Jan. 6, 2020 By Allie Griffin
The Queens Borough President race is in full swing and five candidates have confirmed that they will be in Sunnyside later this month for a forum.
Council Members Costa Constantinides, Donovan Richards and Jimmy Van Bramer — along with former Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and police reform advocate Anthony Miranda — will take the stage at Sunnyside Community Services on Tuesday Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m.
The forum, sponsored and co-moderated by the Sunnyside Post and Sunnyside Community Services, will offer Queens residents a chance to learn more about the candidates before casting their vote in the special election on March 24.
The five candidates are vying for the seat vacated by Melinda Katz, who became the Queens District Attorney on Jan. 1. Additional candidates may be added as they publicly announce their run.
Constantinides, who has been a council member since 2014, was born and raised in Astoria — which he still calls home — and is best known for his zeal in combating climate change. He has been the Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection for the past four years.
During his tenure representing Astoria, Constantinides has committed to create 500 affordable units for seniors in his district by 2021 and crafted the eight-bill Climate Mobilization Act, which requires landlords to make their large buildings energy efficient, promotes renewable energy within the city and begins the process of closing the dirtiest power plants.
His campaign issues include improving public housing, protecting workers rights, making sustainability part of schools’ curriculums, protecting the borough from climate change and storms, increasing accessibility and protecting immigrant communities.
Former Council Member Crowley is the only woman running for the seat.
Born and raised in Elmhurst, Crowley was elected to the City Council in 2008, becoming the first woman and first Democrat to represent the 30th District, where she currently lives in Glendale. She narrowly lost the seat to Robert Holden in 2017.
A single mom and union worker, Crowley fought for equal pay and equal opportunity for women in the workplace and successfully led the fight to restore millions of dollars of women’s healthcare service after the mayor sought budget cuts. She later co-founded an advocacy group to help women get elected to local office.
Crowley served as Chair of the Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee, where she led a citywide effort to save firehouses and improve the city’s 911 call-taking system and she was one of the first politicians to call for the closure of Rikers.
Richards, a lifelong Queens resident who has represented Southeast Queens in the City Council since 2013, was first inspired to begin a career in politics when he was 18 years old, after his childhood friend was shot and killed. Since then, he has worked to end gun violence and is currently the Chair of the Committee on Public Safety.
Richards has lived in Jamaica, St. Albans, Hollis and Rosedale. During his tenure in City Council, he fought for rezoning and funding for flood protection of the Rockaways following Superstorm Sandy.
His campaign issues include criminal justice reform, job creation and affordable housing, protecting immigrant rights and fixing public transportation.
Jimmy Van Bramer
Van Bramer was the first to announce his bid for the BP seat and is a lifelong borough resident, raised in Astoria by two union members. Before being elected to the council in 2009, he worked for the Queens Public Library and served on Community Board 2.
He entered politics in the 1990s as an organizer for campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of special interest groups.
Van Bramer, who is term limited like Constantinides and Richards, currently serves as Deputy Leader of the City Council and Chair of the Council’s Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations Committee, where he has fought to secure over $1 billion for the city’s libraries and the arts during his tenure.
His campaign issues include fighting for better transit service, expanding affordable housing, getting big money out of politics and protecting immigrant communities.
The Sunnyside forum is free to attend and community members can submit questions for the candidates by emailing them to [email protected] Selected questions will be asked at the forum at Sunnyside Community Services, located at 43-31 39th St.
To register for the free forum, click here.