BAYSIDE, QUEENS — Eight people are vying to represent Bayside in NYC’s City Council, and Patch asked them all to respond to the issues that residents care the most about.

We went through neighborhood groups, forums, and Patch comment pages, and found three main issue on locals’ minds: support for Bayside’s elderly, crime and safety, and quality of life, especially as the neighborhood sees an influx of new residents amid the pandemic.

Now, with early voting beginning on June 12, and the election ten days later on June 22, we asked all District 19 candidates to respond to those issues.

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The issues

Here’s each question we asked, with excerpts of each candidates’ response (barring Adrian Aviles and Frank Spangenberg, who did not respond to our survey):

1. What will you do to support the higher than average population of elderly people living in District 19?

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Vickie Paladino and John-Alexander Sakelos, who are both running in the district’s Republican primary, said they would increase efforts to reduce crime, to which the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

Paladino also said she’d aim to “keep property taxes low” and Sakelos would work to keep “streets clean.”

Tony Avella, Nabaraj KC, Richard Lee, and Austin Shafran, who are all running in the district’s Democratic primary, said they would focus on increasing senior-specific services, here are some excerpts from their answers:

Avella: “The 19th Council District is a transit desert. Public transportation is minimal and unreliable. This disproportionally affects older residents. With anticipated revenue from Congestion Pricing soon to go into effect in the City, I will work towards increasing bus service.” He would also advocate for “internet access” for older residents, and “funding to ensure seniors centers are properly equipped to handle the online/virtual needs of aging residents.”

KC: “It is very important to give District 19 seniors the resources they need to age in their homes. That means fighting property tax increases that drive seniors out of their homes. It means investing in senior centers, where seniors can engage with their neighbors and have access to vital services. It also means… creating more affordable senior housing where appropriate. I would like to see more accessible subway and train stations and curb cuts to help those with disabilities move around Queens.

Lee: “I look forward to using my office to expand low cost housing options for seniors in our communities. One option I’d like to explore is rehabbing our numerous vacant single family homes into low-cost, dorm-style housing for seniors in conjunction with a support system for seniors who need it. I would like to expand access to technology. We must first move to treat broadband as a public utility to ensure that all have affordable access.”

Shafran included four different elements from his “Senior Agenda: 1. Establish a car shuttle service to provide cost-free, full-service transportation for seniors anywhere they want to go in Queens anytime. 2. Enhance senior service funding. 3. Expand loan assistance for seniors in need of home repairs by increasing funding and easing eligibility requirements for the Senior Citizen Homeowner Assistance Program. 4. Engage senior service experts and urban planning professions to assess and make recommendations on how to improve the age-friendliness of our community.”

2. What would you do to ensure safety in the district?

Paladino, Sakelos, and Shafran all said they would move to restore funding to the NYPD budget.

Lee said he would return “to a community policing model where our officers are out regularly walking the beat and building relationships within the community” and add more money to the NYPD Detective budget.

Avella would “fight to create a new precinct out of the 109th Precinct. This would increase patrol strength and response time.”

KC said that he supports adding more police officers to the subway, and that he would aim to “help young people, so they can find jobs and opportunities for growth rather than turning to violence.”

3. District 19 has seen an influx of new residents amid the pandemic, as people move from more densely populated parts of the city to low density neighborhoods. What would you do to ensure infrastructure that serves everyone in the district, as the population grows?

Sakelos and Paladino both said they would aim to end “overdevelopment” (in Paladion’s words) and support existing community members (or as Sakelos put it: “protect the rights of the law-abiding, middle class who continue to be milked dry and pushed around by city bureaucrats. “)

Shafran and Lee said they would focus on increasing the area’s transportation network.

Shafran and KC both said they would aim to fix school overcrowding. KC said he would add “more seats in our classrooms” and Shafran said he would reduce class size “by passing a law to require no more than 20 students per class and increasing school funding by mandating districts like ours receive a full and fair share.”

Avella focused on “infrastructure improvements, such as new schools, improving sewer and water lines and improving road conditions, which in neighborhoods like College Point are in extremely poor condition. This would also include advocating for funding in the budget as well as allocating my own discretionary capital monies to fund such projects.”

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