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Table of Contents

I. Purpose
II. Candidate Evaluation Principles and Process
III. Queens Borough President Office
IV. Candidates and Questionnaires
V. Voting and Registration Information

 

PURPOSE

On Tuesday, March 24th, New Yorkers will vote in the Special Election for Queens Borough President. To help voters prepare for the upcoming election, we bring you our 2020 Special Election Voters Directory. The Voters Directory provides a description of each candidate evaluated by Citizens Union’s Local Candidates Committee, their responses to Citizens Union’s good government questionnaire, and information about the rigorous evaluation process and assessments of candidates.

New York City Special Elections are nonpartisan, meaning you do not need to be registered with a political party to cast a ballot. For more information about the Special Election, visit the NYC Board of Elections website at http://vote.nyc.ny.us or call (866) VOTE-NYC.

 

CANDIDATE EVALUATION PRINCIPLES AND PROCESS

In this election cycle, Citizens Union has evaluated 5 out of 6 candidates running to fill the Queens Borough President’s Office after the seat was vacated by Melinda Katz when she became the Queens District Attorney in January. Interview teams made up of Local Candidates Committee members assess the candidates based on their responses to CU’s questionnaire (a prerequisite for interviews), research, first-hand knowledge of the candidates, and interviews with the candidates, which are approximately 30 minutes each. The interview teams then make advisory recommendations to the full Local Candidates Committee, which deliberates and makes recommendations to the Citizens Union Board, which makes the final decision. An “Endorsed” rating reflects a candidate that Citizens Union deems not only qualified for the office with a viable candidacy, but also committed to an agenda of positive reform. Please note that candidates not endorsed may nevertheless be highly regarded, which is generally reflected in the commentary. Citizens Union issues a “Preferred” rating in primary elections, and an “Endorsed” rating for Special and General Election contests. A “No Endorsement” rating may result when there is insufficient information available, it is believed that the candidates are of equal merit, or if no candidate interviewed by Citizens Union is believed to be effective or capable of representing the district.

 

OFFICE OF THE BOROUGH PRESIDENT

The Borough President essentially serves as the head of each of New York City’s five boroughs. According to the City Charter, the Borough Presidents major responsibilities are to:

  • Make appointments for community boards
  • Make recommendations to the mayor and to other city officials in the interests of the people of the borough.
  • Have power to hold public hearings on matters of public interest. 
  • Have power to recommend capital projects. 

The Borough President may conduct hearings, issue reports and make recommendations with regard to the Borough Presidents responsibilities. S/he has the authority to appoint members to various city entities, including local community boards, and also serves on a number of bodies. 

 

CANDIDATES

Below are descriptions of each candidate Citizens Union interviewed. As a preliminary manner, we note that generally the candidates favored stronger authority for the Borough President, including a seat on the MTA board, revitalized transportation, and more funding from the city for the borough. As these views were so frequently expressed, we did not identify those issues in each write-up.

 

Donovan Richards  | ★ Preferred Candidate ★

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Candidate has returned a questionnaire
Age: 36
Occupation: New York City Council Member
Education: Aviation Management from Vaughn College of Aeronatics

Donovan Richards currently serves as the New York City Council Member for the 31st district, encompassing much of Southeast Queens, including the Rockaways. While a Council Member, Richards has been the chair of several committees, including the Committee on Public Safety, the Committee on Environmental Protection, and the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises. If elected, Richards’s top priorities for the Queens Borough President’s office are to improve affordable housing, advance criminal justice reform, protect and expand immigrant rights, and to fix public transport. While a Council Member, Richards’ main accomplishments have been securing $1.5 billion in sewer infrastructure funding for the district and securing $288 million in investments for rezoning in Far Rockaway, a historically disenfranchised neighborhood in the city.  Due to Richards’ long list of accomplishments in his district, his use of data in problem-solving, and the depth of his understanding of land-use and vision for equitable development in Queens, Citizens Union endorses him for Queens Borough President.

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Costa Constantinides

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Candidate has returned a questionnaire
Age: 45
Occupation: New York City Council Member
Education: Queens College, B.A.; Cardozo School of Law, J.D.

Costa Constantinides currently serves as the New York City Council Member for the 22nd district, which encompasses Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Woodside. Constantinides’ campaign focuses on his work with climate change and environmental reform in Queens. He has been the Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee since 2015, and throughout his term as a Council Member championed initiatives on climate change, housing, and education. In 2016, he procured $30 million to help renovate Astoria Park and has committed to creating 500 units of affordable senior housing by 2021. If elected, Constantinides’ top priorities for the Queens Borough President’s position are to appoint a Deputy Borough President for Sustainability, begin putting solar panels on all City buildings that could accommodate them, and fight the current MTA redesign of the current bus network in Queens. While Citizens Union has endorsed Council Member Constantinides in past elections and was inspired by his vision for a greener Queens, Citizens Union believed that other candidates were more suited to the position.

