LONG ISLAND CITY, NY – New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides visited the offices of The National Herald on March 9 to give an update on the progress of his campaign for Queens Borough President. The visit followed another week of gaining key endorsements for Constantinides including from the New York City chapter of the historic Sierra Club, a leading advocate for environmental preservation for more than 100 years.
Constantinides told TNH that so far the campaign is going well, ahead of the midnight funding deadline tonight. He noted that for every dollar donated to his campaign, the City will match the amount times eight. He also noted that the special election is on March 24, but Queens voters can participate in Early Voting on Saturday, March 14-Sunday, March 22.
More information on Early Voting and polling sites is available online: https://vote.nyc/elections/special-election/early-voting.
When asked what are the top issues facing Queens, Constantinides told TNH that for most Queens residents he has spoken to the concerns are the transit system, good schools for the borough, and the environment. He noted the need for the borough to have representation on the MTA board, like other counties who have far less residents than Queens, which he pointed out if it left New York City would be the fourth largest city in the United States. The decisions made to cut certain bus lines in Queens were made without even giving the public a say in the matter, and Constantinides noted that fellow Greek-Americans New York State Assembly Member Aravella Simotas and State Senator Andrew Gounardes have introduced legislation to get representation for the boroughs on the MTA board.
Also a key issue: Keeping up the standards at good schools and improving them by bringing them into the 21st century with upgrades in technology and new science labs in every Queens school, and focusing on STEM education that will help prepare young people for 21st century jobs.
“There is also a desperate need for affordable and appropriate senior housing,” of the type HANAC has built, Constantinides said, adding that HANAC does a wonderful job and there are 22,000 seniors on the waiting list for such housing.
“A senior may be living in an affordable apartment, but if it is a fourth floor walk-up without an elevator, they can trapped in their home, so appropriate housing is also needed,” Constantinides told TNH.
He also explained the role of the Queens Borough President, for those unfamiliar with what this executive position entails. Constantinides noted that the job includes making decisions about land use, appointing members of the Community Boards, and being in charge of the capital budget, about $40-70 million a year, from the City which he would use for the schools, hospitals, and sustainability. The County Executive is a fighter for the borough, Constantinides said. He told TNH that the application process should also change for the Community Boards which should be more diverse so that as many voices as possible can be heard.
Investing in hospitals is also a priority for Constantinides who has already brought $7.5 million to Mount Sinai Queens which now has a state-of-the-art stroke center that saves time and lives. As Queens Borough President, Constantinides would see that all Queens hospitals are upgraded with the latest technology so that Queens residents can be treated closer to home without having to travel to hospitals in Manhattan or Long Island. He noted that 15 years ago, his own father had suffered a head injury and living just across the street from Mount Sinai Queens was taken there but since they did not have the technology at the time, he had to be taken to Manhattan for treatment and did not make it.
Following the endorsement by the Sierra Club, Constantinides said, “The Sierra Club NYC chapter represents the best of our movement to create a healthy, sustainable environment. I am honored to once again work with them as we Transform Queens into the leader on sustainability, as we double our greenspace over the next 10 years, shrink our carbon footprint, and create 50,000 new green jobs.”
Constantinides has joined the Sierra Club NYC chapter to push the City of New York to become the leader on sustainability. Together, they championed the City to commit to 100% renewable energy in its buildings, invest in electric vehicle charges, and create the framework for community solar.
As Borough President, Constantinides noted that he “will fight hard to protect our 2.4 million residents from the devastating impacts of climate change while creating tens of thousands of good-paying jobs. Queens kick-started the Green New Deal, and we should lead the way going forward.”
“The Sierra Club is pleased to endorse City Council Member Costa Constantinides for Queens Borough President,” said Catherine Skopic, Chair and Lisa DiCaprio, Conservation Chair, Sierra Club NYC Group. “As a member of the City Council and Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, Council Member Constantinides has introduced important bills that have been enacted on key environmental issues, such as renewable energy, air pollution, green buildings, and environmental justice. As Queens Borough President, Council Member Constantinides will work tirelessly and creatively to promote essential sustainability initiatives.”
Costa Constantinides currently serves in the New York City Council, where he represents western Queens and chairs the Committee on Environmental Protection. His legislative accomplishments include the Climate Mobilization Act, a Green New Deal for New York City, as well as the historic 80% reduction by 2050 of carbon emissions commitment. Costa lives in his native Astoria with his wife and son.
For more information, visit: www.votecosta.com.