The Coronavirus pandemic was extremely detrimental to Black, Hispanic, and Asian communities in the City of New York but in particular here in Queens. Because of systematic poverty Black, Hispanic, and Asian demographics here in Queens we were hard hit. Two of the main reasons this happened was because of the lack of health care and economic opportunities. In order to reduce poverty in Black, Latino and Asian communities we need to have a systematic improvement in education, health care, and job opportunities. For education, I will focus on making sure we have more after school and tutoring programs especially in poorer districts that will also include students who are learning remotely every day throughout the whole borough. We need to have a financial investment in the economies of tomorrow whether it be gaming, health care, green education, law, and STEM programs. We need to also make a financial commitment to increase the number of hospital beds in all of Queens. Nearly 10 years ago we saw a drastic reduction of hospital beds within Queens. More hospital beds also mean we can treat more patients in the wake of a possible future pandemic but also provide more educational opportunities for new colleges that can provide health care education and also preventative health care for Queens’ residents. The Queens Borough President’s office has been steadfast in doing plenty of job forums. Through the pandemic job forums have done incredible marketing to educate Queens’ residents on job opportunities. However, we can do more. We need to provide grant opportunities for all of Queens for startup business capital in social entrepreneurship. In particular, in communities of color where immigration and systematic racism has created a barrier, we can focus on opportunities in business development and business education in those communities through nonprofits and well-targeted and well-funded programs.
For the past 40 years, immigrants have revamped New York City by increasing the population, creating small businesses, and moving into neighborhoods that were desolate. Due to Covid-19, these groups of people have been putting themselves at great risk in the type of jobs they have. Economically they now suffer greatly because many have lost their jobs and quite a few of them are undocumented so any stimulus created by the government has not been given to them. All this loss has created among other things food insecurity.
Food pantries are a growing necessity within Queens. The Coronavirus pandemic highlighted the intense need for food in our communities. Every week we see long lines, especially in my community in Jackson Heights and Corona, where thousands of people still need food. This is the case in all of Queens County. We need to continue to make sure families are well fed throughout the Coronavirus pandemic and way beyond. I’m committed to making sure that I fund food pantries indefinitely throughout my time as Queens Borough President and am thoroughly committed to the fight against food insecurity.
As the only Latina running for Queens Borough President, this is an important topic for me. For starters, there needs to be a strong emphasis and public support from the Queens Borough President’s office to engage domestic violence victims and their families. I plan to create an RFP process for participating non-profits to create programs throughout Queens specifically addressing domestic abuse and how to help them. I will partner with Queens Economic Development organizations and Chambers of Commerce to have women-centered forums as well as engage venture capitalists to fund companies specifically run by women in Queens County in the form of grants for start-ups and companies currently owned by women. I will create universal basic income grants for single mothers who are living in shelters so they are able to leave and get affordable housing for themselves and their families. I will also create more job training initiatives for women. Queens has an unacceptable influx of human trafficking within its immigrant communities. The rights of these women are being violated every day under our noses and it must be stopped. I will provide a form of engagement to work with social services organizations to connect with these women who are on the streets soliciting and being human trafficked to provide them a safe haven away from their John’s.
According to the Census Bureau 13% of women (295k out of 2.27M people) in the ages of 25 to 34 are living below the poverty line in this county and I will work closely with this group. Although it hasn’t been mentioned yet there are a few situations that can be the cause of these statistics: lack of skills/higher education, not having child care, not receiving adequate child support and/or not having a well-paying job. Having affordable housing will be a relief of the future but we are dealing with the now or short-term solutions. Being able to go to college is important because many jobs are requiring a four-year degree more and more but this will not happen overnight. What we are left with is teaching these women new skills that will help them get a better job; we will work closely with job skills associations that will offer different types of training for free: from how to use different software to how to paint an apartment. If a woman is having child care issues we will partner up with associations that offer free afterschool programs and properly fund them so that they are not limited to how many children they can receive. The situation with child support is that the minimum threshold of $200/month is not acceptable, the minimum has to be revamped to $500/month because the cost of living has gotten higher as the years have gone by. We have to revamp salaries to make sure a woman receives equal pay like her male counterparts in all jobs. I will offer UBI of $1000 regardless of immigration status in this country because only if you have a social security number will anyone receive a stimulus.
