors running buses on the same proposed route.

“I believe buses running the same route would cost about 1/100ths of that,” he said. “We need to try to make a more extensive public transit system so people don’t have to use cars to get places.”

Julie Won
Digital Strategy Consultant, member of Community Board 2
So far raised $71,605
Co-endorsed by StreetsPAC

Won said she sees transportation through the lens of racism and environmental racism after growing up seeing her dad biking to work and her mom getting hit by a car.

“I think it’s important to recognize the intersectionality of racism and environmental racism, especially as a woman of color who grew up cycling,” she said. “I saw my dad bike each way to work at a liquor store. Cycling has been a necessity, not a luxury. This was how we were going to get around so we could save enough money to buy a car. My mom was hit by a car [driver] in Queens, and seeing the damage that a motor vehicle can do to a human body is devastating, especially for a working family that is underinsured.”

Won, who was also hit by a driver, said the streets need to be designed for people, not for cars, and that starts with making sure they are designed to physically prevent crashes without having to rely on police enforcement.

“When I talk about safety through design, I mean self-enforcing streets like going from four lanes to three lanes, road diets, rebuilding intersections, and having certain risers to make people slow down,” she said.

Won believes she would have the autonomy to implement new street safety projects, even if that meant some residents were opposed because they didn’t want to lose parking.

“Luckily for me, I am an independent agent, not a life-long career pol who is beholden to the current administration. If someone were to tell me they can’t take away a lane for a bus, then I would tell them they’re wrong. We need to redesign our bus network and expand service ridership for people most impacted by Covid, who are the very people who can’t afford to have a car. Those are the people I’m representing,” she said.

And Won said she sees placard abuse as an issue and impediment to keeping pedestrians and cyclists safe.

Hailie Kim
Adjunct professor in English Literature at Hunter College
So far raised $25,691

Streetsblog spoke with Kim the day after the devastating crash in Astoria, when a speeding driver fatally struck Xing Long Lin. She said the city must keep people safe by building more protective infrastructure.

“I definitely think we did need to think more carefully about how we’re gonna keep people safe who are dining outside. Last night shouldn’t have happened, it’s up to us to come up with a plan,” she said.

Kim, who said she supports moving the NYPD out of traffic enforcement, would install a dedicated bus lane on Northern Boulevard; and she would install visible traffic cameras, she said.

Julia Forman
Attorney, board member of the Dutch Kills Civic Association
So far raised $34,430

Forman, who said she doesn’t refer to modes of transportation like biking or taking the bus as alternatives “because it creates the belief that driving is the typical form,” endorsed a full network of connected bike lanes, and bringing a busway installed on Main Street in Flushing to her district.

“We need a connected network of protected bike lanes installed in this district — less piecemeal, more connected. Why is there not one in Western Queens?” she said, but declined to say exactly where she’d put one.

Forman also said she sees placard abuse and narrow, cramped sidewalks not just as a safety hazard, but also as an accessibility issue.

“Getting cars off the sidewalks and parking enforcement go hand in hand with traffic enforcement,” Forman said. “When people talk about sidewalks, it’s an accessibility issue.”

Jesse Laymon
Formerly of the NYC Employment and Training Coalition
So far raised $28,268

Laymon, who is StreetsPAC’s third-choice pick, said he broke his leg while biking to work on Flushing Avenue in 2012 before there was a protected bike lane, sees the problems with poor street design first hand and through the eyes of a cyclist.

“It was caused by bad road design — a truck blocking the bike lane — all the things those that pay attention to our streets know about,” he said, referring to Crescent Street as a bike lane that needs to be better protected. “I do think Crescent should be fully protected, it’s filled with chronically bad offenders.”

Laymon said he’s heard from people who live near Crescent Street who don’t even bike but have recognized how safer and quieter the street is.

“A lot of people who live around there, who don’t necessarily bike, talk about how much nicer it’s made the experience of living on the street. Even if you’re not a cyclist, it’s a traffic calmer. We used to have a huge problem with cars speeding. The street now feels quieter, more residential,” he said.

