Encompassing parts of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Rego Park, Woodside and Corona, the district represents large Latino, African-American and South Asian communities, not to mention a variety of other, smaller ethnic enclaves.
Each group has different needs, though of course many overlap (affordable housing, safe streets, economic opportunities and improved schools, are some).
It takes a special elected official to serve such a broad constituency, someone with a wide range of professional experience and personal compassion.
Daniel Dromm is that rare, one-of-a-kind politician, and so this paper is endorsing his bid for City Council.
Dromm is running against Councilwoman Helen Sears and Stanley Kalathara.
Endorsing a challenger over an incumbent means something.
It means, in this case, that Dromm already has in place the political relationships, skills, and far-reaching vision to take over where Sears has left off, without missing a beat, and actually improve upon her record.
Dromm is no novice to city politics or community organizing. He is the reigning Democratic District Leader in the 39th Assembly District, a position he was elected to in 2002. He has since won re-election three times.
He is a member of several community organizations, and an award-winning public school teacher. Dromm, who is gay, founded the Queens LGBT Pride Parade and Festival 15 years ago and runs it proudly to this day.
His long career in the community has won him many friends; Dromm’s name, especially in Jackson Heights, where he is most recognized as an effective community advocate, carries weight. Dromm’s inch-by-inch knowledge of the district rivals, if not surpasses, that of Sears. He speaks excellent Spanish, a certain job requirement of City Council members in years to come.
Simply put, he understands the district’s most pressing issues - from over-crowded schools to the abundance of crime along Roosevelt Avenue - and in each case has a fairly specific plan of action.
In comparison, Sears, who is seeking a third term, appears slightly out of touch with her constituency. To be sure, she has done some good work, in health care especially. But after eight years in office, she has begun making mistakes that Dromm would avoid.
For example, Sears recently proposed creating a “vendor-free zone” in the district to cut down on street vendors, who she said are eating into the profits of struggling, storefront small businesses.
That claim is in dispute, in what has become a hot-button issue of late. Regardless, Sears’ blanket, one-size-fits-all approach to the issue betrayed a thoughtlessness, or at the least an inattention to detail, that could prove dangerous in a third term in office.
On this and other issues Dromm - who supports regulating street vendors but not eliminating them entirely - takes a more nuanced view, which is essential in a district with myriad competing interests. (Of the three, Kalathara had the best, most comprehensive ideas on tackling street vendor problems).
Which isn't necessarily to say that Sears should disappear from public service. Her obvious interest in promoting the arts, not only in her district but throughout the city, would serve her well as the driving force behind a nonprofit or other community organization, as would her strong background in health care.
However, if elected, Dromm would bring the exact combination of new ideas, credibility and experience the district needs.
Improving the quality of life, the living standards and overall well-being of residents in the 25th District is a major undertaking. Dromm is up for the challenge.