When Mireille Leroy looks out her campaign office window on Sutphin Boulevard, she does not like what she sees.
Leroy, a Democratic candidate for the seat currently occupied by City Councilman Thomas White (D-South Ozone Park), said she is running to help improve the district’s quality of life.
“I feel like my district is in surgery and I’m not looking for a Band-Aid solution,” said Leroy, a Haitian immigrant and South Jamaica resident who moved to the United States at 9 years old. “I’m living in a community that’s deprived. It’s like a desert. There’s nothing. It’s awful and I felt something had to be done.”
“We have youth walking around idle with nothing to do,” Leroy said. “We don’t have a youth center in the community. With the people behind me working together with me, I can make a difference. It’s like, ‘Enough is enough.’ It can’t go on.”
If she is elected, Leroy said she would work to ensure more daycare centers are operating in the district, noting their budgets will be slashed come September.
“This is not the environment for our little ones,” she said. “At that age, you’re letting them know consistency is not important.”
Leroy said the district — which encompasses Jamaica, South Jamaica, Ozone Park and Rochdale Village — is suffering from other quality-of-life issues, including prostitution among teenage girls.
“It’s not ‘ladies of the night’ anymore,” she said. “We call them ‘youth of the day.’”
“I want to see Sutphin Boulevard — I want to see it changed,” she said.
Leroy, who collects disability after an accident at her job as a manager for Hertz Rent-a-Car near John F. Kennedy International Airport, has been involved in ACORN for three years and said foreclosures is another key issue in the district.
She said foreclosure seminars being run in the district have done a lot of good for those in danger of losing their homes, but not for those who have gone through the process.
“Guess whati Too late. They’ve already lost their homes,” said Leroy, chairwoman of the Queens chapter of ACORN, a grassroots nonprofit.
She said she has gone up to Albany with the group to advocate for the foreclosed and those in danger of losing their homes.
“I don’t go to these activities for photo-ops,” Leroy said.
Other than White, Leroy is up against real estate businessman Lynn Nunes, former state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) aide Ruben Wills, Steven Jones, Joseph Marthone and Robert Hogan — all Democrats.
Leroy, who said the fund-raising side of her campaign is going well, is fourth behind White, Nunes and Wills in contributions with $3,933. But she has spent $4,266, according to the latest city Campaign Finance Board filings.
She said President Barack Obama, whose campaign she volunteered for, helped inspire her. His theme of making the campaign about the people involved and not just him was also true of hers, she said.
“I can’t do it alone. I need everyone involved,” she said. “I promise I will live up to my community to the highest expectations.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2009 Community News Group
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