Can Anyone Help Far Rockaway?
On Tuesday, February 19th, a few of the 115,000 residents over 18 in Far Rockaway, Arverne, Edgemere and Bayswater, as well as Rosedale, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens will choose a New York City Council Member for the rest of 2013. After a primary in June or September (date not set) and a general election in November, the winner (or survivor) will serve a four year term.
The winner gets a chance to work with the new mayor and city administration to solve the old problems of low income, lack of employment, crime, poor educational achievement, loss of Peninsula Hospital, inadequate community facilities and weak civic organizations. In addition the new problems of damaged and destroyed houses, ris- ing insurance costs and loss of the A-train make this job a real challenge.
Eight candidates are on the ballot. Perhaps all together they could start to solve the problems, but only one will get the chance. There are certainly differences among the candidates.
Jacques Leandre, a successful Laurelton attorney, with roots in the Haitian community is making his second try for this office. Michael Duncan, of Rosedale, has strong roots in the Jamaican (WI) community and can rouse a crowd recalling Nat Turner’s rebellion.
Selvena Brooks, of Rockaway Beach, has experience working with the NYS legislature and now with the Service Employees Union. Pesach Osina, of Far Rockaway, with strong support in the growing Orthodox Jewish community, could pull an upset that would get city-wide attention.
Marie Adam-Ovide of Laurelton, Manager of Queens Community Board 13, and Saywalla Kesselly, of Arverne, have raised little money and will have difficulty competing. Allan Jennings, a former City Council Member from another district, was defeated for reelection after the Council sanctioned him for sexual harassment of Council employees.
Donovan Richards, of Springfield Gardens, appears to be in the right place at the right time. As Chief of Staff to the recent Council member, he has been closely involved with most Council activities and worked with community issues in Rockaway and on the “mainland”.
As a longtime opponent of gun violence, he can help us participate in the national campaign to reduce gun violence.
Many ethnic and social groups have a strong desire to have their own representative in government. How can we all be personally represented in government? The Israeli Knesset (parliament) consists of many parties speaking for groups like Orthodox Jews, Israeli Arabs and labor unions, not one member per district. NYC would have to amend the City Charter to allow proportional representation.
Each Council member should enable representatives of all local groups, religious, housing developments, civic associations, labor unions etc. to come together to discuss plans for the community.
We have a wealth of talent, but very little interaction among our community groups. I have rare praise for Council Member Eric Ulrich, who represents the west end of Rockaway, for joining a small number of Council Members who allowed their constituents to propose and vote for the community projects they wanted funded.
Both Rockaway districts must work together to get the funds we need to restore and rebuild the whole peninsula.