Roughly 82% of the time a woman is awarded custody of children. In many of those cases when they cannot afford an attorney they are represented by legal aid which only deal with these matters. When women have issues with child support they have to fend for themselves; once I’m in office that is going to change.
The role that the Queens Borough President’s office has had with women’s rights has been abysmal to non-existent. We can do better by creating a task force that connects to women and improve the overall outcomes of their lives, by doing so we improve the lives of all of Queens.
The Queens Borough President’s office will fund majorly to LGBTQIA+ centers across Queens; these centers can be through existing nonprofits that provide safe havens and places of communication for the LGBTQIA+ communities. These centers will offer counseling services to those who need them (transgender, mental health and/or education). It’s interesting to note (according to the ACLU) New York State is NOT one of the 12 states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin) that has laws against discrimination towards the LGBTQIA+ community. As your Borough President I will research through these established laws to make sure we in Queens County adopt our own anti-discrimination laws so our LGBTQIA+ do not continue to suffer from situations in housing, jobs, inheriting personal/real estate property, making decisions of critical medical importance, etc.
While ICE as it is colloquially known as is still using the word “alien” anywhere in their literature and/or website there needs to be sensibility training given to be able to work with any immigrant that is walking through our streets documented or otherwise. What also has to change is how ICE has loopholes they can go through when they are going to arrest people in what they call “sensitive locations”.
According to ICE locations treated as sensitive under their policy includes, but are not be limited to:
Many of these undocumented people have minor children and being the only ones in charge of their care do not have extended family living with them. It will be detrimental to those children if the parents are not there for them.
Our residents should be allowed to go through our streets without being afraid of one day not going home to their families while they go to work, attending important appointments, places of worship, taking their children to school, going to court, etc. These undocumented people should not ever have to call their families, afraid of being picked up at the train station while they are on their way home from work, to say goodbye.
As Borough President, I will not allow any of this in my streets!!!
We also have many people in New York who prey on the immigrant community. You have people pretending to be lawyers and create false documents to aid citizenship for immigrants while just their hard-earned money. There is a lot of fear from the immigrant community. People are afraid that if they complain publicly about being scammed that they could go to jail or be deported. We need a host of forums in Queens to start the conversation about educating our immigrant community through Queens Borough Hall as soon as possible. We live in the most diverse county in New York City but host of very few immigration forums. As Queens Borough President I will host a myriad of immigration forums throughout all corners of Queens. In the wake of Trump’s harshest immigration policies we have undocumented people living in the shadows. Not only will I work with the city council and lobby for municipal voting but I also will fight to offer as many immigration citizenship programs as possible to educate these immigrant communities of their rights so they stop living in fear. Racial justice is a comprehensive vision that should include a host of solutions from education, immigration, housing, higher education, and job development. I’m looking forward to being at the forefront of making the necessary improvements to our community as the next Queens Borough President. I’m running for Queens Borough President to not only be at the forefront of issues in Queens but also lead a movement for the most important issues of our time period even though immigration is a federal issue as Queens Borough President of a county of more than 2 million people I can lead a movement of people who support immigration reform and can start a trend of people within the city who support comprehensive immigration reform.
Work with land use so that new development be no less 60/40 market rate vs affordable. In Queens finding a landlord who receives rental vouchers is practically impossible; I will create incentives and guidelines for landlords to receive vouchers every time a tenant offers one. Create a universal basic income model for single mothers (regardless of immigration status) living below the poverty line, with school-aged children to receive $1000 from Queens Borough Hall. This has the opportunity to prevent homelessness in some of our most vulnerable populations. IdNYC is the best thing especially for those who live in shelters, what has to change is the cost attached to it when it’s lost and the distance one has to travel to get a replacement. These cards should always be free and instead of going to limited places to receive one you should be able to go to the Human Resource Administration Service Centers to apply for the cards and to get free replacements.
Businesses are struggling right now, as your Queens Borough President I will create emergency mentorship programs that will work closely with the Queens Economic Development office, the local Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the SBA, and other organizations in order help to strengthen businesses so they don’t go under. Also will work alongside nonprofits to create grants to fund businesses that are in critical situations so they can continue operating.
