Out queer City Council candidate Tiffany Cabán, who’s running in Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Woodside, received an endorsement from the district’s incumbent, Councilmember Costa Constantinides. The pair announced the endorsement by the entrance of the Rikers Island Bridge in Astoria on Monday, March 22, and were joined by representatives of VOCAL-NY, Sunrise Movement NYC, and TreeAge as Cabán unveiled her Green New Deal for the district and New York City.
“I’m proud to endorse Tiffany Cabán as my first choice on the ballot for District 22,” Constantinides said. “She will fight to further the goals of a Green New Deal for New York City. Her experience as a public defender inspired her to fight for systemic change that will ensure that equity and environmental justice are within the grasp of all New Yorkers. Tiffany will be a fierce advocate for all our communities in western Queens.”
Constantinides, whose final term as Astoria councilman is up this year, originally endorsed Nick Roloson, his former chief of staff, for the position last year. But Roloson ended his campaign shortly after Cabán officially entered the race in September.
During their joint announcement, Constantinides said Cabán understands that “we’re in a race against the clock” regarding climate change and environmental justice, and that making “Renewable Rikers a reality is an imperative.”
Constantinides added that he will have a very important job after his term ends: “community member.”
“That’s the most important job we really all have,” he said, adding that he’ll continue to knock on her door and continue in the dialogue.
Cabán lauded Constantinides for fighting tirelessly to “combat the dangers of the climate crisis and create good-paying jobs for District 22.”
“He has championed some of the most comprehensive environmental legislation in the nation, including the recently passed Renewable Rikers Act,” Cabán said. “During his time in the Council, and throughout his entire career, Costa has shown a true dedication to the district we both call home, and I am honored to receive his endorsement today as I unveil our plans for a Green New Deal for New York City and District 22.”
Cabán then spoke about her plan for a Green New Deal in the city, which she said offers a “community-focused approach” to tackling district issues like several polluting power plants, heat islands and flood zones.
The plan, which is based on the Green New Deal Resolution introduced by Queens and the Bronx Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, focuses on a number of topics and possible solutions, including power generation, composting and recycling, Open Streets and green spaces, transit and biking, among others.
“District 22 can lead the rest of the city toward a sustainable, healthy and equitable future,” Cabán said.
Cabán plans to work with neighborhood, school, faith and other civic leaders in District 22 to set up town halls to establish sustainability needs for each neighborhood.
She said it will “center the voices of impacted communities.”
“We don’t think enough about who we are talking to, because a lot of the conversations that we have about climate justice are being brought to white, upper-middle-class neighborhoods, but what we know is that the climate crisis most deeply affects Black, Brown working-class Americans,” Cabán said. “And this isn’t just about saying that climate justice is racial justice but putting [it] into action. And if we have not 10, but nine years to deal with the climate crisis, then we got like a minute to deal with racism.”
The process for creating action plans, Cabán said, has to recognize environmental harms perpetuated in systemically racist ways and address those harms through reparative and restorative approaches, as well as through forward-facing, equity-focused solutions.
Cabán believes pursuing those solutions can create 100,000 green jobs, prioritize training in impacted communities for those jobs and deliver a care-based economy rooted in sustainability and infrastructure that will help the city be carbon-neutral by 2030.
There are currently seven candidates running to represent District 22, including Leonardo Bullaro, Catherina Gioino, Evie Hantzopoulos, Nicholas Velkov, Felicia Kalan and Edwin DeJesus Jr.