Climate change is not only here, it is personal to those of us who call District 37 home. We share a border with the East River and Newtown Creek, putting us at extreme risk of a 100-year flood. Hurricane Ida showed us that homes further inland are no less vulnerable to flooding. New York needs to lead—not only by expanding coastal residency measures that have mainly been prioritized for Lower Manhattan—but by accelerating its timeline to decarbonization.
Even facing the tall tasks ahead, there is hope: the typical New Yorker produces 66% less greenhouse gas emissions than the average American. So if we are to meet this challenge head-on, we have to build transit-oriented housing to allow more people to live a low-carbon lifestyle. We will have to change how we generate our power and heat our homes. We will have to change what we consume and how we dispose.
Change is hard. But the status quo—where the East drowns in water and the West burns to dust—is worse. I will advocate for policies that will give future generations a fighting chance at a liveable future.
Public transit is the backbone to New York’s economy. Car traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels but transit ridership is still down 40%. Buses are stuck in traffic. Weekend construction turns simple train rides into a puzzle. We demand nothing less than a safe and reliable public transit system that serves all New Yorkers 24/7.
As a born and raised Astorian, I will not tolerate thousands of cars and trucks who queue up on our streets to cross the Queensboro Bridge for free while working-class New Yorkers pay the price with our health and our safety. I will advocate for an expedited congestion pricing timeline to fully fund the MTA, reduce traffic and create a greener and more breathable city. At the same time, we must also take a deep look at extreme capital construction costs that threaten to block new subway construction or accessibility improvements.
While cycling has surged to new highs, so have traffic fatalities—now at an 8-year high. To transition to more sustainable transportation modes, I believe that streets must serve the people first. That’s why I will support a more design-first approach to our streets that prioritizes safety, low-carbon transit and new community spaces.
Housing is a human right—but we cannot guarantee housing that does not exist:
When COVID tore through New York in March 2020, Queens was the epicenter because our rent-burdened families live in the city’s most overcrowded neighborhoods. Nearly 100,000 public school students were homeless during the 2020 school year. Our neighbors are drowning in their basement homes because they lack safe, affordable, above-ground alternatives.
In the face of a housing crunch, we must have the courage to build more housing in order to address our concurrent climate and housing emergencies. I believe in housing abundance, which predicated on producing affordable housing in every city and every neighborhood.
Until more housing can be built, we must strengthen renter protections to prevent further displacement. We should streamline fully-affordable developments and experiment with new models of social housing. We must buttress NYCHA with iron-clad guarantees that public housing stays public. And we should support creative new initiatives such as the Western Queens Community Land Trust that aim to protect public space.
It is the Legislature’s job to provide oversight on the executive branch to ensure our State Government delivers on its promise of delivering services through technology. Does our elected Legislature have the expertise to carry out its responsibility? As an experienced Software Engineer who has built reliable, high performance web platforms that have served millions of users around the world, I know how websites work. I know exactly what questions to ask in order to apply pressure on our government to get our platforms working again.
We can also acknowledge that technology unleashes incredible scale but can’t solve all problems alone. For one, Internet is not universally accessible—40% of residents in Queensbridge and Astoria Houses lack broadband internet. Second, algorithms—unaccountable to the public—grow in influence on our day-to-day lives. We need elected politicians who deeply understand technology to ensure they serve and protect the public interest.
The pandemic brought into clear view the fact that our individual health is intrinsically linked to the health of our neighbors. We must invest in the greater wellbeing of the whole community.
That's why I will support the New York Health Act, which will provide all New Yorkers with single payer healthcare while also reducing overall healthcare expenditures. We need to invest into Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) which serve our most vulnerable communities. I will also support efforts to cap the cost of insulin to $30/month.
And if COVID is to become endemic to society, we should pass funding for free at-home testing programs for students, essential workers or other at-risk populations. We cannot wait for the next variant to arrive; we have to be prepared now.
I will support evidence-driven approaches to public safety, which is more than just policing. Research shows us that we can’t simply jail our way out of crime. We must also address its root causes: housing stability, addressing food insecurity and lack of mental health services. We should also increase funding to community organizations and violence prevention programs like 696 Build Queensbridge that are proven to be effective tools.
As a proud product of New York City public schools, I will fight to ensure are schools are fully-funded schools. To ease the burden on working parents, We should enact of universal childcare and afterschool policies. Our schools should have access to better social support services to serve most vulnerable kids. And in the context of a ever-changing pandemic, we should continue to reevaluate how we provide a safe and effective education for our children.
We should enact the New Deal for CUNY and pass tuition-free CUNY and SUNY, which are New York’s engines of economic opportunity. By the same token, we should support adjunct faculty by ensuring they are paid a living wage.
The pandemic has forever changed how we approach work. Through relentless organizing, we’ve seen unions such as Los Deliveritas Unidos and Taxi Workers Alliance win concessions against the excesses of capitalism. And as a child who grew up in a union family, I will protect the right to organize regardless of employment status.
We must continue to ensure employers provide safe, dignified employment that offer all New Yorkers a living wage. We can end non-compete clauses in New York and publish salary ranges to empower our workers with more options and information. We must pass the NY Health Act, which will break the chain between employment and healthcare and provide gig workers and freelancers with health benefits they deserve.
Pandemic has given New Yorkers a fundamentally new understanding to open space. Open Streets have given our communities new “third spaces” to enjoy. The Open Restaurants program saved thousands of jobs.
I grew up frequenting local East River parks at Gantry and Queensbridge, but I consider myself lucky. In our district of AD 37, 30% of residents do not live within walking distance to a park, compared to only 6% of residents in nearby Greenpoint. Western Queens lacks trees too: Community Board 2 only has 8.5% urban tree canopy coverage, compared to 21% citywide.
I believe in park and tree equity. That’s why I will fight to bring green spaces to the District that everyone can enjoy. We can take inspiration from 34th Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue Open Streets to creatively adapt our streets so that they fit people of all ages. We should convert pavement into parks