Laymon said he’s also such a fan of busways that they are the focus of his campaign, and he would like to install one 21st Street or 35th Avenue in his district.

“Busways are really the focus of my campaign — environmental justice problems, racial, and climate sustainability. Busways I think are really a perfect example of our transit infrastructure,” he said. “Not only is it environmentally disruptive, but by centering the automobile as transit, it’s also racially unjust because so many working class and people of color rely on the bus to get to work, or take the bus to get the train to work. I strongly support truly separated busways … on 21st Street.”

Amit Bagga
Ran the city’s first-of-its-kind census campaign
So far raised $56,319
Co-endorsed by StreetsPAC

Like many of his competitors, Bagga also said he sees transportation not only through the lens of infrastructure and climate justice but also as part of economic justice for Black, Brown, Asian and immigrant New Yorkers.

Bagga said the city must address the critical need of installing connected bike lanes as it relates to the future of the city as a whole, and not just as piecemeal projects.

“A lot of the conversation around bike lanes, all the community opposition, boggles the mind. All of us as a city need to take a step back — we’re not coming in as some intrusion, but rather the very foundation upon which we are building a city for the future,” he said. “If you build a protected bike network that connects to subway stations, you’d be much faster to abandon Uber, Lyft, cars than you would be otherwise.”

Bagga also said that one of the issues facing the district has been people drag racing at night, which is something he believes can be solved by street design — that is by physically making it impossible to do.

“Drag racing is a quality of life issue, but I don’t think that policing is necessarily the solution to it. One of the reasons our streets are designed in such a way is that people can easily exploit them. We don’t have a sufficient number of speed bumps, or stop signs,” said Bagga. “If we’re able to redesign our street infrastructure, we would find that by creating a built environment inhospitable to drag racing and really aggressive driving would naturally evaporate it.”

Denise Keehan-Smith
Former Community Board 2 chair
So far raised $26,805

Keehan-Smith, who has opposed street safety measures in the past, told Streetsblog that the fatal and preventable crash in Astoria was an “accident” because of a “medical emergency” — and that interview came days after it had already been reported that the speeding woman who killed Xing Long Lin did not actually have a medical episode.

“I think some great measures have been taken to date. We have lowered speed limits [and added] speed cameras, protected bike lanes, and now some open streets where cars can only go 5 mph,” she said. “I was told it was a medical emergency, that that was the reason that the accident. It’s very unfortunate and sad. I don’t want to see any deaths on the streets. I think it’s all working. I think that the measures of Vision Zero has reduced fatalities.”

Keehan-Smith said she’s particularly concerned about transportation as it relates to people with disabilities.

Steven Raga
Work in non-profit healthcare advocacy as the Northeast Regional Manager of State Policy & Advocacy
So far raised $30,650

Raga said that the fatal crash in his would-be district is a failure of the city’s, which should be responsible for keep people safe by providing the necessary infrastructure and preventing reckless and speeding drivers.

“It’s definitely a failure on the city’s part, not on folks just trying to make a living, or on residents, or those delivering food,” he said.

Raga said he’d also fight to make public transportation, not private cars, the primary mode of transportation by expanding and incentivizing micro mobility options, implementing transit signal priority, and building out protected bike and bus lanes.

“Bikers are constantly just trying to get from point A to point B. We need to continue to install bike lanes where they are needed, and when the community is saying, ‘we need this here, it’s dangerous,’” he said. “I support expanding micro-mobility, and finding ways to make it more accessible; and at the same time, making sure that the rules of traffic safety are being followed.”

