On February 12th, 2020, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) held a nonpartisan candidate forum for the Queens Borough President special election, which will take place on March 24th. The forum took place at the New York Hall of Science in Corona and provided the opportunity for nearly 100 voters to hear from candidates about where they stand on important sustainability issues in Queens. Participating candidates included Costa Constantinides, Elizabeth Crowley, Anthony Miranda, and Donovan Richards.
Candidates spoke about the imminent threat of climate change, protecting Queens communities from the risk of flooding, the need for sustainable transportation options, and the importance of improving local air quality in Queens neighborhoods.
Costa Constantinides has represented Western Queens in the New York City Council since 2014. During the forum, he expressed the need to “break car culture” and pursue more sustainable methods of transportation, the importance of waste equity, environmental justice, and the expansion of green space in Queens. He also brought attention to the Renewable Rikers Act, legislation he recently introduced that would transform Rikers Island to be a renewable energy hub. He discussed using Rikers to process organic waste and moving a wastewater treatment plant there. Constantinides noted that his ideas for Rikers could lead to the creation of green jobs in the borough.
Elizabeth Crowley is a former Queens City Council member and served from 2009–2017. Crowley emphasized public transportation issues, including reducing rider fares and utilizing railways for public transportation. She also highlighted the devastation from Superstorm Sandy and the delayed response in recovery efforts. Crowley plans to prioritize green infrastructure projects to help protect Queens communities from future flooding events. She also proposed implementing a tax to address traffic congestion and air pollution near airports; funds generated could be invested back into the borough.
Anthony Miranda is a former law enforcement officer and long-time civil rights advocate. Throughout the forum, Miranda discussed several key issues, including the need for sustainability to be at the core of all city planning projects. He affirmed the importance of having a proper environmental impact assessment for the proposed LaGuardia AirTrain. Miranda echoed other candidates’ views about public transportation accessibility, and stressed the need for safer bike lanes.
Donovan Richards has served as a New York City Council member of Southeast Queens and the Rockaways since 2013. During the forum, Richards spoke about his involvement in rebuilding the areas of Queens affected by Superstorm Sandy. He also expressed the need for green infrastructure in areas of Queens that are most vulnerable to flooding. Richards spoke about his priority for improving conditions in environmental justice communities, including stopping the use of heating oil that creates air pollution and negative health outcomes. Additionally, Richards discussed his plans to increase education for green technology to get more people involved in the emerging green workforce.
The forum concluded with remarks from Melissa Zavala, a board member from the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, who co-hosted the event with NYLCVEF. Zavala highlighted the city’s current sustainability efforts and how ambitious programs are needed to achieve our goals. By electing a Queens Borough President who places the environment as a top priority, Queens can lead the charge in these efforts.
Thank you to our partners, Jackson Heights Beautification Group, Eastern Queens Alliance, Guardians of Flushing Bay, New Yorkers for Parks, Regional Plan Association, Waterfront Alliance, and Tri-State Transportation Campaign for helping to make the event a success!
A special thanks to the New York Hall of Science for hosting this event.
Don’t forget to vote in the special election for Queens Borough President on March 24th!