StreetsPAC Endorses in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn Borough-Wide Races

We're excited to announce our endorsements for the June 22nd primary election in borough-wide races in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.

As with the candidates we've endorsed for City Council, we're greatly impressed by the degree to which candidates for higher office have emphasized the importance of safe and livable streets in their campaigns. And we've had to make some very difficult endorsement decisions, given the quality of the fields in numerous races. This is especially so as elected officials whom we've supported in the past – most notably sitting City Council Members who are term-limited – face off against each other in races for higher offices. It's not easy to endorse one reliable ally over another, but at the same time, and luckily for New York City, there are many more good candidates than there are elective offices.

About 150 candidates have sought StreetsPAC's endorsement in this election cycle, about twice the number as in any previous election. To be considered, a candidate must complete a detailed questionnaire, and meet with our board. We sought the broadest possible participation, contacting more than 400 campaigns; those candidates who did not participate fully in our process were not considered for endorsement.

Read on below to learn about our endorsees and their positions on street-safety and transportation issues, and check back soon for our endorsements in citywide races.

2021 Borough-Wide Endorsees: Manhattan BP | Queens BP | Brooklyn BP | Manhattan DA

Manhattan Borough President

MarkLevineCropped.jpgMark Levine, Manhattan Borough President (Open Seat) – Mark Levine, who currently represents Upper Manhattan's 7th Council District and chairs the Council's Health Committee, is our pick for Manhattan Borough President.

Mr. Levine, whom we endorsed when he won his current seat in 2013, and again four years later, has been a leading voice for better bus service and safer streets. He championed 125th Street Select Bus Service when he ran for office, bucking opposition from other elected officials, and introduced a bill in 2017 to speed up the city's implementation of transit-signal priority. He supported expansion of the Amsterdam Avenue protected bike lane into Harlem, a road diet for Riverside Drive, and pedestrian-safety improvements on Morningside Avenue, all in the face of Community Board intransigence. And he backed the replacement of three city-owned parking garages on West 108th Street with a 200-plus-unit affordable senior-housing project that included a shelter.

If elected Borough President, Mr. Levine will diversify Manhattan's Community Boards, and he's committed to working to pedestrianize sections of Broadway and implement safe crosstown bike paths through Central Park. He will advocate for replicating the highly successful 14th Street busway on other major east-west streets, and has put forth a plan to rezone parking garages to allow them to serve as local package-delivery hubs, which could facilitate a major increase in e-cargo bike deliveries.

We were also favorably impressed by Mr. Levine's three leading opponents in the race for Manhattan Borough President: State Senator Brad Hoylman, City Council Member Ben Kallos, and Lindsey Boylan, the former Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Housing for New York State. All three have put forth compelling visions for improving street safety and public transit options for Manhattanites, like Mr. Hoylman's aspirational plan for a car-free Manhattan, Mr. Kallos's call to expand congestion tolling to the entirety of New York City, and Ms. Boylan's interest in Barcelona-style superblocks.

Mr. Hoylman, whom we've endorsed in the past for the State Senate seat he first won in 2012, has been a strong voice in the legislature on a number of important issues. He stopped the NYS DMV from tacking on improper fines for cycling violations, drew a line in the sand in support of congestion pricing, and late last year, introduced "Sammy's Law," which, if passed, would clear the way for further reductions in the city's speed limit.  It's not for us to decide the length of Mr. Hoylman's commute, but he's been a good and effective ally in Albany.

We endorsed Mr. Kallos when he first ran for City Council in 2013, and again when he won re-election in 2017. He's been a champion for better biking infrastructure during his tenure. He pushed NYC DOT to implement crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side, and was instrumental in the closing of the dangerous nine-block gap in the Second Avenue bike lane. More recently, his offer to fund security fencing on the Queensboro Bridge's south outer roadway finally spurred City Hall to make significant upgrades to the bridge's bike infrastructure.

Ms. Boylan, who ran for Congress in 2020, is passionate about walking or riding her bike (which she calls "Flash") around Manhattan. She's keen to create more Open Streets throughout the borough, and would make improving transit accessibility a top priority.