Jonathan Bailey, did not respond to request for interview
Anti-gentrification activist, executive committee member of Justice for All Coalition and a member of Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, recently stepped down as Queens DSA Co-Chair
So far raised $20,781 

Ebony Young, did not respond to request for interview
Executive Director at the local Y in LIC
So far raised $47,285

Glennis Gomez
Works for NYC DOE
Did not meet the benchmark

Sultan Al Maruf
IT Director, federal employee in Census
Did not meet the benchmark

Lorenzo Brea
Former aide to ex-?Brooklyn Council Member Rafael Espinal
Did not meet the benchmark

Emily Sharpe
Founded the coalition Stop Sunnyside Yards
Did not meet the benchmark

Badrun Khan
President of the Jalalabad Association, member of Community Board 2
Did not meet the benchmark

District 27 — Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village, and Springfield Gardens (Council Member I. Daneek Miller, term-limited)

Number of reported crashes, January 2019 to date: 8,719, injuring 114 cyclists, 411 pedestrians (killing one) and 2,923 motorists (killing seven).

Known widely as a transit-desert, the current Council member has been weary to implement broad, sweeping changes to the streetscape in his district (for example, he opposed a busway on Jamaica Avenue). Where do the candidates stand on speeding up buses in their district and other transportation options in a district where so many rely on their cars?

The candidates:

(Clockwise from top left): Kerryanne Burke, Jason Myles Clark, James Johnson, Nantasha Williams, Marie Adam-Ovide, Harold Miller Jr., and Al-Hassan Kanu.
(Clockwise from top left): Kerryanne Burke, Jason Myles Clark, James Johnson, Nantasha Williams, Marie Adam-Ovide, Harold Miller Jr., and Al-Hassan Kanu.

Marie Adam-Ovide
District Manager of Community Board 8
So fair raised $32,618

As the District Manager of Community Board 8, Adam-Ovide said she’s acutely aware of the lack of accessible transportation in the district, and that many of her constituents say they would like to see more buses or trains that go straight to Brooklyn, and not just Manhattan.

“When I go around the district and talk to people, a lot of them say that when they’re trying to get to other places, they need to drive to the train. It goes to Manhattan, but we don’t really have a bus that goes straight to Brooklyn,” she said.

Adam-Ovide agreed with the outgoing Council Member that the Jamaica Avenue busway should be placed on a different thoroughfare because of alleged “issues” it would pose to local businesses. Mayor de Blasio announced in May that the city was moving forward with the busway, plus one on Archer Avenue.

“I think it’s a good idea to get people faster to where they need to go, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be on Jamaica Avenue. There’s some issues with getting people to come to their businesses,” she said.

Adam-Ovide said instead she’d like to see one busway heading in one direction on one street, and then another heading the other on a different street so that people can still park on the opposite side of the street.

“Having one going west, and then another going east, for example, so it’s still a way to compromise for everyone that has concerns,” she said. “It would alleviate that condition and give storekeepers an opportunity to have parking.”

Adam-Ovide also said she supports protected bike lanes, specifically on 121st Avenue, where the street is too wide and encourages speeding.

“I’m really concerned about 121st Avenue. We have bike lanes, and there is room to have protected bike lanes. Sometimes people drive a little faster than they should. There’s room for it, it’s a very wide road,” she said.

Nantasha Williams
Manager, JFK Redevelopment, President and Co-Founder at The Nationhood
So fair raised $62,026
Endorsed by StreetsPAC

Williams said she’s a “strong proponent of community input” for issues like building bus lanes and bike lanes in the district, and said her biggest concern is that the Department of Transportation doesn’t listen to what the community actually wants or needs.

“I am in support of eliminating parking spots on Merrick Boulevard — it’s just indicative of how our community often is treated in terms of listening to community input. I am for protected bike lanes, it’s just in terms of what the community wants,” she said. “In general, I don’t think a one-size fits all approach works. What might work in Bed-Stuy or the Lower East Side in terms of transit, might not work in Southeast Queens.”

But Williams also acknowledged that sometimes people are just afraid of change, and that more education is needed in explaining why a particular bus lane or bike lane is being installed.

“The biggest thing, too, when we look at the impact government has on other areas, what I find is that there’s not a complimentary education piece. When we talk about innovative ways for transportation, a lot of times people are very fearful of change without realizing that change could be beneficial,” she said.

