District 22 City Council Debate Follow up Questions and Answers

District 22 City Council Debate Follow up Questions and Answers

To those of you who joined us for the recent District 22 City Council debate hosted by OANA, we advised that those of you who posted questions in our chat would have them forwarded the candidates for a response.

We have received responses from Republican candidate Felicia Kalan and Democratic candidate Tiffany Caban, and would like to share this with everyone.

QNS did a story on the debate that you can read here.

Questions and Responses below:

 

Thomas McSorley
07:10 PM

Question: the role of CM is to work with city and state officials and advocate for our district. I want to hear more from the candidates about plans to really do this- how will they work with governing bodies to help us? real answers

Felicia Kalan

Answer: I’m already on the ground building coalitions with our city and state elected officials advocating for our community- and will be a part of the bi-partisan common sense caucus. Moreover, I want to be a liaison at City Hall for parents, our seniors and our small business owners, and will work closely with our small business community to fight for their needs. I pledge to attend civic association meetings, small business association meetings and to be accessible to our community by hosting regular town halls and maintaining an open-door policy. Whether Democrat Eric Adams or Republican Curtis Sliwa wins,  I am a bridge-builder willing to work with anyone so that the needs of the district are met.

Tiffany Caban

Answer: I have already done this – without being an elected – and will continue to do so. I advised on policy for three presidential campaigns this last cycle, I have worked closely with members of Congress facilitating community roundtables and joining in advocacy efforts, and I have worked with our state legislators on drafting legislation and whipping votes of sitting members. In collaborating with state and city officials or any elected, we will not proceed with a project without having community stakeholders at the table, and we are going to implement participatory processes – community members directly deciding needs, ideating solutions, and producing change with help and funding from our office.

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John Surico
07:12 PM

Question: Would love to hear more about who stands for design-build, getting rid of low-bid, and speeding up the DDC blueprint for reform.

Tiffany Caban

Answer: It is critical to reduce administrative challenges to design and construction, and it is also true that we need to engage on projects meaningfully without focusing on the cheapest option or one that may have insufficient experience. We need to focus on project value-add – even if it means a more expensive project – if that value is going to quality and to living wages for union workers.

Felicia Kalan

Answer: My highest priority is stewarding your tax-dollars well while also ensuring adequate pay for workers and quality design that fits the character and needs of our neighborhood.  During COVID, the DDC’s COVID response efforts set new standards for fast procurement and use of innovative, collaborative delivery tools to design and complete projects in record time, and I will always be a leader that will help fight to cut bureaucracy.

As a side note I’m very concerned that my opponent Ms. Cabán will fight for rent stabilization of 1, 2 and 3 family homes- this will devastate many homeowners that rely on renting out their second unit to pay their mortgages, especially as property taxes continue to increase.

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Anne Marie Noëlle
07:12 PM

Specific question for candidate Caban: In your manifesto you mention your goal of “decommodifying housing”. This is a well known concept under Marx’s view of socialism as a means of abolishing private home/property ownership and/or eliminating the rights of current property owners and imposing further restrictions on free enterprise for the creation of state sanctioned housing. Is that your goal/end gane, in the same way you call for “abolishing the police”?

Tiffany Caban

Answer: My goal is to guarantee housing for every person. One of the ways we can do that is through social housing – creating mixed-income communities with fixed rents and guarantees on renters’ ability to stay living in their home. We have more than enough vacant living spaces in New York City to ensure every person has a home, without taking homes away from other people.

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Rick White
07:22 PM

Question: Good evening all, The Ditmars small business community suffered greatly from Tropical Storm Ida. Many of us had horrible flooding. Unlike homeowners, FEMA does NOT offer grants to help us recover and rebuild. Please tell us what you can do to help the small business community in situations like this.

Felicia Kalan

Answer: I was on the ground with my team helping with relief work after Hurricane Ida, and did hear from many businesses and homeowners that did not have flood insurance, and were negatively impacted by the district. The SBA did distribute low interest loans to small businesses so I would work with the Chamber and local business associations to ensure all small businesses knew their options, and I would have fought to extend federal relief to our area small business owners as well- while also setting aside a portion of discretionary funding for emergency relief in the neighborhood. Moreover,  I would organize a private campaign in the neighborhood to qualifying small businesses (we did do a fundraiser for our seniors). In general, our emergency preparedness and response needs a complete overhaul, and we also need to ensure accountability for basic sanitation efforts- such as cleaning out our sewage drains, which would have prevented the damage. Moreover, I would also encourage small businesses to file a claim with the Comptroller’s office against the city’s negligence to recoup losses.

Tiffany Caban

Answer: I went out right after Ida to visit businesses and saw the devastation. We have to do more to support our small businesses, which are the backbone of our local economy. We have to coordinate with federal and state allies to increase financial recovery support for small businesses, increase funding for and accessibility to grants programs, and permanently end city fees associated with renovating and fixing small businesses – we know it can be done because that’s one of the measures the Mayor took in response to Ida. We have to take every step we can to make rebuilding and sustainable renovations easier on small businesses.

