Lee Zeldin visits Glendale, gubernatorial candidate hones in on tough-on-crime approach

By Jessica Meditz

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Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin (at mic) was met with support from local business owners, including Karamjit Dhaliwal (to his left) and leaders Councilman Robert Holden (to his right) and Mike Conigliaro, who hopes to win AD28 (left of Dhaliwal).

Following last Tuesday night’s heated gubernatorial debate, Republican candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island took to the streets of Glendale to further discuss top issues residents face both locally and statewide.

The press conference was held at the Mobil gas station located at 71-05 Myrtle Avenue, across from Glendale Diner — where Zeldin was met with support from local residents, business owners and elected officials, as well as concerns about the current state of the city.

Honing in on his tough-on-crime campaign approach, Zeldin reflected on the debate held the night before, where he reiterated that he would declare a crime emergency and suspend cashless bail if elected.

He accused Gov. Kathy Hochul of disregarding the surge in crime in New York, and not discussing “locking up anyone committing any crimes” during the debate.

Zeldin interpreted Hochul’s response of, “Anyone who commits a crime under our laws, especially with the change we made to bail, has consequences. I don’t know why that’s so important to you,” as a deflection and indication that she does not communicate with communities affected by crime.

She doesn’t understand why it’s so important to me? That proves that she isn’t in touch with the people. It proves that she does not represent the people, because it should be first and foremost in her mind,” he said at the press conference.

“If she wants to represent New Yorkers, if she cares about New Yorkers, she would have her finger on the pulse and she wouldn’t have to make that point. She wouldn’t even be thinking it in her head, let alone actually saying it out loud.”

Bryan Lesswing, Hochul’s senior adviser, told the Queens Ledger that the comment in question was made in response to Zeldin’s accusation that she had not previously mentioned anything about crime in the debate, which she did on five separate occasions.

He said her response meant that she wasn’t sure why it was “so important” to him that she reiterate the point a sixth time.

“It’s no surprise that Lee Zeldin and his far-right allies are manipulating and lying about Governor Hochul’s comments, Zeldin himself has no serious plans to tackle crime and instead wants to bring more guns into our communities,” Hochul’s campaign spokesperson, Jerrel Harvey, said in a statement.

Karamjit Dhaliwal, who owns the gas station and the shops located on the property where the press conference was held, expressed his fears about increased crime that affects his business and employees.

Dhaliwal expressed his support of Zeldin for governor, and opened up about how his establishment is affected by increased crimw.

He said that while he’s a Democrat himself, he feels the need to cross party lines for this election.

We have a big problem with the crimes. We are getting robbed every week…They’re coming to steal stuff from our gas station, beating my employees, robbing at nighttime, jumping behind the counters, and it’s a danger,” Dhaliwal said.

He argued that bail reform should be repealed and that the NYPD does hard work, but their “hands are tied.”

During the press conference, an unknown individual who was getting gas started a verbal altercation with two of the gas station’s employees, shouting obscenities.

The individual had their car radio set to a high volume while the event was in progress, when the employees asked them to turn it down.

In fear it would get violent, the two Guardian Angels in attendance approached the situation.

The reality of this moment, while we’re here for a press conference, this is with security here, this is with cameras here, this is with a whole lot of people here…You see how people are emboldened to challenge employees of this gas station, ready for physical confrontation right here,” Zeldin said.

“Three weeks ago, one of [Dhaliwal’s] employees was assaulted right here where we’re having this press conference. You almost witnessed something play out right here in front of all the cameras just now, despite security, despite all of us and despite all of you.”

Zeldin holds firm to his beliefs that members of law enforcement should be supported, that judges should have discretion and that he would remove Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg from office on his first day if elected, accusing him of failing to enforce the law.

Although the state’s constitution provides a mechanism for removing certain public officials, such as DAs, the motion has little historical precedent.

Beyond crime, Zeldin feels New Yorkers should be “greatly concerned” with other issues, such as the large performance gap that exists with students in the state compared to the national average, as shown by the State Test scores that were released this week.

