Singh to go toe-to-toe with Addabbo

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.

Pol Position: What does a socialist look like anyway?

Last week, dozens of people overheard a verbal exchange be- tween a staffer from City Council- man Bob Holden’s office and a State Senate candidate at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village.

Japneet Singh, the Democratic candidate running against Senator Joe Addabbo in a primary in the neighborhoods of Middle Village, Maspeth, Glendale, Forest Hills, Woodhaven, Ozone Park & Rich- mond Hill, was at an ‘80s night performance in the park talking to concert-goers and apparently giv- ing out campaign literature.

After all, when there is a crowd in one place it’s a good place to maybe pick up some votes, right?

The staffer began the kerfuffle, claiming that the concert was a private event in the park and cam- paigning should be done outside the park.

Singh told her that he was just socializing with friends, but she

was insistent and apparently stayed right on his tail.

Singh remained in place, and said, “We’re in the park—at an event funded by taxpayer dollars.”

As Singh and his campaign man- ager, Julien Segura, walked away, they heard a man yell, “Don’t vote for socialists.”

Singh says he attempted to talk to the man and was interrupted again. “Don’t get him started. Don’t talk to him. You don’t get to talk to him.”

The staffer pointed up and down at Singh… “This is what a socialist looks like.”

I guess we were mistaken. And all this time we thought all social- ists had three eyes in their heads.

Singh and Segura continued talking to folks in the park after- ward.

Yikes… That’s politics. Makes you think about running for office, huh?

Mike Corbett enters 59th Senate District Race

By Matthew Fischetti

Mike Corbett, the vice-chair of the New York State Democratic Party, announced his candidacy for Senate District 59 on Friday, June 10.
Corbett, a lifelong resident of Murray Hill, is the first Manhattan-based candidate to enter the race for the newly created district that covers part of Manhattan, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and parts of western Queens.

The current candidates are Elizabeth Crowley, a former city councilwoman and cousin of former U.S. congressman Joseph Crowley, Kristen Gonzalez, a young Democratic Socialist and Working Families Party-backed challenger from Long Island City, and Nomiki Konst, an Astoria resident and long-time left media commentator and political activist.

Two days after his announcement, Corbett held a press conference to announce a high-profile endorsement from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

“Mike Corbett is unquestionably the best choice to represent the new Senate District 59,” Maloney said. “As a lifelong East Side resident who worked across the river for more than five years, there is no one who better understands the needs of the diverse communities in this district. I am thrilled to support Mike and look forward to working with him when he is in the State Senate.”

Corbett has a long history of working in New York State politics. For over five years he worked as director of special events for former New York City Councilman Costa Constantinides—-who previously represented parts of Astoria and western Queens—-leading the district’s participatory budgeting program. He has also served as an aide to Councilman Eric Dinowitz and Councilwoman Marjorie Velazquez.

Corbett is also a third-generation Teamster who got some of his earliest experience in politics as a union mover. At 24, he was elected to the board of Local 814, making him the youngest elected member in that union’s history, according to his campaign.

“The response we’ve seen over the last 10 days shows that residents from Stuy Town to the Astoria Houses and from Murray Hill to Greenpoint want a candidate who understands their needs,” Corbett said on Sunday, announcing the endorsement outside of P.S. 40, where he attended elementary school. “I’ve dedicated my life to serving the wonderful, diverse communities of this district. Together, we will fight for environmental justice, create true affordable housing, build resilient infrastructure that prioritizes a holistic transit network, and protect workers’ rights.”

Sliwa aims to ‘Save the Senate’

His bid for mayor fell short, but that doesn’t mean Curtis Sliwa is going to sit on the sidelines in 2022.
Sliwa announced this week that he is forming the “Save the Senate” Super PAC aimed explicitly at defeating Senator Chuck Schumer. First elected to the Senate in 1998, Schumer is seeking a fifth term.
“I am more committed than ever to advancing our Republican values and priorities and holding liberal elitists accountable for failing New York and America,” Sliwa says on the website’s mission statement. “Next up: Senator Chuck Schumer.”
Sliwa says he plans to raise millions of dollars through the political action committee, which will in turn be used to promote and help elect a Republican challenger to the Senator Majority Leader. Schumer has not faced a serious challenger in the last three elections.
“As senator, Schumer has delivered nothing more than Sunday press conferences with empty promises,” the website continued. “Between the rising cost of living, a broken healthcare system, struggling public schools, and lack of affordable housing, it is clear that Senator Schumer’s primary concern is keeping himself and his cronies in power.”
Bronx attorney and Albanian immigrant, Aleksander Mici, announced recently that he would seek to challenge Schumer on the Republican line. And Sliwa hasn’t totally ruled out throwing his red beret into the ring, but said he would only run as a last resort.
When Schumer was elected in 1998, he defeated Republican Al D’Amato. D’Amato is now a lobbyist, and recently told the Post that Schumer is virtually unbeatable. The senator visits every county in the state every year, and is a fundraising powerhouse.
Heck, D’Amato even endorsed the man who replaced him during the 2016 election.
As for the aforementioned Siena College poll, voters were also asked how they feel about Schumer. Among Democrats, 70 percent said they had a favorable view of the job Schumer was doing, while only 20 percent of Republicans polled could say the same.

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