Candidate Japneet Singh runs for State Senate
Japneet Singh is looking to represent his vast, yet often disenfranchised community up in Albany.
The 28-year-old candidate has challenged incumbent State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., and candidate Albert Baldeo in the Democratic primary on August 23.
The winner will determine who will run in the November general election to represent the Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Forest Hills, Maspeth, and Richmond Hill communities.
Singh was raised in a Sikh household and brought up by immigrant parents from Punjab, India, who moved to the Richmond Hill community when he was just an infant. He spent his entire childhood in the area, where he attended the local public schools.
After graduating from John Adams High School, he went on to receive both a Bachelors in Accounting, Economics, Finance, and International Business and a Masters degree in Accounting from CUNY Queens College.
It was there that he discovered his passion for public service. An active participant in student government, Singh served as the vice-chairperson of senior college affairs with the CUNY University Student Senate, where he oversaw the interests of over 500,000 students.
Hoping to represent his community in a similar fashion, he is running for Senate on a campaign platform targeting key issues in the district, including public safety, education, government transparency, and housing.
Singh said that one key issue is the need for more community-based policing in the district. This past year, the community has witnessed five different hate crimes against Asian-Americans between the ages of 55 and 72.
“These are people my parents and grandparents’ age, who have seen the fear and devastation with their eyes. It’s emotional at that point,” Singh said, adding that the language barrier, confusion, and fear of deportation are some reasons why people in the Sikh community are afraid to call the cops.
It is his hope that by working with the community he can help build better relationships with the NYPD.
According to his campaign website, he also plans to work to amend bail reform, increase the minimum sentencing for hate crime offenders, implement background checks for weapons, fund rehabilitation for at-risk youth, and provide funding for a Sikh community watch and other community safety organizations.
Another key issue his campaign focuses on addressing is educational inequity in the district. Singh said that the construction at John Adams High School has been ongoing since 2012.
“It’s still going on. It has been 10 years. If you took that same school and put it in the Upper East Side or Williamsburg or Long Island City, it would’ve been done,” Singh told The Queens Ledger in an exclusive interview. “They spent $50 million building the library in Long Island City but they can’t spend $50,000 for kids? There’s no reason Astoria has electric car chargers, but we don’t even have trash cans.”
He said that the construction at M.S. 228 has been ongoing since he graduated in 2008. “And you know what’s so funny. It’s in my backyard. I have to look at it every single day,” he continued. “If it was Astoria it would’ve been done… There’s a real problem there.”
It was a lack of local educational infrastructure that motivated him to run for City Council against Speaker Adrienne Adams in 2021, according to Singh. He was particularly disappointed with how she had given South Jamaica schools nearly a million dollars in discretionary funding, compared to Richmond Hill, which was in the tens of thousands of dollars range.
Another critical proponent of his campaign is the need for government transparency. During his interview with The Queens Ledger, Singh touched on the $220 billion state budget, and its lack of investment in higher education.
“I think when a billion dollars is going to a stadium instead of coming to communities that need it, that’s a big problem,” Singh said. “I think the last time you had a tuition freeze for students was in 2018. Since then tuition is going back on the rise.”
He added that every year politicians tout the investments being made to fund public schools and how nobody is doing anything to see them through.
“Year after year these budgets are passing, yet every day people are doing less and less. There’s a problem. A systemic problem,” he said. “Take a look at who is doing what and I think we need to make sure that we keep all those elected officials accountable.”
Housing is another big focus of his campaign. While he is a staunch supporter of passing the Good Cause Eviction Act, he said that he also understands some of the nuances which need to be addressed as well.
“I think we need to look at it as well. There are some cases where, if they’re in good financial standing and are driving great cars and they’re still not being evicted, they’re just taking advantage of landlords,” Singh said. “Unfortunately I get a lot of calls from people complaining that they haven’t paid rent in a year, but they’re ordering take out every single day, they have nice cars. We need to reassess those. But in general, for the people who have a legitimate reason why they can’t pay rent, we definitely need to make sure we support them.”
Singh is also in support of reforming laws that increase the cost of building more housing, reducing property taxes on multifamily rental properties, and passing legislation to legalize basement apartments in the district.
“As a property owner, I was actually doing a lot of work with Hurricane victims, especially in Queens, where two people were lost due to illegal basements and couldn’t get out,” Singh replied. “I think there should be a push to make the illegalized basements legal and to help homeowners facilitate those costs as well. Sometimes they are asking for an arm and a leg and some people can afford that. But I also don’t encourage illegal basements that aren’t going to be supportive of their tenant either.”
He said that it needs to be a two-way street where the government works with homeowners, and where homeowners and tenants can feel confident trusting their elected officials will work for them.