“We’re seeing as a result of the pandemic and lockdown policies, the impact on our kids. Their generation has suffered the most of all generations…our kids don’t even have a vote,” Zeldin said.

He brought up the point that New York spends two and a half times more per pupil than in Florida and Mississippi, for example — but students in those other states performed better on standardized tests.

Additionally, Zeldin would lift the cap on charter schools, promote advanced academics and reward students for good merit rather than on a lottery basis.

Hochul also said she would lift the cap on charter schools during the debate.

“We have to raise our game as it relates to education. We have to challenge our kids to go further. We need to achieve better outcomes,” he continued.

He also emphasized the importance of school safety, in regard to threats students face along with gun violence: other physical violence, bullying and drugs.

Zeldin feels confident that he’ll be able to work in concert with Mayor Eric Adams, as they share similar views on judges having discretion and amending Raise the Age, which is 2017 New York State legislation that raised the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years.

Early this year, Adams previously said prosecutors should be permitted to charge 16 and 17-year-old defendants caught with a gun as adults.

When asked about immigration and the migrant crisis New York City is facing, Zeldin said that he would call on President Joe Biden and advocate for completing the construction of the border wall, ending catch and release and enforcing the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

He also does not support giving non-citizens the right to vote.

“We should support our customs and border patrol agents, and we shouldn’t be incentivizing and rewarding illegal activity,” he said. “It’s my opinion that we should be doing more to secure our Southern border.”

Zeldin emphasized that if elected, he would proudly work with anyone, regardless of political affiliation or differing views on certain topics. 

Republicans, Democrats and Independents need to look at this opportunity less than two weeks away as their opportunity as New Yorkers to save New York City and save New York State. They have an opportunity to restore balance and common sense up in Albany. Everything has gone too far left up in Albany,” he said.

“There are a lot of common sense Democrats…And there are a lot of other Democrats out there who proudly view themselves as independent-minded. They’re New Yorkers first and foremost. They care about rising crime and skyrocketing costs. They care about being able to feed their family and heat their home. They care about soaring crime and DAs who release violent criminals to roam free on our streets,” he continued. “These New Yorkers…need to take control of their destiny, their family’s destiny, their community’s destiny and do their part to save our state.”

 

Matthew Fischetti contributed reporting to this article.

2022 Election Profile: Andrew Hevesi runs for re-election in District 28

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]

Hevesi runs for re-election in District 28.

After 17 years in the New York State Assembly, Andrew Hevesi is vying to score his ninth victory in District 28.

His district, which he has held since 2005, encompasses parts of Forest Hills, Rego Park, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Middle Village, Glendale, Maspeth and Kew Gardens, the latter of which he recently gained due to redistricting.

The boundaries of Assembly District 28. Photo: Redistricting and You: New York, Graduate Center of Cuny.

Hevesi, 48, sits as Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Children and Families.

In this role, Hevesi strives to target adolescent trauma through implementing support systems for both children and parents. 

“What I’ve been working on primarily, and we had great success last year, was in using as much state funding into any program that’s going to prevent or mitigate psychological trauma from adverse childhood experiences,” Hevesi said. “Everything you are seeing in the papers — from crime to rising homeless, to kids dropping out of high school, to higher rates of suicide, and all kinds of things — I think it’s all a function of unprecedented and unmitigated adverse childhood experiences and childhood trauma.”  

Hevesi and his office worked last year to coordinate a coalition of approximately 100 assembly members and 40 senators to attack this issue as effectively as possible.

“The rest was that in the budget this year was the largest single investment in children in New York State history,” Hevesi said.

This agreement was a $7 billion investment over four years that will raise the salary level of the childcare workforce, which Hevesi noted is primarily Black and Brown women, and to increase the number of childcare seats available throughout the city. 

From this investment, 400,000 new seats were made available for children up to the age of 13.

“Childcare is one of the best ways to prevent childhood trauma from when kids are home alone,” Hevesi said. “It’s socialization. It’s the protective factors that you need to offset this kind of trauma.”

