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Hailie Kim: City Council 26 Candidate

By Matthew Fischetti

mfischetti@queensledger.com

Hailie Kim is running to represent the Sunnyside neighborhood she grew up in.

Kim, 29, is one of three candidates currently challenging Julie Won to represent City Council District 26 which stretches across chunks of Western Queens nabes like Sunnyside,Astoria, Long Island City, Woodside and Western Maspeth.

Kim, a 29-year-old professor, self described democratic-socialist and organizer is running on one main issue: education. It was her main issue when she ran for the seat in 2021. But Kim emphasizes that it was still her main issue after the City Council voted for the mayor’s budget, which the Comptroller’s office has estimated to total $469 million.

I would make sure that there are no more cuts to public education in the next budget. I would, at the very least, negotiate to a place where I can get to a yes,” Kim said in a recent sit-down interview.

While Won did vote for the budget, she did secure over $5 million in capital funding for schools which are funds that help pay for construction, upgrades and more. Also,

Kim also emphasized that she would support measures such as reducing class sizes and institute bilingual education in order to improve reading and education scores.

I think for students who need more actual in school, like structure, who are English language learners, having funds and resources to help them with their reading levels.”

In 2019, only 47.4% of students scored proficient in reading and only 45.6% of students scored proficient in math.

Beyond just education, Kim has said she would be a greater check on the Adams administration.

The mayor was able to take advantage of the lack of experience of a freshman City Council. And that he was really able to strong arm them into just voting whatever way he wanted,” Kim said. “Because that budget was passed two weeks early.”

Kim also heavily criticized the mayor and city council adopted budget, which she likened to an austerity budget, criticizing further cuts not just to education but to public libraries and parks.

The Kim campaign has raised over $15,000 in funds thus far, qualifying the campaign for over $120,000 in matching funds.

The matching funds are part of a new program to help finance city council elections. If a candidate reaches over 75 contributors in their district for $10 or more, as well as matches other basic criteria, they can qualify for 8 dollars to be matched for every dollar donated.

Kim’s campaign has also forgoed taking money from real estate developers or police unions.

Kim told BQE Media that her path to victory will center around her focus on education issues.

We will have the best field team out there and have as many people as possible knocking on doors, getting as many people talking about education as possible,” she said. “I think it is such an important issue, especially for a district that has one of the most crowded school districts in the city.”

Other declared candidates in the District 26 race include Lorenzo Brea and Marvin Jeffcoat. The primary for this election will occur on June 27 while the general election will happen on November 7.

Electeds Celebrate $7.1M in Capital Funding for Lawrence Virgilio Playground

By Alicia Venter

aventer@queensledger.com

Lawrence Virgilio Playground, which runs betweens 39th Road and 39th Drive in Woodside, received $7.1 million in capital funding.

The funding will cover repairs and improvements including the reconstruction of the children’s play area; reconstruction of sidewalks, asphalt paths and natural areas; reconstruction of four handball courts; new security lighting for children’s play area, paths and seating areas; and reconstruction of two adult fitness areas.

Council Member Julie Won, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, NYC Parks Queens Acting Borough Commissioner Jackie Langsam gathered with the community on Thursday, Dec. 8 to celebrate the funding.

“Since taking office, I advocated for these much-needed repairs and was able to get $7.1 million committed with the partnership of the City Council Speaker and Queens Borough President,” said Council Member Julie Won. “Thank you to all of the parents for their advocacy to ensure that this playground gets these much-needed improvements. Our children’s safety and access to green space will continue to be a top priority in our district.”

The funding came after years of community advocacy for repairs — the last upgrades to the playground were in 2007, which included the addition of a mini-pool, basketball courts, pathways and new exercise equipment.

“When Councilmember Won was running for election, my daughter and I invited her on a playdate to see the issues at Lawrence Virgilio Playground. I am delighted to see that so much of what we talked about—the lack of gates, the broken spray shower, the slippery mats, the incorrectly placed fencing around the swings—finally will be addressed,” said parent and resident Nicole Haroutunian.