It’s not easy to start a business anywhere and New York is no exception. In New York you need a massive amount of capital to start up any corporation. When I am in Queens Borough Hall I will create a business start-up development center that will focus on new businesses that will engage social entrepreneurship and have opportunities to receive grants from the Queens Borough President’s office. There will be mentorship programs in order to make sure the companies can keep their doors open for more than two years.
Immediate Attention and Investment
During the beginning of Covid-19, our students and teachers were sent into a whirlwind because both groups were only given about a week’s time to learn how to maneuver online teaching or learning respectively. The Board of Education was able to send IPads to many households (some children still need and should finally be given one). Those who received IPads in many cases still can’t use them because they were not configured correctly so they don’t work regardless if they need to connect to the Wi-Fi or on their own to the internet. The only way this can be corrected is if we work alongside the public schools to have technicians on specific days to receive them, correct them, and then return them in a week’s time. The other problem that has developed is that there are not enough companies that offer internet services. Of the five or so companies out there only Spectrum offers the internet service by itself but at a high cost which they don’t mention until later while they have a cost-efficient program for families with limited financial resources. The Borough President’s office will work with Spectrum and other companies closely to make sure the costs they charge are within the reach of our communities at large. To address the issue with the Wi-Fi in Southeast Queens and the shelters, we will make sure they go right away to the problem areas and fix the service so everyone will be sure to have the education they deserve.
In regular times, Queens is the home of some of the best public school education programs in the city but we can do better. We need more middle schools, and regular and specialized high schools, also be able to fund after-school programs throughout the borough that will enhance math, science, music, art, and second language skills. We will go to each neighborhood and review the state of each library to make sure it’s a state-of-the-art institution offering the best there is for anyone wanting to spend a couple of hours there.
Queens is the home of some of the best schools pre-K through 12 but not only do we need more seats in pre-K through 12 but we also need more seats in postsecondary education. We need more colleges. Those colleges could be in the form of annexes from City University from one corner of Queens to the next. They can also come from creating new Black colleges in areas like Southeast Queens.
Coming out of the gate I understand that this is a transformational campaign, I need to have the most diverse campaign that can reach people in the most diverse county in New York. My campaign material will be accessible in many languages including Spanish, Bangla, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Russian, and others in order to make sure we can have a broad appeal to constituents throughout the county and make sure we are connecting with all of the prime stakeholders of Queens. Our diversity is our strength. Ensuring we have the most language accessible campaign is critical to meeting our overall outreach goals in addition to making sure people understand that when I win this campaign the Queens Borough President’s office will be open to all people and not just accessible to the rich and powerful or county elites. Currently, Queens County does not do enough to ensure all corners of the city get full access to information in a variety of languages. The current and prior Queens Borough President have not used technology to engage Queens. We can have specific zoom forums in specific languages. Those forums could be about immigration, housing, education, higher education, job development, etc. There’s is a lot going on in the Queens Borough President’s office and we want everyone well informed. Also designating specific public schools to have a dual-language program in the “mother tongue” depending on demographics of the student body which will be funded by the NYC Board of Education and then having the program extended to middle schools and high schools.
It’s important for every single community in New York City to understand that Black lives matter. There’s an important role that the Queens Borough President’s office needs to have in implementing strategies that understand how to prevent the next murder of unarmed people of color by the hands of law enforcement. Even though the Queens Borough President’s office doesn’t have direct connection to initiate changes in law enforcement policies I will work with community activists and organizations to provide community to precinct conversations to include community outreach to be a part of the onboarding process of new recruits to districts and communities within Queens. This way new recruits will understand the communities which they will serve as law enforcement. I support the Defunding of the NYPD that can lead to funding to be reallocated to Social Policing which will be social work professionals who will be recruited and trained as 1st responders to mental health emergencies. Currently the NYPD and EMT’s is not well equipped to be 1st responders.
