By David Brand
A little over eight years ago, the ex-prosecutor who represents Astoria on the city council drafted a statement to defend the controversial police strategy, then mess up New York and shape its political future.
“Stop and Frisk Works” was the headline.
“I worked closely with the Commissioner [Ray] Kelly, to make our town safer, to fight for more cops and to defend the stop, ask and search – this is the only way to get the gun before the toddler playing in the sprinkler can be shot in a drive by Councilor Peter Vallone Jr. wrote on the Queens Chronicle in 2013, the final year of his three-year tenure.
Yes, not so long ago the councilor from Astoria – the epicenter of modern New York politics – left the neighborhood elected last year An organizer of America’s Democratic Socialists in the State Assembly – wanted more cops and more stops.
It’s safe to say that the political landscape in West Queens has changed as demographics change, left-wing political stars emerge, and progressive organizers continue to drive the polls and land milestone wins.
“I see this as a natural evolution, triggered by electoral engagement rather than career leaders making all decisions without significant community engagement,” said Andy Aujla, attorney, former president of a Democratic club in Astoria and executive secretary of Queens Community Board 1. “Astoria serves as a beacon for the necessary nationwide move away from overpolicing … towards a community-based model of violence prevention.”
The next phase of Astoria’s political development is due in June, with public safety becoming a central theme of the campaign.
Six candidates are running in the Democratic Elementary School for Queens Council District 22, one seat recently vacated by Vallone’s successor, Costa Constantinides, a progressive Democrat and former chairman of the Council’s Environment Committee.
Five of the candidates say You want to cut funding to the NYPD and reimagine policing in New York.
Tiffany Cabán, the candidate for the most name recognition and high profile endorsementshas developed a set of guidelines that describe how New York City can eliminate the NYPD and prisons and reinvest in social services, especially low-income color communities.
“At its core, it’s about equipping people with the things they need to be healthier, more complete, and safer people,” said Cabán. “If you police every problem, that’s what lives in my district: Rikers Island, and it does nothing to create and stabilize more security in our communities.”
Cabán, a former defense attorney, made a name for herself during her time radical reform campaign She was 60 votes ahead of winning the Democratic primary (she lost to Melinda Katz, who also defeated Vallone in 2013 for President of Queens. So Cabán and Vallone have at least something in common). She leads the fundraising with more than $ 92,000 in private contributions and an additional $ 160,000 in public matching funds.
Another top candidate, Evie Hantzopolous, chair of Community Board 1 Housing, said she spoke out against last year’s city budget because the city council “did not sensibly defuse the NYPD.” Hantzopolous has raised more than $ 51,500 and received over $ 160,000 in matching funds.