Williams also said she’s an advocate for expanding micro-mobiltiy options in the district.

“I am personally in support of micro-mobility and figuring out ways to create the urban infrastructure to allow for that. I think micro-mobility is more of the way of the future; a faster and cleaner way to get around. I know we need to figure out safety concerns, but it’s all about innovative ways to improve the way we get around the city,” she said.

James Johnson
Community Liasion for Council Member Daneek Miller
So far raised $58,750

Johnson says a focal point of his campaign is expanding bus service since so many older folks in the district rely on buses.

“From day one, I’ll be demanding more buses on our roads. It’s a highly populated senior area, we need to make sure our seniors trying to go to church, and the senior center, can get there. We can’t abandon them,” he said.

But on building out more bus lanes and busways to help those seniors get where they’re going faster, Johnson was less enthusiastic, saying that residents need their cars.

“The whole community was frustrated — we need our cars. Don’t take away things before giving us things,” said Johnson, referring to Merrick Boulevard, and particularly the many abandoned cars that take up space. “DOT has not done its job at all to get rid of the cars, or finding cars for sanitation to tag.”

Johnson said he’d ask the community if they want parking meters instead of a bus lane.

“I’d ask the community, do you want meters instead of bus lanes?” he said. “This campaign is about bringing everybody to the table. If you don’t attend CB meetings or civic meetings, you don’t know what the hell is going on. If the mayor would have asked the community if we wanted this, we would have said, ‘No.’ I don’t think we need it on Merrick, I believe we could have put metered parking there.”

And on bike lanes, Johnson said he’s not sure where bike lanes would work in the district since seniors don’t ride, and he wouldn’t want to take more parking away.

“Our seniors don’t ride bikes. … I just don’t want to take our parking spots away. The community is not shouting for bike lanes, what we’re asking for is adequate transportation. I’m not necessarily against bike lanes, but it does not work in certain parts of the district,” he said.

Harold Miller Jr.
Campaign manager NYC Test and Trace Corps
So far raised $39,868

Miller, who formerly worked in the mayor’s office, said he’s also weary about installing bus lanes or busways in the district since it could allegedly negatively impact businesses.

“We have to see specifics because every street has a different impact … it may interfere with certain deliveries. We need to work through all those issues to ensure minimal impact to businesses,” he said.

And on building out protected bike lanes, Miller said he’s overall supportive of keeping riders safe, but that the district doesn’t need them as desperately as others.

“It’s something we have to evaluate block by block — we need to make sure people are protected, who want to ride bikes in the community. And we need to evaluate particular streets, if it makes sense for protected bike lanes, for both cars and cyclists,” he said. “A lot of the folks who do ride bikes are riding from home, to potentially work or school, if they’re college age. But many of us who live in Southeast Queens live over 15 miles from where we work, and so the appetite for us to bike is less so compared to other parts of the city.”

Kerryanne Burke
Former attorney at NYCHA, President and Founder at The African Diaspora Birthright Organization.
So far raised $24,243 

Like many of her competitors, Burke said she wants to expand the LIRR’s Atlantic Ticket and provide more efficient options to shuttle straphangers between stations, and to other parts of the district.

“Most residents must take a bus to the subway, or to the Long Island Railroad station. It’s quite important to me to have more buses on the line, and a speedier express option. In general, we also need to have some type of commuter ride between the LIRR and subway,” she said.

Burke said having a car in her district is a necessity.

“For me, having a car is necessary because public transportation became very frustrating when I was having to wait, and being late to work all the time was not an option. Luckily I’m financially able to have a car that’s eco-friendly,” she said.

Jason Myles Clark
Attorney at Hamilton Clarke, ex-president, Metropolitan Black Bar Association
So far raised $82,967

Clark said he’s on board with expanding bus service, but not necessarily through dedicated bus lanes or busways, which he says create congestion.