Furthermore, $10 million was invested into YouthBuild, a program originally founded in the 1980s.

The program’s direction has shifted to directly target children who are 16 or 17 years old who are at risk of “picking up guns or becoming a part of gangs,” and instead encourages them to find a career.

“There are a variety of other wins for kids just by money in the budget,” Hevesi said.

To best serve his community while balancing his responsibilities in Albany, Hevesi delegates funding to organizations within his neighborhoods that serve “the most vulnerable people” — those facing food insecurity and who need services to serve their basic needs. 

Hevesi has recently been given approximately $1 million in capital appropriation, which he breaks into smaller pots for distribution. 

“I believe a good member of the assembly, or a good senator, should have an issue that they are expert on,” Hevesi said.

That issue was homelessness for years, as Hevesi was part of numerous efforts to reach an agreement in Albany and with then-Governor Andrew Cuomo on a rent supplement plan to prevent those who are struggling to pay for housing from being forced into shelters. After the plan failed for five years (“Try working on something for five years and then have to give it up!”), Hevesi was appointed the Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Children and Families. 

If re-elected, Hevesi exclusively told the Queens Ledger that he spoke to leadership, and informed them that he would like to chair the Health Committee in the upcoming term.

Hevesi is a Forest Hills native. Born and raised in the neighborhood, he now lives with his wife, daughter and dog, Lola. 

“I’m a Forest Hills guy completely,” Hevesi added. 

Forest Hills is set to become the home to QueensWay, a linear park along 3.5 miles of abandoned tracks that run through Central and Southern Queens. The plan has been met with controversy, particularly from those who supported QueensLink, a plan to turn the abandoned tracks into a railway. 

Hevesi supported the QueensWay when it was first conceived — “It must have been a decade ago,” he exclaimed — but he admittedly didn’t believe the plan would ever come to fruition.

He described arguments he used to have with Phil Goldfeder, the then-assemblyman of District 23, whose seat has since been filled by Stacy Pheffer-Amato. 

“He and I used to have arguments about it, and then we’d laugh because either one of the proposals cost billions. You’re going to get a rail, I’m going to get a park? Forget about it,” he said. “And then strangely, the QueensWay kept pushing. Adams bit, and put money behind it.” 

The QueensWay will cause trouble for Hevesi, he explained, because it runs behind the Forest Park Little League, so a plan must be made to work around this issue.

Although he supported turning the railroad into a park, Hevesi did sign on in support of a feasibility study for the QueensLink to see if there is a possibility of the park also serving as a transportation hub.

“I’ve been supportive of the QueensWay for a while,” he concluded. “It’s not my top issue, but I think it could be a very good thing for the community.”

To remain accessible to his constituents, Hevesi explained that the best way he can talk to the people in his community is by going door-to-door.

“If people don’t want to talk to you, that’s fine,” he said. “But the fact that you’ve shown up and taken an interest, and they have the opportunity to tell you something about the neighborhood? I think knocking doors is the best way to do it.”

Furthermore, when a constituent writes a letter or email to the assemblyman, he writes a letter back “in substance,” providing a full answer for their concerns.

Hevesi faces Mike Conigliaro this election, a Republican candidate who serves as the president of the Community Education Council – District 24 school board. The election is on Nov. 8.

Group calls for regulation of all two-wheeled motorized vehicles

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

As locals continue to see more motorized vehicles other than standard cars on the streets, many hope that the operators — and the law — will uphold the responsibility involved with being on the road in any capacity.

In recent weeks, the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) penned a letter to local elected officials Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan and State Senator Joseph Addabbo to propose state legislation that would regulate all motorized, two-wheeled and over vehicles.

In the letter, the group called for these vehicles to be licensed, with a metal license plate on the rear, and insured.

They also believe that all operators of such vehicles should be required to pass a written and driving test to be licensed.

The group feels that, if passed, this legislation would significantly reduce the number of traffic accidents and pedestrian injuries.

Charles Ober, the group’s president, said that as a civic association, part of their grassroots mission is to address concerns they’ve heard from members of the community — these vehicles being a common one.