From left: Local parent Nicole Haroutunian and her daughter; Acting Borough Commissioner
Jackie Langsam, Council Member Julie Won, and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards
at today’s funding announcement at Lawrence Virgilio Playground.

Community leaders celebrate Women’s History Month

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, Queens residents came together at C Restaurant and Lounge in Kew Gardens to celebrate and honor women’s achievements.

Rahana Rampershad, co-founder of WE RULE, and Rose Deonarine, founder of ReadySetRose, collaborated to make the event “I am Every Woman, We are Every Woman” a safe space for women in the community to network, celebrate other women’s milestones and self-reflect on their own journeys.

Both hailing from Richmond Hill, Rampershad and Deonarine’s respective organizations focus on highlighting stories of female founders and inspiring and educating the masses, which is what motivated them to localize those missions through the event.

“The goal of our event was to inspire and encourage each other to be better versions of ourselves. The name itself ‘I’m every woman, we are every woman’ and the lyrics by Whitney Houston represent that we as women are the embodiment of so many beings,” Deonarine said. “So when we say that phrase, it’s to be inclusive of all the other women in the room.”

“We did not want it to be about us or government officials, we wanted to make sure it was very inclusive. Everybody had a little piece to play in the room,” Rampershad said.

“There were people at the event that we met for the first time, and they were the first ones to message us and ask when the next event was,” she continued. “It was very powerful.”

Ebony Young, Queens deputy borough president; Vjola Isufaj, chief of staff for Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar; and Mone’t Schultz, deputy chief of staff for Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson showed their support at the event.

Jyoti Bindra, owner and manager of Vikhyat USA in Richmond Hill, was presented with a citation from Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar’s office to honor her contributions to the community during the height of the pandemic.

While the main specialty of Vikhyat USA is providing customers with customized Indian attire, Bindra and the shop’s 70-year-old seamstress worked together to sew masks and distribute them around the U.S. for free during a time where they were in high demand.

“It was so encouraging for her, and it brought her to tears,” Deonarine said of Bindra. “She runs this business with her mom and they depend on it for survival, and yet she did this out of the goodness of her heart and possibly saved lives. That’s why we had this event in March, to celebrate women, whose rights have been oppressed for several years. We’re finally getting our voices heard and we have a long way to go, but on that day we just wanted to celebrate us.”

Beacon Eldercare FREE Zoom Seminar: Holiday Edition, Community Service

In the next Dessert with Andrew & Yvonne Zoom Seminar, the dynamic duo will discuss ways you can help those in need this holiday season. The seminar is titled, “Holiday Edition: Community Service.” From soup kitchens to nursing homes; learn about the various ways one can volunteer, and hear from organizations that are making a positive impact in our community.

Sliwa aims to ‘Save the Senate’

His bid for mayor fell short, but that doesn’t mean Curtis Sliwa is going to sit on the sidelines in 2022.
Sliwa announced this week that he is forming the “Save the Senate” Super PAC aimed explicitly at defeating Senator Chuck Schumer. First elected to the Senate in 1998, Schumer is seeking a fifth term.
“I am more committed than ever to advancing our Republican values and priorities and holding liberal elitists accountable for failing New York and America,” Sliwa says on the website’s mission statement. “Next up: Senator Chuck Schumer.”
Sliwa says he plans to raise millions of dollars through the political action committee, which will in turn be used to promote and help elect a Republican challenger to the Senator Majority Leader. Schumer has not faced a serious challenger in the last three elections.
“As senator, Schumer has delivered nothing more than Sunday press conferences with empty promises,” the website continued. “Between the rising cost of living, a broken healthcare system, struggling public schools, and lack of affordable housing, it is clear that Senator Schumer’s primary concern is keeping himself and his cronies in power.”
Bronx attorney and Albanian immigrant, Aleksander Mici, announced recently that he would seek to challenge Schumer on the Republican line. And Sliwa hasn’t totally ruled out throwing his red beret into the ring, but said he would only run as a last resort.
When Schumer was elected in 1998, he defeated Republican Al D’Amato. D’Amato is now a lobbyist, and recently told the Post that Schumer is virtually unbeatable. The senator visits every county in the state every year, and is a fundraising powerhouse.
Heck, D’Amato even endorsed the man who replaced him during the 2016 election.
As for the aforementioned Siena College poll, voters were also asked how they feel about Schumer. Among Democrats, 70 percent said they had a favorable view of the job Schumer was doing, while only 20 percent of Republicans polled could say the same.