“I think we need to generally increase our bus options, especially electric. In an area with a lot of traffic, there’s only one street lane for cars. It starts to put a bottleneck in that area. It’s not something we should be doing right now,” said Clark, specifically referencing the Archer Avenue busway that the mayor recently reaffirmed his commitment to. “When it comes to that specific project — go back to the drawing board and figure out what we can do, without actually creating bottlenecks.”

Clark said he views DOT and the mayor’s office as deciding what to do for the community without seeking its input.

“It just feels like top-down planning, where folks in the mayor’s office are dictating what needs to be done,” said Clark, suggesting instead putting a busway or bus lanes along Roy Wilkins park.

And Clark said he doesn’t see that bike lanes are needed in the community, and first would like to see more efficient public transportation.

“I don’t necessarily look at Queens as an area where there’s a lot of bike traffic just yet, and it’s not really a cyclist neighborhood. We need to start to move in that direction, it would certainly help in reducing congestion, but I think before we get there, we have to provide effective transportation options,” he said.

Al-Hassan Kanu
District Director for Council Member Daneek Miller, co-founded South East Queens U.P. FRONT Organization
So far raised $33,912

Kanu declined an interview, but provided some of his campaign goals, including expanding the Atlantic Ticket; addressing illegal parking in bus stops, bus lanes and no parking zones; advocating for an additional 0.625-percent increase to the current MTA sales tax within New York City, which would raise $1 billion annually

Rene Hill, did not respond to request for interview
Public accountant, former chair of Community Board 12, executive board member of the St. Albans Chamber of Commerce
So far raised $32,272 

Jermaine Sean Smith 
Director of Youth Development at HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services
Did not meet the benchmark

Leroy Gadsden 
CUNY Professor
Did not meet the benchmark

Anthony Rivers 
Former U.S. Marine and retired police officer
Did not meet the benchmark

District 28 — Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, South Ozone Park (Council Member Adrienne Adams, incumbent) 

Streetsblog is not covering this race.

District 29 — Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill (Council Member Karen Koslowitz, term-limited)

Number of reported crashes, January 2019 to date: 5,908, injuring 92 cyclists (killing one), 320 pedestrians (killing three) and 1,449 motorists.

One of the biggest transportation issues in the district was the delay of the last phase of the Queens Boulevard bike lane, which was DOT had announced it was finish way back in 2018, but has sat in limbo due to apparent political horse-trading over a proposed jail in the neighborhood and the opposition of the local council member. Mayor de Blasio finally announced in May that the city would finish the bike lane by fall.

The candidates:

(From left) David Aronov, Eliseo Labayen, Aleda Gagarin, Lynn Schulman, Dong Hui Zang.
(From left) David Aronov, Eliseo Labayen, Aleda Gagarin, Lynn Schulman, Dong Hui Zang.

Eliseo Dorion Labayen
Graduated from St. John’s University in Political Science in 2016
So far raised $22,645 

Labayen says that the delay in finishing the protected bike lane on Queens Boulevard is personal for him since he grew up living off the former Boulevard of Death, and remembers having to race across it to avoid getting hit.

“I really look at Queens Boulevard very personally — I grew up on 73rd and Queens Boulevard. As a little kid, my mother and I would sprint as fast as we could across the boulevard,” he said. “I would take this as a top priority. I wouldn’t engage in the political horse trading that the current CM [Karen Koslowitz] has engaged in, and not standing up for common-sense reform for prioritizing public safety.”

Labayen also said he wouldn’t give in to locals or business owners opposed to bike lanes or bus lanes because they don’t want to lose their parking.

“This might be a mixed bag for business owners, but I would take the time to educate them that it’s not parking that is keeping you alive, it’s property taxes, e-commerce, and lack of support from the city,” he said.

Labayen said he’s eager to improve all things transportation in the district, including buses and bike lanes.

“I’m definitely very excited to work to expand bus rapid transit, and I stand by the master plan to get as many protected bus lanes, bike lanes, and pedestrian lanes wherever we can,” he said, suggesting installing a busway along 71st and Continental.