“The basic complaint is they do not follow any of the traffic rules. They are very unsafe, a lot of them don’t even wear helmets. They have passengers on the back of them with no helmets, they snake in and out of traffic, they cut cars off, they go through red lights and don’t stop at stop signs,” Ober said.

“We would like to see that they be registered and insured. This is a big issue, and we think that the state can regulate it better and give the Police Department tools to enforce the law,” he continued. “We’re not trying to force them off the road, we’re asking them to follow the rules.”

According to an infographic from the DOT, Class 1, 2 and 3 e-bikes, as well as e-scooters are not currently required to be licensed or registered.

Source: DOT.

For e-scooters and Class 1 and 2 e-bikes, helmets are recommended for all, but required for 16 and 17-year-old riders and working cyclists.

All mopeds must be licensed, registered and insured — however, some residents claim that they’ve seen these vehicles operating with no license plate, as well as illegal e-mobility devices such as segways or electric skateboards.
“We’re concerned that we see unlicensed scooters and motorbikes. I saw a guy on a segway going down Central Avenue, and I saw a guy on a motorized skateboard going in the wrong direction. These vehicles are always just zooming about, zipping across traffic in and out, not stopping for lights,” said Peggy O’Kane, secretary of RPOCA.

“They’re a danger to pedestrians and cars, and they’re a  danger to themselves.”

Her biggest concern is safety and accountability for all.

“People have no sense of obligation that they need to take responsibility. I think if they had to have some kind of insurance, it would be a benefit to everybody, because if they injure somebody — that somebody is straight out of luck.” she said.

At the June 104 Community Council meeting, Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman, Commanding Officer of the 104th Precinct, said that when it comes to illegal motorbikes, the 104’s efforts are to remove them from the streets.

“What we do is we set up operations for this kind of thing and try and get them somewhere where there’s a bottleneck so we can enclose them and grab them,” Coleman said.

On Oct. 15, the 104 Precinct took to Twitter to announce the confiscation of several illegal dirt bikes, mopeds and ATVs.

When asked about his thoughts surrounding the issue, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi said he “would be open” to further regulation of these vehicles.

“There are motorized scooters all over the place where they shouldn’t be. They’re in parks, on sidewalks, they scare people and they sound terrible,” he said. “I would be open to reasonable regulations for these vehicles.”

CPC gives thumbs up to Innovation QNS

Commissioners voted 10-3 in favor of controversial project

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Rendering of 38th Street Plaza by Innovation QNS.

The City Planning Commission gave a thumbs up to the large Innovation QNS project proposed for Astoria, despite a big thumbs down from Community Board 1 in June.

The proposed $2 billion development would build 12 towers between Northern Boulevard and 37th Street, some up to 27 stories tall, along with two acres of open space and 2,800 housing units — 700 of them permanently affordable — or 25 percent.

The commissioners voted 10-3 in favor of the proposal, advancing it to the next step of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) application process.

Kaufman Astoria Studios, Silverstein Properties and BedRock Real Estate Partners are the developers behind the project.

Tracy Capune, vice president at Kaufman Astoria Studios, sees the CPC’s nod to the project as a significant stepping stone to providing benefits to the community.

“The need for affordable homes, family-sustaining jobs, public open space and expanded services for immigrants, seniors and young people has never been greater, and [the] overwhelming approval of Innovation QNS by the City Planning Commission is an important step toward delivering all of that and more for our neighbors in Astoria,” she said.

“We look forward to working with Councilmember Won and our neighbors in the weeks ahead to ensure City Council approval of this $2 billion investment at a critical moment for our community.”

Moments before the CPC voted, Chairman Dan Garodnick recommended the commission vote to approve Innovation QNS, citing thousands of job opportunities, affordable housing, public open space and many amenities.

“The affordable housing component of this project that will be created without public subsidy would be considered the largest privately financed affordable housing project in Queens in generations. At a time when our housing crisis is more pronounced than ever, that is a big deal and a big opportunity to take the pressure off the rents in this and surrounding communities,” Garodnick said.

