Mujib Rahman wants to end what he calls the double standard between longstanding residents and new immigrants in City Councilman James Gennaro’s (D-Fresh Meadows) district, should he replace the term limited lawmaker next year.
“It doesn’t mean I am against this or that,” he said. “I will see that all my district has an equal opportunity.”
Rahman is running in a Democratic primary against former state Assemblyman Rory Lancman and Briarwood activist Andrea Veras for the district covering Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica Estates, Pomonok, Electchester and a portion of Jamaica.
The winner will face Republican Alex Blishteyn in November.
The first-generation Bangladeshi immigrant does not live in the district, but since the seat’s lines were redrawn in February, he would take advantage of a law giving him a year to move from his Sunnyside home if elected.
Rahman, who considers himself a conservative Democrat, said he is running to give a voice to the large South Asian enclave, many of whom are Muslims, centered around Jamaica Estates.
This immigrant community is faced with a disproportionate number of stop-and-frisk incidents, according to Rahman, who opposes the practice and likens it to racial profiling.
He also blasted the lack of a single senior center tailored to the South Asian population in the district and cited as an example several Jewish senior centers nearby.
“Why should we not have the same things?” he asked, adding that he would also advocate for halal food in schools.
Rahman, who has two college-age children with his wife of German descent, wants the city to take away parking restrictions along the largely residential Highland Avenue. Parking is forbidden from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. along much of the stretch, which he characterized as a needless inconvenience.
Rahman formerly ran his own construction company and knows the city’s process for bidding out projects well.
He has a plan to alter the selection process to allow for more competition from smaller construction firms, which he said would save the city money.
The candidate is a supporter of charter schools and said unions like the United Federation of Teachers are putting a significant strain on the budget.
“We are hostage to unions in New York City,” he said.
Rahman would like to see public sector workers and union members contribute more to their benefits and believes the minimum wage should be equal to the wage of the lowest-paid union worker in the city.
On development, Rahman would not press for higher density buildings in the area if elected.
“We need some playgrounds, but no more development in my district,” he said. “It is already overdeveloped.”
This is not his first attempt at elected office.
Rahman ran a controversial race against now-City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) in 2009, where he said the openly gay legislator was promoting an LGBT agenda by advocating for same-sex marriage laws.
But Rahman said recently his religious beliefs are separate from his social outlook, and he respects the laws of the state. He denies any ill-will toward the LGBT community and said while in college he rallied in support of gay rights.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2013 Community News Group
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