Racial Justice is needed in Queens. We see the inequities in our schools, criminal justice, housing, higher education, businesses, immigration, environment, job opportunities, wifi services, and many others. It’s incumbent upon us as community leaders to highlight these inequities and create systemic policies there can provide change. I have a plan to increase the number of elementary, junior high schools, high schools, and colleges in every corner of Queens by the end of my terms in 2030. This includes including a historically black college in Southeast Queens, making sure CUNY colleges can create annexes in different corners of underserved parts of Queens like Corona, Jackson Heights, the Rockaways, the South Ozone Park/Richmond Hill area and Ridgewood lack higher education institutions. CUNY has a host of colleges that could create certificate and degreed programs in underserved areas of Queens. I will work to create a higher education commission within Queens Borough Hall to identify the colleges and programs and locations that will best fit. Within each higher education annex and institution, we can also build secondary and potentially middle schools in the facility or in the area. If we were able to increase the amount of junior high school, high school, and college seats by the thousands that will make sure we can reduce the amount of pupils per class in Queens while also creating new educational opportunities which will, in turn, provide an important part of racial justice that will improve the quality of life in all of these particular communities of color. Being Queens Borough President means that I will have a significant say on how land is used on rezonings and developments. New developments especially dealing with the ULURP process, will be drastically improved and enhanced by putting people first and community land trust will be in all corners of Queens.
Much of Queens is in a transportation desert which means long travel times and very expensive. A way to reduce transportation deserts is to develop an app that will be cheaper than Uber and Lyft to take people from their home into nearby train stations because it will hire drivers that live in those communities. This RFP process will go through the Queens Borough President’s office to provide Queens’ residents lower rates.
In the last 10 years, many of our elected officials stood by and watched thousands of hospital beds get reduced in Queens County. Now that we have the Coronavirus pandemic we see those same officials wanting to run for higher office without being fully accountable for standing by and doing nothing while those thousands of hospital beds were reduced in Queens County. We need to not only hold them accountable but also work to reduce that trend. Increasing the number of hospital beds in Queens County will require a smart and thorough acknowledgment of where we are right now and our economy. We could increase hospital beds by looking at higher education. If we worked to have more hospital beds around our colleges we could employ more faculty, teach more students about medical education, and provide more hospital beds in teaching hospitals throughout Queens without establishing an extremely high cost to provide thorough health care to constituents. Colleges like York College and Queens College could provide locations for new hospitals and new educational programs for college students that would in many cases pay for themselves. Revenue generated from teaching college students and receiving patients will pay for having new hospital beds in those locations. If we work to create annexes for those colleges in places like Far Rockaway, Corona, and Jackson Heights we will be able to improve health care accessibility for the neediest districts while also providing critical medical education and offering faculty jobs to hundreds of people. The infrastructure for improving job opportunities quality of life and health care are already in Queens. We just have a lack of vision and accountability. That needs to change and that’s why I’m running for Queens Borough President.
Climate change is one of the most essential aspects public officials need to address. Public officials have failed to create a comprehensive vision that will protect our families and that’s really scary to me. As Queens Borough President I will create a real vision of what Queens could look like if we had intensive coastal flooding and create systematic investments to protect our county from being inundated by coastal floods while enhancing our food structures. Coastal flooding our problems. Whether we’re looking at the Rockaways, Long Island City or other parts of Queens that were hit hard when Super Storm Sandy hit. We need to completely re-envision our infrastructure. One of those ways is providing a coastal sponge. Coastal sponges can be able to reduce the impact of water by absorbing water within large areas and pulling that water back out at sea without damaging homes and property along coastlines. In addition to coastal sponges, we can continue programs that raise the levels of homes in coastal areas. Rikers Island should become a green energy space, it is large enough to provide a location where wind and solar energy could be absorbed and provide an energy grid for Queens County. It’s important to acknowledge the necessity of energy especially in the wake of power lines going down or occasional blackouts during harsh winter months. Companies like Con Edison still have a monopoly on our energy grid but at this point where we can get our energy from wind and solar companies, they aren’t really necessary anymore. In addition to the understanding that fossil fuels are no longer necessary to power vehicles, we must also acknowledge that we can run our homes on renewal bowls as well as our cars. A green energy power grid on Rikers Island gets us closer to that reality and in