“Innovation QNS is a unique opportunity to create nearly 3,000 homes including hundreds of permanently affordable homes that will change the lives of thousands of New Yorkers, providing them with stability in a vibrant neighborhood — where little of that stability currently exists,” he continued. “We should not let such an opportunity pass us by.”

Now, it’s up to the City Council to vote on whether or not to approve Innovation QNS; however, Councilwoman Julie Won, who represents Astoria in District 26, has been vocal about her disapproval of the development project since the beginning of her time in office.

Usually, the City Council votes in accordance with the position of the councilmember who represents that district.

Won criticized the developers of Innovation QNS for “disregarding” the voices of locals and not considering the community’s need for deeply affordable housing.

“I have requested for the development team to return to the community again with modifications and we will not settle for a plan that is below 50 percent affordable. Nearly 70 percent of renters in this part of Astoria are already rent-burdened or severely rent-burdened, with a current average rent of around $1,800. There are 54,000 eviction cases filed in NYC this year alone. I cannot in good conscience add more market-rate luxury housing in my district where it continues to produce an upward trend in rising rents,” she said.

“I refuse to inflict greater displacement and increase risk for evictions for working class families in my district. The developers are still offering only the minimum of 25 percent affordable apartments, calling on the city to utilize public dollars to provide any additional affordability,” Won continued. “My apprehension for this project remains and I have serious concerns that this project will displace many immigrant and working class residents that call this part of Astoria home, as landowners worry about their profit margins.”

Last month, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards also said “no” to the project; however, his input merely served as a recommendation.

In his recommendation, Richards called for an increase in the number of affordable housing units as well as expanding the lowest affordable income band to individuals or families earning 30 percent area median income (AMI).

Rendering via Innovation QNS.

“New York City is in the throes of a housing crisis, with Astoria families feeling that crush harder than most, but we have an incredible opportunity before us to reverse this tragic trend. I stand by my recommendation that certain commitments be made by the Innovation QNS development team to meet this moment,” he said.

“I have a deep respect for the City Planning Commission and its work, and I am hopeful [this] vote will lead to a healthy dialogue and community-first solutions as Innovation QNS proceeds to the City Council,” Richards added. “I remain in close contact with the developers, my fellow elected officials and all our community stakeholders, and will continue to push for true community-first solutions on the issues of affordability and equity.”

An ongoing critique of Innovation QNS is that the developers failed to engage in adequate, robust community outreach before moving forward with the application process.

Even CPC Chair Garodnick acknowledged in his opening remarks that the development team could have done a better job with this, and encouraged all future applicants to keep comprehensive community engagement at the “forefront of their minds.”

Evie Hantzopoulos, an Astoria resident, a member of CB1’s Land Use Committee and an activist with Astoria Not For Sale strongly believes that the Innovation QNS team has not done enough to improve their community outreach.

At a town hall meeting held at Kaufman Astoria Studios back in April, Hantzopoulos referred to their community engagement efforts as “a joke,” and told them outwardly that they are not being transparent.

“They’ve spent their time trying to get people to sign postcards to send in favor of it. That’s not outreach. They’re not trying to understand what the community wants and needs,” she said. “They already have their plan. They’re going through with it. Anything they do is perfunctory.”

As for her reaction to the CPC approving the plan: “disappointed, but not surprised.”

“We are going to mobilize and make sure that the voices of people who are going to be most affected are being heard,” she added.

Farihah Akhtar, an Astoria resident and organizer at CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, described Garodnick’s praise to the community members who came out to raise their voices against the project as “hollow and a slap in the face” to those fighting gentrification and displacement.

“Billionaire developers are enabled by our broken city planning and land use process and this has festered for decades. New York City is facing a major housing crisis, but what we need are deeply affordable units…these units are out of reach for working class and immigrant communities that have traditionally called Astoria home,” she said.

“NYCHA residents, with median incomes of approximately $20,000 per year, would not even meet the income requirements to apply for the affordable housing lottery,” Akhtar added.

