In a surprisingly civil two−hour session, the four remaining contenders for the 21st City Council District seat vacated by state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D−East Elmhurst) debated the issues and touted their platforms at the Langston Hughes Library last Thursday. The special election takes place Tuesday.
Democratic District Leader George Dixon, community activist Francisco Moya, former Queens Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Eduardo Giraldo and former Monserrate Chief of Staff Julissa Ferreras all indicated they would work to preserve funding for cultural institutions and fight for more local jobs at major projects like the Willets Point redevelopment.
Dixon, a Democratic district leader from East Elmhurst, said he would commission a survey of youth and parents in the community before earmarking money, but noted he regarded cultural and after−school programs like those offered at the library to be among the most important to the area.
Moya said he would push for more public−private partnerships to preserve cultural and recreational programs threatened by government budget cuts, noting that when the Catholic school he attended as a child lost funding, he and his neighbors chipped in to provide sports programs for students.
Giraldo emphasized his business credentials and said he would put pressure on the major establishments in the district — the Mets, the United States Tennis Association, LaGuardia Airport and the Willets Point redevelopment — to contribute more to the community.
Ferreras said she would concentrate funding on established community nonprofits to help expand their programs and also suggested public−private partnerships.
“We should be opening public school doors to programs that run efficiently,” she said.
The candidates also agreed that the district needed more local jobs at major projects like Willets Point.
Dixon said he would use his office as a post to influence developers to employ residents of the neighborhood in which the project is being built.
“You need to be in a position to speak with developers and unions,” he said.
Moya suggested he would be a more vocal advocate for the district’s share of concessions in publicly funded developments.
“We have to have a conduit to negotiate the number of jobs that will come with it,” he said.
Giraldo said he would emphasize the rights of minority workers, touting his work with the chamber to establish Local Law 129, which mandated that minority−owned businesses receive more city contracts and saying the Mets did not live up to their promises of minority contracts for Citi Field.
Ferreras, who has won the endorsement of most major unions in the city, said she would champion legislation requiring any development receiving public funds to use union labor. Thousands of union families live in the Council district, she said.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@tim
©2009 Community News Group
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