But for the promises he's kept, the vision he's put forth, and his energy and temperament, we believe Mark Levine is the best choice for Manhattan Borough President in the June 22nd Democratic Primary.


Queens Borough President

DonovanRichardsCropped.jpgDonovan Richards, Queens Borough President (Incumbent), Ranked Choice #1 – The race for Queens Borough President is effectively a three-way affair, among incumbent BP Donovan Richards, who won the seat in 2020, succeeding Melinda Katz; current City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents portions of western Queens; and former Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, who did not participate in our endorsement process.

While both Mr. Richards and Mr. Van Bramer have progressive records on transportation issues, and offer compelling visions for Queens, our top choice in the race is the incumbent, Mr. Richards.

Mr. Richards, who represented Southeast Queens's 31st District in the City Council, frequently played against type in a district that in many places is more suburban than urban. He supported congestion pricing and speed cameras, and in championing the Downtown Far Rockaway rezoning in 2016 called for improved transit service, new bike lanes, and reduced parking requirements in the face of Community Board demands for more parking spaces.

In his State of the Borough address in March, and again in responding to our questionnaire and in his interview, Mr. Richards laid out an ambitious agenda for safer streets and better transit service. He will advocate for a network of protected bike lanes across Queens, expanded access to bike share, and bike parking at subway stations. He's pushing for busways around Jamaica to speed up commutes, and wants to expand Open Streets across the borough. And he's allocated about $3 million to build the security fencing that will allow for the opening of the Queensboro Bridge south outer roadway to bikes.

He's also begun reforming Queens's Community Boards, appointing more women, people of color, persons under 35 – and people who ride bikes.

JimmyVanBramerCropped.jpgJimmy Van Bramer, Queens Borough President (Challenger), Ranked Choice #2 – Jimmy Van Bramer, whom we supported in both his 2013 and 2017 City Council races, has been a staunch supporter of progressive transportation policies. He advocated relentlessly for Citi Bike, and as a result, his district was the first place in Queens to get bike share. He championed the redesign of Queens Boulevard, and the critical inclusion of protected bike lanes in the project. He was an early supporter of congestion pricing, and along with Ben Kallos, offered up the funding that led to City Hall's embrace of more space for biking and walking on the Queensboro Bridge. As the Council's Cultural Affairs Chair, he played a key role in the city's adoption of the Open Culture program, which facilitates live arts performances in public spaces.

Mr. Van Bramer also has big plans for Queens' streets if elected. And given his record, our decision was not easy. But we believe Mr. Richards is best positioned to sell the entire borough on a vision that prioritizes biking and walking and public transit while weaning Queens – especially its eastern and southern reaches – off its dependence on cars.


Brooklyn Borough President

AntonioReynosoCropped.jpgAntonio Reynoso, Brooklyn Borough President (Open Seat), Ranked Choice #1 – Two candidates for Brooklyn Borough President stand out from the pack when it comes to the issues central to our agenda, and they're both elected officials whom we've endorsed multiple times for their current seats. While both would make fine choices for this office, our pick in the Brooklyn BP's race is Antonio Reynoso.

Mr. Reynoso, who had just sold his car to fund his run for office when we first encountered him in 2013, also happened to be making that run against the still-formidable former Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez. Seven-and-a-half years later, he's still riding a bike instead of driving, and has distinguished himself as perhaps the most outspoken member of the City Council on the need to move New York City away from its automobile-dominated past.

As Chair of the Council's Sanitation Committee, Mr. Reynoso led the effort to pass the Commercial Waste Zone effort that will eliminate millions of miles of dangerous truck trips every year. He pushed the Department of Transportation to move ahead with the Myrtle-Wyckoff pedestrian plaza in 2016, advocated for the physically protected bike lanes on Brooklyn's Grand Street, and last year, called on NYC DOT to build a busway on Berry Street.

Mr. Reynoso has an expansive progressive vision for the Borough Presidency. He wants to remake Atlantic Avenue, which he thinks should be a modern complete street of which Brooklynites can be proud, rather than the dangerous "embarrassment" it is today. He'll push the city to create a borough-wide network of protected bike lanes, and to expand Open Streets widely and equitably. He'll prioritize completion of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, which has lagged for years, and is more than willing to commit capital dollars to expand bike- and scooter-share.