“We will continue fighting. Astoria and New York City deserve real affordable housing and meaningful community engagement. This project is wrong and no amount of rationalization makes it palatable to our communities.”

Pol Position: Attack Ads target Assembly Candidate

Real estate interests are spending big in local assembly district races across the city, with attack mailers labeling candidates as too far left.

One of these candidates, Juan Ardila, was recently endorsed by The Queens Ledger in the race for Assembly District 37 — which covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, and Long Island City.

The attacks ads are part of a last-minute ad-blitz from the group “Common Sense New Yorkers,” a Super PAC funded by big real estate money.

Records from the State’s public disclosure system show that within the last two weeks, “Common Sense New Yorkers” has received two donations from 360 SLD Management, a foreign limited liability corporation under the White Plains-based Cappelli Organization, for $30,000; and Muss Development, a multigenerational development company based out of Forest Hills.

These are the groups funding the message that Juan Ardila is “bad news” for our community. Pretty rich for people who don’t live in the neighborhood.

The mailer labeling Juan Ardila as “Dangerous! Reckless! Socialist!” are far from the truth. In an interview with The Queens Ledger, Ardila emphasized that he was not seeking DSA’s support in the race, and has received the endorsement of more traditional New York liberals like Senate Deputy Leader Michael Giannaris or the Working Families Party.

The mailers also claim that Juan Ardila wants to “reduce the budget of the police throughout the state” and that it is in his own words. In the Jim Owles questionnaire response, the attack ad which refers to Ardila specifically, talks about funds that have been used to militarize the police and divert them to social programs to be able to tackle the issue of crime. While he does advocate for some reallocation, it is far from the “too extreme for Queens” allegations.

The mailers also attack Ardila for racist, homophobic and anti-semitic comments he made in high school. This is not a new revelation as it was unearthed by The New York Post during Ardila’s previous campaign for City Council. Ardila has previously apologized for the language he used on Facebook as a teenager.

The truth is Juan Ardila has the best interests of district residents. He is an ardent supporter of good cause, a necessary bill that will protect tenant rights, while the cost of living keeps rising.

One of Juan Ardila’s main competitors in the race, Johanna Carmona, is the real estate industry’s pick. Public records show that Carmona received $4,700, the highest possible donation from Neighborhood Preservation, a PAC associated with the pro-landlord Rent Stabilization Association.

With 24 hours left in the campaign, Carmona has raised some key high-dollar donations from other real estate interests. Public records show that she took a $1,000 donation from Dan Tishman, a long-standing member of the Real Estate Board of New York. Carmona also took $1,000 from Ayala Barnett, the wife of Extell Development founder Gary Barnett, who received favorable tax breaks after being a long-time donor to former Governor Cuomo, as the New York Daily News reported.

Juan Ardilla has foregone taking corporate or developer money. While the polls will have closed before this paper is printed, these attack ads only solidify our endorsement of Ardila as the candidate to represent the community’s interests up in Albany.

Crowley Steps Down from Friends of the QNS Board

Former New York City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley has stepped down from her position as chairperson of the board of Friends of the QNS, a nonprofit organization that she founded to advocate for expanded commuter rail-based transit across the borough.

Crowley said her decision to step down was made in order to focus fully on her candidacy for New York State Senate District 17.

“It has been an honor to serve as the chair of Friends of the QNS,” Crowley said.

The “QNS” proposal was introduced by Crowley to improve transit within her former Council district. Specifically, the plan sought to revive the former Lower Montauk rail line, which stretches nine miles from Hunters Point in Long Island City, through central Queens neighborhoods including Middle Village, Glendale, and Ridgewood, to the Jamaica hub.

This portion of central Queens is commonly referred to as one of the City’s “transit deserts,” since no passenger rail currently serves many of these neighborhoods.

In a 2018 report from the Department of Transportation, it was confirmed that the defunct rail line could be converted to include passenger service at a fraction of the cost of other major expansion projects like Manhattan’s 2nd Avenue Subway.