Hochul in control

At this point, it looks like it’s Kathy Hochul’s job to lose.
According to a Siena College poll released this week, the current governor holds a double-digit lead over her next closest challenger, Attorney General Letitia James.
In a survey of registered Democrats, if the primary were held today, 36 percent said they would vote for Hochul to represent the party in next year’s general election, while 18 percent said they backed James.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams would get 10 percent of the vote, while Mayor Bill de Blasio and Congressman Tom Suozzi would each get 6 percent of the vote. Twenty-four percent said they are undecided or back another candidate, which means there’s still plenty of undecided voters out there for the candidates to sway.
Suozzi announced his intent to run last week, turning down an offer by mayor-elect Eric Adams to join him at City Hall and serve as deputy mayor.
Suozzi’s decision reportedly upset some in the Democratic Party, who would prefer that he focus on re-election to Congress, especially after the GOP did much better than expected in local races in Suozzi’s current congressional district, which includes parts of Queens and Nassau County.
With Suozzi focused on running for governor, the seat could be vulnerable to being flipped by Republicans, who are focused on taking back the majority in the House next year.
There was also speculation that Suozzi and the governor would be competing for the same voters, namely conservative-leaning Democrats, making it harder for her to win re-election and opening the door for a progressive candidate like James or Williams.
As for now, it doesn’t look like Hochul has to worry about that, but there’s still a long way to go until the June primary.

Suozzi’s folly

Dear Editor,
I couldn’t believe the shortsightedness and purely narcissistic comments Congressman Thomas Souzzi made about running for governor.
Regarding Congress, he said “I’m hoping we win the majority again and we may not, it doesn’t matter. I’m running for governor.”
It doesn’t matter? The GOP taking over the House with Kevin McCarthy, who denies the treasonous attack of January 6 and shows no respect for the rule of law, as speaker doesn’t matter?
The same Kevin McCarthy who was against the infrastructure legislation that will provide jobs for New York State? That doesn’t matter because Suozzi wants the job he was made for?
I have news for you Mr. Suozzi, things are bigger than you. To say that it “doesn’t matter” makes Suozzi yet another Democrat like Senator Joe Manchin, who will sabotage the goals of a sitting Democratic president.
Yes it does matter, how can it possibly not?
Sincerely,
Stew Frimer
Forest Hills

Pandemic predators

Dear Editor,
I’m shocked by accusations that “nonprofit” hospitals sued patients and filed liens against their homes during the COVID crisis, despite receiving state emergency funds.
The Coalition for Affordable Hospitals, a group of labor unions, claims that 55 hospitals sued nearly 4,000 patients for medical debt while getting over $442 million from the state’s Indigent Care Pool.
These pandemic predators exploited taxpayers and patients out of sheer greed. Among the worst culprits, says the Coalition, is Northwell Health, New York’s largest hospital system a biggest private employer with 23 hospitals, 650 outpatient facilities and more than 70,000 staffers.
Its president & CEO, Michael Dowling, got a total compensation exceeding $4 million last year, ten times higher than President Joe Biden’s salary. Not bad for the head of an enterprise designated as a “nonprofit, tax exempt” organization by New York State and the federal government.
In television commercials, hospitals portray themselves as compassionate lifelines to their communities. But their bottom line takes top priority in real life.
They are nonprofit profiteers who violated a basic mandate of medicine: “First, do no harm.” State leaders and regulatory agencies must probe and penalize them for financial abuse.
Sincerely,
Richard Reif
Kew Gardens Hills

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