By Joe Anuta
Former state Assemblyman Rory Lancman is hoping to take the skills he learned in Albany and apply them to the City Council.
The father of three is running for the seat of term-limited City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) that covers Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica Estates, Pomonok, Electchester and a portion of Jamaica and hopes to draw on his experience representing the area in the state Legislature from 2006-12 and his civic activism beforehand.
Lancman was known as a fierce labor advocate in Albany, and was the chair of the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety.
“Most of the work I did before I was in the Assembly was city-level work,” Lancman said in a recent interview, citing his 16 years as a member of Community Board 8 and his time serving on various civic organizations.
On education, Lancman would like to see smaller class sizes and protections against co-locating schools in city buildings, causes he said he already fought for in Albany.
“Jamaica High School is a perfect prism through which to look at that issue,” he said, citing the city’s decision to shutter the institution as an example of failed Bloomberg administration education policies. “The Department of Education let Jamaica High School bleed to death. I thought that was terrible.”
But with a new mayor, chancellor and turnover in the Council, the Hillcrest resident said lawmakers have a real opportunity to alter the course of the DOE’s policies.
The issue of affordability faces all Queens residents whether they are purchasing groceries, paying rent or taking transportation both public and private, Lancman said. The city has slowly divested in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and CUNY — where Lancman went to college — for example, and could do more to offer reasonable rents to low-income New Yorkers.
“I would love for the city to expand affordable housing opportunities. And that includes direct subsidies, loans and grants to people who develop it,” he said, adding that some incentives do not necessarily have to come out of the administration’s coffers, such as requiring affordable housing components for large development projects that need permits or zoning modifications to break ground.
In addition to several neighborhoods, the the 24th Council District also includes a southern portion of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which Lancman said he would be happy to represent.
The former lawmaker is toying with ideas to make the nature preserves surrounding Willow Lake more attractive to the community by offering more outdoor activities.
But other development in the greenspace crosses the line, he said.
Lancman rallied against the original expansion of the United States Tennis Association’s Flushing Meadows tennis center in the early 1990s, and said parkland needs to be legitimately replaced for him to accept the USTA’scurrent proposal to absorb less than an acre into its footprint.
He also does not support a soccer stadium in the park and said he would rather see developers build it in the parking lot of Citi Field where a 1.4-million-square-foot mall is being proposed by the New York Mets.
The Council recently passed two pieces of legislation that would create an inspector general for the NYPD and expand a citizen’s right to sue the department over alleged racial profiling, both of which Lancman supports.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.