The New York State Senate district seat that Crowley is currently running for would include a vast majority of the former Lower Montauk Line within its boundaries. It was recently created by state lawmakers following the 2020 Census and will include Glendale, Maspeth, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Ozone Park, and Greenpoint in Brooklyn within its boundaries.

But while Crowley is stepping down from her position as the board’s chair, she said she vows to continue to advocate not only for the QNS rail but for a greenway along the QNS line, if elected.

“Queens has been growing at a tremendous pace, especially Long Island City,” Crowley said. “For this borough to keep up with its growth, we need to provide better transit to our residents. It’s not ambitious, it’s common sense.”

This proposal to restore the former commuter rail is similar to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 14-mile IBX plan, which seeks to add a train line from Bay Ridge in Brooklyn to Woodside, Queens.

Both use existing, underused train rights-of-way, converting them to passenger service from strictly freight service.

Crowley also indicated that she would work to include a dedicated bike lane running parallel to QNS, because “an intolerable” number of bicycle accidents and fatalities have been occurring in recent years.

“If we want people to use alternative transportation, we want them to feel safe as they do so. A slightly revised QNS ‘rail and trail’ plan would help that goal,” Crowley said.

Denise Keehan-Smith, former chairperson of Community Board 2, will replace Crowley as the new chairperson of the Friends of QNS. Keehan-Smith promises to continue the hard work that Crowley started and will also advocate adding a bike lane to the proposal. The organization also hired a senior strategist to help assist with the group’s expanding workload.

“I shall be forever grateful to [Crowley] for serving as the founder and chair of our organization,” Thomas Mituzas, a Blissville resident and QNS board member, said. “She brought to the forefront the need for a new commuter line for the many living in the transportation desert of Queens.”

Felder launches campaign

By Evan Triantafilidis

[email protected]

Ethan Felder is running for New York State Assembly District 28, which includes Rego Park, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Forest Hills.

Ethan Felder, a labor lawyer from Forest Hills, has announced his campaign for the State’s 28th Assembly District.

The seat currently held by 17-year incumbent Andrew Hevesi represents Glendale, Richmond Hill, Kew Gardens, Ridgewood, Rego Park, Maspeth, Middle Village, Elmhurst and Forest Hills.

Over 50 people gathered at Macdonald Park in Forest Hills on March 6, for Felder’s campaign kickoff event, where he claimed that the district is in a “moment of unease.”

“Hate and violence against people and their communities have left many feeling unsafe, unheard and unwanted,” Felder said. “The answer is not detachment, condescension and empty political posturing. Complacency in these times just won’t do. It’s time to turn the page. It’s a moment where true solidarity must be twinned with sensibility, not ideological dogma. We can have public safety and stand for dignity for all people.”

Felder’s platform includes public safety, quality education and economic dignity.

He has been outspoken against the current plan for a jail being placed in Kew Gardens, as well as being in favor of raising the minimum wage to $18 per hour.

The lifelong Queens resident also promotes building trust with local police precincts, amid trends of hate crimes on the streets and in subway stations.

“Many in the community are concerned about rising crime and hate,” Felder said. “I am too. Elected officials in Albany have lost their way. People are tired of talk. It’s time for action and fresh energy.”

Showing support at the campaign launch were Monica Cruz, a spokesperson for the Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Sylvia Martina, a Lefrak City tenant and Fahad Solaiman from the Jackson Heights Bangladeshi Business Association.

Felder, a union labor lawyer at 32BJ SEIU, has served on his local Community Board 6 for six years. In 2018, he represented the tenants of LeFrak City in the fight for voting rights.

“It’s always been about service,” Felder said. “It’s what led me to represent the voters of Lefrak City pro bono when the voting rights of 6,000 people were suppressed by the Board of Elections. It’s why I rallied the community against antisemitism, anti-Asian hate and for Black Lives.”

Solaiman added, “I know him as a man who always thinks about everyone. We need people like him to talk for us, to talk for the community.”

Felder attended Cornell University for his bachelor’s degree in government and later attended Washington University in St. Louis for his MBA and doctorate in law. He is a graduate of Townsend Harris High School.

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