Aleda Gagarin
Youth coach, activist, nonprofit leader at Candid
So far raised $33,718
Endorsed by StreetsPAC

Gagarin did not mince words in her assessment of the current council member and her holding up the Queens Boulevard bike lane.

“Largely the hold-up has been a lack of political will. The current CM has been an outspoken critic of losing parking,” she said. “The argument about parking spaces is denying our district environmental and health benefits. A lack of political will by hiding behind small businesses not having a bike lane is not the kind of help our small businesses need — they need real lasting help. Creating walkable, bikeable neighborhoods is shown to help neighborhoods, and not harm them.”

Gagarin, who said she would also like to have a fully electric bus fleet, touted her support for open streets and Barcelona-style superblocks to promote local businesses, like on Austin Street.

“I would love if we had open streets in the district, especially around Austin Street. It would be such a boon to business,” she said.

Donghui Zang
Wall Street analyst, co-founded New York City Residents Alliance
So far raised $29,540

Zang, who earned his PhD at Rice University, said the first thing on his agenda is making sure the subways are clean and safe before he can even worry about making them more efficient and accessible.

“The subways are becoming unsafe, and dirtier than before. We first need to clean and make the subways safe before we talk about efficiency,” he said.

Zang said he supports bike lanes overall, but not necessarily on Queens Boulevard, where there is still some opposition. The city should do a more comprehensive study, he says, before installing it, though DOT has already conducted such studies. Zang said he went out one day last winter and counted the number of cyclists using the bike lane himself.

“I support making long-term investments in bike lanes, but on Queens Boulevard, I see too much opposition from the community. I don’t think DOT has done a good job in communicating,” he said. “I don’t see a comprehensive study or analysis comparing all the different proposals. I went one morning and I just counted how many bikers I saw — I counted about 20 each direction in one hour. I’m not saying it’s too few, and it was winter time.”

Zang said he’d similarly need to evaluate the impact of busways.

“I don’t oppose the idea of busways, but I need to evaluate impact,” he said.

Lynn Schulman
Works in Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s office, former vice-chair of Community Board 6
So far raised $80,752

Schulman, who said she’s happy to finally see Queens Boulevard moving forward, said she sees community boards as playing an important advisory role but that they are often not representative of the actual community.

“Community boards play an important advisory role, and I will take their input into account regarding community issues and projects,” she said. “I believe we can have a community-driven process to design safer streets and improve mobility. My job as a council member is to bring people together to have honest and hard conversations on how to maximize the value of our public spaces and minimize conflict between pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.”

Schulman said she’d do whatever she can to improve bus ridership.

“Buses are the most efficient and effective way to increase mass transit capacity quickly. I am eager to meet with experts to find the best options to improve bus ridership in this district,” she said.

David Aronov
Co-founder of Bukharian Jewish Union, formerly Queens Lead Organizer for NYC Census 2020
So far raised $65,039

Aronov couched much of his support for expanding bike lanes and bus lanes in whether they have community support or not, specifically whether he would bring a busway to the district like the one in Flushing.

“If the project is supported by the community and brings a benefit to the area, then yes,” he said.

Aronov touted open streets as a great idea, suggesting side streets near Austin Street as a possible place for one.

“Permanent open streets are a great idea, if implemented properly, and maintained regularly. We can take a look at one of the side streets between Austin Street and Queens Boulevard in the commercial corridor as a pilot,” he said.

And on how he’d respond to constituents who would fight back on projects because they don’t want to lose parking, Aronov said it doesn’t have to be so black and white, and that both can exist.

“It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can institute bike lanes that still have adjacent parking, as done on many streets in Manhattan,” he said.