many cases and never debility. It’s inevitable that we will get our power from renewable zit but it takes the will of public officials in order to make that possible. I pledge as Queens Borough President I will make this one of my top priorities to make sure that we can create a system of renewable energy throughout Queens County. Lastly, food insecurity is abysmal throughout all of Queens County. As a resident of Jackson Heights and Corona, I see food pantry lines that are a quarter of a mile long every week. I also see the reluctance of public dollars going into having more than just a handful of food pantries in our area. The Coronavirus pandemic has shown the true face of poverty in Queens County and it looks like me. It sounds like me. And almost no one is doing anything about it. Hundreds of people in my area some of whom were friends who died during the Coronavirus there was no acknowledgment of the struggles they had gone through as immigrants or non-citizens who were the backbones of their family is. They struggled to make ends meet and died in a harsh pandemic. Now their families have no income and are suffering from food insecurity. We need to invest not only in creating a sustainable food model that could employ many of the residents in our area or are currently not employed by creating green job education programs that will ensure they get jobs but also create an infrastructure of sustainability. This will include the creation of a green roofing initiative that will grow fruits and vegetables on the rooftops of all public housing in Queens County. This will also ensure vertical farms in every corner of Queens County. This will also ensure that programs be offered from every school from K12 and throughout colleges in Queens County that will offer green education and provide a systemic infrastructure needed for the future of our economy. A green equal system is needed in Queens County that is holistic and engages the majority of our citizenry from our young people to our elderly that can intelligently impact all aspects of our lives. The impact of a green infrastructure will help families from the youngest among us to our elderly by providing a systemic future. Families will pay less for food and vegetables. Small businesses and grocery stores will pay less for local produce. In the wake of a potential future pandemic, food insecurity will be less problematic than it has been during the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020. As the next Queens Borough President, we not only have the make sure that the future is preserved but families living under current conditions can thrive and not just survive.
It’s an important time in Queens and our city. The investment of revenue and budget is critical to the future of the city. When you build revenue you have to focus on the community first. We can create new revenue by creating new colleges, new schools, new sustainable infrastructure, like vertical farms, green rooftops, improve overall tech education, and green jobs in Queens. No cuts to city services are needed. No tax lien sales are needed. We can be able to grow ourselves out of a fiscal hole. The city is in a 4 billion dollar fiscal hole. However, in strong fiscal years, the city could make more than 5 billion dollars of overall revenue. I plan to partner with my city council colleague in district 26 in creating a sustainable space for parkland, affordable housing, and tech jobs in LIC over the rail yards. This new area could host a myriad of development that would engage the community land trust in the area but also provide revenue the area has never seen. We could create an enclosed space that could provide public usage for park space, concerts, sports, family events, and new affordable housing. My plan is to submit a proposal to the new mayor and in partnership with the new city council member and the community land trust and community board work to create a new vision of development and revenue infrastructure for Queens County and for the entire city that focuses on affordable housing sustainable living and green development and technology to showcase how an area can fully engage community partners while creating sustainable revenue for the city and local economy. This is just one development. This can be the model of how other parts of queens can be ultimately engaged. Southeast Queens has an abundance of parkland. It will be great to see this parkland be enhanced to not only offer new affordable housing space but also provide new accessible park experiences while creating new Tech and green education and jobs in the area while also creating a new Black college that could revitalize the area and offer thousands of new job opportunities. There will be no reason to travel to Manhattan for jobs where we can make millions of dollars and have tons of jobs in Queens County. Imagine any economy where we can actually get people jobs that’s going to make people safer and healthier? I planned to commit millions of dollars for free after school technology education for every school in queens. We can create an economic engine in the next 10 years that can thoroughly train young people in the future technologies like gaming. We can teach the next generation of gamers and technology in our Queens schools. It’s just about investment and creativity. I’ll create a task force specifically on education technology that will engage entrepreneurs and nonprofits in the technology space like girls who code and Khan Academy and make them a part of a consultation to create a curriculum that will be able to be in all of our schools in Queens and educate the next generation of technology and gaming that will Be the heart of economic development in queens and highlight a smart transformation between the lack of technology and urban agriculture in Queens and most urban environments. We can be the model that works.