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Elizabeth Crowley

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Candidate has returned a questionnaire
Age: 42
Occupation: Former New York City Council Member
Education:  SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology, B.A.; Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture, M.S.

Elizabeth Crowley is a former New York City Council Member for the 30th district, which encompasses Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, and Woodside. She lost her re-election in 2017 by a razor-thin margin of 137 votes. Crowley’s campaign revolves around her experience as a Council Member and a Queens native. During her time as a Council Member, Crowley was Chair of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services and led a citywide effort to save firehouses and improve the city’s 911 call-taking system. She also called for the removal of 16 and 17 year olds from Rikers Island. If elected, Crowley’s top priorities for the Queens Borough President’s office are to get a larger share of city funds for the borough, expand transporation options throughout the borough, and increase arts funding. While Citizens Union has preferred former Council Member Crowley in past elections, and is impressed by her long political career and commitment to Queens, we believe that there were other candidates who were more poised to lead in this position.

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Anthony Miranda

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Candidate has returned a questionnaire
Age: 58
Occupation: Executive Chair of the National Latino Officers Association and Retired NYPD
Sergeant
Education: New York City College of Technology. A.A.; John Jay College of Criminal Justice, B.A.

Anthony Miranda is currently a retired NYPD sergeant and is running his fourth campaign. If elected, this would be Miranda’s first time holding a public office. Miranda’s election campaign centers on his long history of law enforcement experience, affinity for progressive activist groups, and its grassroots style. Miranda is the founder and chairperson of the National Latino Officers Association, which aims to promote and amplify Latino culture in both public and private agencies, with an emphasis on law enforcement communities. Miranda’s top priorities for the Queens Borough President office if elected are to expand public housing in the borough, ensure that Borough Presidents have a seat on the MTA board, reform and regulate taxis and Ride-Sharing companies, and advocate for NYC workers and public projects. While Citizens Union has evaluated and preferred Miranda in the past, and appreciates his commitment to reform and local issues, we believe that his level of experience is inadequate for this position.

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Jim Quinn

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Candidate has returned a questionnaire
Age: 68
Occupation: Retired Assistant District Attorney, Queens County
Education: Columbia University, B.A.; Fordham Law School, J.D.

Jim Quinn is a former Assistant District Attorney for Queens County and is currently an adjunct Professor of Law at St. John’s University School of Law. If elected, this will be Quinn’s first time holding elected office. During his time as an Assistant District Attorney, Quinn was appointed as the Chief of the Narcotics Bureau as well as the Executive Assistant District Attorney under District Attorney Richard Brown. If elected, Quinn’s top priorities for the Queens Borough President position are to keep Rikers Island open, fight the newly implemented bail laws, and to keep the Specialized High School Admissions Test as the sole criteria for admission to the city’s specialized high schools. While Citizens Union appreciates Quinn’s commitment to local issues, we believe that his policy positions are not broad enough for an office such as the Borough President.

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Unevaluated Candidate

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Dao Yin
Candidate could not be reached in time for this evaluation.

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VOTING AND REGISTRATION INFORMATION

REGISTERING TO VOTE

You are eligible to vote in municipal, federal and state elections if you are:

  • 18 years of age (on the date of the election. You can register at 17 if you will be 18 before the election – Send your voter registration card in the year you turn 18 and it will be filed on your 18th birthday);
  • United States citizen; AND
  • Registered to vote 25 days before the election.

 

VOTING EARLY

 In Special Elections ANY registered voter may participate, and New York City will be assigning residents to voting locations.

  •  Find Queens poll site assignments here.
  • Check voter registration status here.

 

VOTING ON ELECTION DAY

The Special Election will be held on Tuesday, March 24th. Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. If you have general questions regarding eligibility or the location of your polling place, please call 1-866-VOTE-NYC. You can also locate your polling place online, including handicap entrances, at https://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/search

Under federal law, if you are disabled and choose to vote in person rather than by absentee ballot, you are entitled to assistance. You can rely on the election employees for help. At the polls, if you are not on the voter registration list, it may be because your registration form was not received in time or was filled out incorrectly. If you believe that you are eligible to vote, you can still vote by requesting an affidavit ballot. After the election, the Board of Elections will check its records and your vote will be counted if you are indeed eligible.

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