Douglas Shapiro, did not respond to request for interview
Senior Principal, Advisory at Gartner
So far raised $23,293

Edwin Wong, did not respond to request for interview
Banker/commercial lender, Member of Community Board 6
So far raised $25,473

Avi Cyperstein, did not respond to request for interview
Small business owner, volunteer EMT
So far raised $49,619 

Sheryl Ann Fetik 
Member of the Queens County Democratic Committee
Did not meet the benchmark

District 30 — Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Woodside (Council Member Robert Holden, incumbent)

Streetsblog is not covering this race.

District 31 — Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens (Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers, won the special election)

Streetsblog covered this race before the special election in February.

District 32  — Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Rockaway Park, Roxbury, South Ozone Park, West Hamilton Beach, Woodhaven (Council Member Eric Ulrich, term-limited)

Number of reported crashes, January 2019 to date: 5,782, injuring 1 cyclist, 244 pedestrians (killing four) and 1,731 motorists (killing four).

Ulrich, who has not been a friend to street safety, most notably by voting against a bill to rein in reckless drivers, represents another so-called transit desert. Many rely on their cars, or a long commute to Manhattan or even other parts of Queens. Ulrich has not taken bold steps, or any, to improve traffic conditions in the district or make streets safer. Can whoever will replace him do better?

The candidates:

(From left): Kaled Alamarie, Mike Scala, Felicia Singh.
(From left): Kaled Alamarie, Mike Scala, Felicia Singh.

Michael Scala
Attorney, member of Queens County Committee, civic activist
So far raised $29,625 

Scala said that in order to get people out of cars, the district first needs more accessible transit.

“We definitely need to improve public transit options in the area, if we have to have less people driving,” he said. “There’s too much road capacity, it’s creating more traffic, but we’re not doing anything to get drivers out of cars — the bus routes we have are not adequate.”

But when asked about how he’d provide more accessible transit, like where he’d put bus lanes and busways, Scala said it’d depend on each street.

“I have to look at it on a case by case basis, there’s areas around the city where it’s appropriate,” he said.

Scala also said he fully supports the NYC ferry system and its current subsidies.

“The ferry has been a lifeline. We need to integrate it with mass transit, and be able to use the Metrocard to get on the ferry. It’s very important to the people of my district,” he said.

Felicia Singh
Vice-President of Our Neighbors Civic Association of Ozone Park
So far raised $40,942
Endorsed by StreetsPAC

Singh said her priorities are to improve mass-transit options, like building better bus service from the Rockaway peninsula to the mainland, and more reliable service on the A train.

“How can we do our best to have more express buses in this part of the district? Building train infrastructure takes time, it’s not a now solution. Busways help get our community members to locations faster,” she said.

Singh also wants to expand Citi Bike service into southern Queens (where it is not expected to exist for years under the current plan), but first would build out the needed protected bike infrastructure.

“We have some bike lanes that already exist, but they are not as protected as someone who might want to bike wants,” she said.

Singh supports the ferry system, and said it should be expanded to other parts of the district, but that it’s $2.75 heavily subsidized rides are still too expensive.

“The ferry system is very important, it allows community members to access Manhattan…but it’s not accessible to people on the west side of the peninsula,” she said. “It’s expensive. I’d love to see Fair Fares expand to the ferry.”

Kaled Alamarie
Works at NYC DEP
So far raised $40,813 

Alamarie, who said the district is a transportation desert and so he relies heavily on his car to get around, said there’s been very little done to actually improve its accessibility and efficiency.

“A lot of talk and no action,” he said.

To get people out of their cars, Alamarie says buses need to move fast.

“If I’m stuck in traffic and I see the bus moving faster, I will take the bus,” he said, endorsing a busway, but not before a feasibility study, on Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards.”

“I’d definitely consider it,” he said.

Helal Sheikh, did not respond to request for interview
Former math public school teacher, community advocate
So far raised $23,065

Kenichi Wilson 
Member of Woodhaven, Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corp, Chair of Community Board 9
Did not meet the benchmark

Bella Matias
Import Specialist at New York Customs Brokers Inc., Organizer, Administrator, Networker
Did not meet the benchmark