Like Mr. Richards in Queens, Mr. Reynoso has also pledged to overhaul Community Boards to make them much more representative of the neighborhoods they serve.

JoAnneSimonCropped.jpgJo Anne Simon, Brooklyn Borough President (Open Seat), Ranked Choice #2 – Jo Anne Simon, whom we've endorsed in the past three elections for her current seat in the State Assembly, has been a strong supporter of congestion pricing and speed cameras, among other important initiatives. Before running for office, she played a key role in advocating for the Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming project and fixing the Gowanus Expressway. She recently introduced a bill that would establish electronic enforcement of overweight trucks on the BQE's Triple Cantilever.

If elected Borough President, Ms. Simon would appoint an independent screening panel to evaluate Community Board applicants, and would be committed to improving the borough's bus service, including restoration of the B71, for which she's long campaigned. She'll push for expansion of Brooklyn's cycling network, and for prioritizing equity in transit, biking and walking.

While both Ms. Simon and Mr. Reynoso have embraced progressive ideas about transportation policy, we believe Mr. Reynoso will best be able to use Borough Hall's bully pulpit to fulfill his mission of breaking car culture, and that's why we endorse Antonio Reynoso as our top choice for Brooklyn Borough President.


Manhattan District Attorney

AlvinBraggCropped.jpgAlvin Bragg, Manhattan District Attorney (Open Seat) – There's a deep and accomplished field contending to succeed Cyrus Vance, Jr., who is not seeking re-election to the job of Manhattan District Attorney. Of the eight candidates running, five of them – Alvin Bragg, Diana Florence, Lucy Lang, Dan Quart, and Tali Farhadian Weinstein – completed our questionnaire and met with our board for an interview.

Among this impressive group of lawyers, one candidate rose to the top of our list, based on a combination of commitment to treating vehicular violence as serious crime while also seeking alternatives to incarceration, important experience managing a large prosecutorial and investigative staff, a willingness to innovate, and a plausible path to victory.

That candidate is Alvin Bragg, whom we're proud to endorse in the Democratic primary for Manhattan District Attorney.

All five of the candidates seeking StreetsPAC's endorsement brought relevant experience to the table. Mr. Bragg most recently served as New York State's Chief Deputy Attorney General, and is now Co-Director of New York Law School's Racial Justice Project. Ms. Florence and Ms. Lang both have prior prosecutorial experience in the Manhattan District Attorney's office as Assistant District Attorneys. Mr. Quart, who has represented the Upper East Side in the State Assembly for the past decade, has twice earned StreetsPAC's endorsement on the strength of his legislative work to hold dangerous drivers accountable. Ms. Farhadian Weinstein clerked for Sandra Day O'Connor, served as a federal prosecutor, and was General Counsel in the Brooklyn DA's office.

Each of the candidates has pledged to put a greater focus on traffic violence as Manhattan's top prosecutor. They would all staff robust vehicular-crimes units to investigate any fatal, and many serious-injury, crashes, independent of NYPD investigations, and all of them pledged to create a Manhattan version of the Center for Court Innovation's Brooklyn Driver Accountability Program, which has proven effective in changing driver behavior without incarceration.

Additionally, Mr. Bragg, Ms. Florence, Ms. Lang and Mr. Quart all vowed to challenge the "Rule of Two" that allows too many dangerous motorists to escape meaningful consequences for the harm they cause, and also told us they would routinely seek technological evidence, like cell phone records and information from vehicles' event data recorders, in performing crash investigations.

However, Mr. Bragg stood out among the competition, and we believe strongly that he will bring a new, serious focus on vehicular crime to the Manhattan DA's office, which will have a direct and positive effect on the safety of the borough's streets.

[Note: Because the Manhattan District Attorney is a state office, the primary election is not subject to ranked choice voting.]

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published this page in News 2021-06-02 12:12:12 -0400
StreetsPAC supports candidates for public office who will champion Safe, Complete and Livable Streets.