Jamaica residents call out mayoral candidates
by Andrew Pavia
Aug 21, 2013 | 702 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Councilman Ruben Wills unveils his “What about us?” campaign to keep mayoral candidates focused on southeast Queens.
Councilman Ruben Wills unveils his “What about us?” campaign to keep mayoral candidates focused on southeast Queens.
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Nicole Paultre-Bell speaks about the need for mayoral candidates to address issues in southeast Queens.
Nicole Paultre-Bell speaks about the need for mayoral candidates to address issues in southeast Queens.
slideshow
Councilman Ruben Wills and the residents of southeast Queens have a question for the mayoral candidates: What about us?

That is the question now plastered on a billboard throughout Jamaica highlighting issues in the community such as stop and frisk, flooding, education and job development.

Wills unveiled a sign on Monday at the corner of Liberty Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard. Wills also announced the formation of the What About Us Committee, which will work to bring the issues to the forefront of the campaign for mayor.

“What we want to do is make sure that candidates understand that programs need to be brought here, that the young people need to be engaged and not just talk back,” said Wills. “They need to understand that we are taxpayers and there are people here who are concerned about how they are being treated.”

The committee is calling on the mayoral candidates to ditch the structured debates and instead tour barber shops, hair salons and have dinner in people’s homes to truly get an understanding of what is going on in the community.

“It’s all nice and good that you went to NYCHA and spent the night,” said Wills. “but the fact is that there are hundreds of other apartments of people still living in that mold.”

“We’re asking those who get in office, don’t forget about us,” said Pastor Larry Davidson. “Our concerns are social and economic and should not be taking a back seat.”

Nicole Paultre Bell, the fiance of Sean Bell, who was killed in a hail of police gunfire in 2006, attended the unveiling of the sign.

“We have gotten the short end of the stick,” she said. “Instead of real solutions like academic programing and arts and culture, we are left with the result of co-location that was forced onto us and overcrowded classrooms with no community participation.

“If you want to be the mayor, what are your solutions?” Bell asked.

Two mayoral forums have taken place in Jamaica, but Speaker Christine Quinn did not attend either.

“I think it’s every candidates responsibility to be here,” said Bell. “We’d like to hear from everybody.”

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