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Rick White
07:25 PM

Question: The term “Defund the Police” is understood and extremely divisive. I think we can all agree that in a city the size of NYC that a police force is necessary. IF you subscribe to this term :”Defund the Police”, Please tell us what that means to you.

Tiffany Caban

Answer: Defunding the police means building the public health infrastructure necessary for stable neighborhoods instead of annually increasing the budget for policing and incarceration.  It is the City’s responsibility to create the workforce to meet our City’s needs. And that means having enough of the right kind of worker to address the problems we experience everyday. Because budgets are zero-sum games, the money to invest in community-led safety and public health solutions will need to come from policing and incarceration – and that is okay, because we already spend 3 times as much ($18 billion) on policing and incarceration as we do on public health ($6 billion). That funding disparity produces racist, oppressive outcomes that do not – even by police metrics – solve violence in a meaningful way; these are clearly not long-term solutions. Evidence shows public health responses to violence produce better outcomes and less violence than more policing and incarceration. If it saves lives, it’s worth doing.

Felicia Kalan

Answer: I am the only pro-police candidate in this race. We should NOT defund the police, especially when crime is up in the neighborhood. My opponent Ms. Cabán doesn’t just want the police “defunded”, she wants the police “disbanded” and has said “there is no connection between police and public safety”. I believe we need police to keep our communities safe, and that we don’t have to disband the police to invest in crime prevention. We can invest in prevention efforts by supporting children and families, empowering people with jobs and education, and ensuring accountability in our budget so we can fund investment in our neighborhoods.

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Rick White
07:29 PM

Question: With regards to the elimination of “No Cash Bail”, based on how the current law is written and handcuffs judges, how can we reconcile this idea and still keep violent and repeat felons off the streets?

Felicia Kalan

Answer: We need to make changes to bail reform. Repeat offenders should be kept off our streets and that can only happen if the State Legislature enacts judicial discretion, such as in New Jersey.

Tiffany Caban

Answer: Bail was initially conceived to ensure someone returns to court. Instead every ounce of evidence shows that all it does is fuel incarceration of Black, brown and low-income communities. Data we have shows that releasing 90% of people held on pretrial detention for misdemeanors did not increase recidivism or reduce likelihood of court appearances. Pre-trial detention does not reduce recidivism – the rate people are incarcerated again after release – or increase the likelihood someone shows up to court. It is also pre-trial – so nobody has been convicted of a violent felony, or any crime, at that point. People are more than one thing – someone who is being charged with a violent offense is likely to have been a victim of violence at some point themselves. Ending cash bail means we are simply allowing poor people the same chance we offer rich people – the opportunity to prepare a defense from their home and enjoy their constitutional right to the presumption of innocence. That helps folks keep their job, home, family together – it helps keep communities stable. Evidence shows that is a better way to reduce violence than incarceration, which only increases chances of more violence and recidivism.

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phyllis parra
07:34 PM

Question: Reopen Shore Blvd to Cars again. Need to have a compromise. Should be open to ALL

Having Shore Blvd closed is discriminating towards elderly, the disabled and families trying to carry items plus strollers and navigate the hills to get to newly renovated playground

Tiffany Caban

Answer: We absolutely need to increase accessibility, particularly for people who are disabled or elderly, but it’s not clear more reliance on cars is the answer. We have to shift from our car culture toward open streets and 15-minute neighborhoods that allow every person to get whatever they need within a short distance. We do need solutions to this specific issue, and I want to talk to community members about what that could look like more – there may be alternatives we can think through together that work better for everyone.

Felicia Kalan

Answer: I would work with the community to create a consensus on the issue, but I favor opening up Shore Blvd. to traffic as I’ve heard many residents in the area complain.

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Rick White 
07:39 PM

Question: Storm Drains have yet to be cleaned since Tropical Storm Ida back in September. THEY are the primary culprit for most of the basement flooding along the Ditmars Blvd small business corridor. Please offer your thoughts on how you’d work with DOT, DOE and DSNY to improve for the future?

Felicia Kalan

Answer: I couldn’t agree more- with a 98 billion dollar budget there is absolutely no excuse that we aren’t regularly cleaning out storm drains and keeping trash off of our streets so it doesn’t clog up the drains- and I will fight day one for this.

Tiffany Caban

Answer: I think we need to create a local version of a Conservation Corps – locally hired environmental workers paid to take care of these kinds of environmental problems, local pollution, and other issues. We have a Conservation Corps at the state level and the federal government is looking at creating one to help improve the environment while generating jobs – there is no reason we should not have a local corps to rapidly remove detritus from storm drains and work alongside community members to improve resilience.


In Case you missed the debate, you can watch it here.

District 22 Candidate Debate

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Mr. Khuzami has been a member of Community Board 1 in Astoria, NY for the last 20 years. He sits on the Zoning and parks Committees and is on the Executive Board. Previously, he served as Parks and Culture chair of Community Board 1 for eleven years and also chaired Capital and Expense priority Committee. He is a member of the Queens General Assembly and had been a panelist for grant submissions for the Queens Council on the Arts (QCA). Richard also is an officer of The Eastern Mediterranean Business Culture Alliance (EMBCA) and President of OANA.