Recap: NYC Council District 32 Candidate Forum

October 19, 2021

On October 5th, 2021, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) held a candidate forum for New York Council District 32, which is a coastal district and climate frontline community. It centers around Jamaica Bay, Ozone Park, and the western half of the Rockaways and is currently occupied by Council Member Eric Ulrich. This forum was held on zoom in preparation for the November 2nd general election. The forum featured Democratic nominee Felicia Singh and Republican nominee Joann Ariola, and was moderated by NYLCV NYC Chapter Board Member Karen Mintzer. 

Felicia Singh is a lifelong resident of Ozone Park, a teacher, and the daughter of two working-class immigrants. She holds experience as a former Peace Corps volunteer, Vice President of Our Neighbors Civic Association of Ozone Park, and as a member of both the Assembly District 23 Country Committee and South East Queens Complete Count Committee. Singh is running on a platform that centers environmental racism and intersectionality in fighting the climate crisis and believes in the importance of amplifying community voices and involving local residents in climate policy discussions and decisions. She also holds deep concerns about “The Hole”, a section of her district where few people have proper sewer systems and is a place that is chronically ignored by civic leaders and elected officials. 

When asked about the importance of education in combatting the climate crisis, Singh emphasized the need for a climate curriculum that is intersectional and built into classes from gym to science. She also values education as a whole in her community, which she believes to be necessary for increasing electric vehicle ownership and implementing a more universal composting system where people take personal responsibility in helping climate crisis mitigation. Singh further believes in the importance of taking care of the working class, such as protecting taxi drivers in the Central Business District Tolling Program proposal that would help to mitigate congestion but burden those made to pay congestion fees to fund the MTA. 

Joann Ariola is the president of the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association and a member of Community Board 10, and holds experience working with two mayors and members of the NYC Council. She also has been involved in hundreds of cleanups throughout her district and is an appointed member of the NYS Rising Committee where she works on projects to develop climate resiliency in her community. She strongly supports increasing funding for public parks and green spaces and has worked to make parks more accessible and safe for all such as installing swings for children with disabilities. 

When asked about the sewage system in her district, Ariola spoke about how in her district, sewer lines are shared between stores and households, causing increased flooding particularly during storms such as the recent Hurricane Ida. She intends to increase sewer maintenance and alleviate any sewage backup to mitigate household flooding. She also is in favor of increasing beautification efforts in public parks, and the new Rails to Trails proposal that would ensure safer cycling throughout the district and easier access to forests and green space. When asked about accessibility to public transport, Ariola discussed how she worked to make two stations in her district accessible and intends to do so for all remaining public transport stations that are currently inaccessible. 

Thank you to our partners: the Waterfront Alliance, the Rise to Resilience Coalition, and the Regional Plan Association. Early voting is held from October 23 to October 31, and election day takes place on November 2nd.

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Submitted by Michaela Stones

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