By Patrick Donachie
Adrienne Adams, who is challenging state Sen. James Sanders (D-Rochdale Village) in a Democratic primary race to represent parts of southeastern Queens in the state Senate, said her experience in the community is one of the best tools to help her represent constituents in the district.
“I think that, especially in southeast Queens, we’ve been hit hard by corruption when it comes to our elected officials and people are tired. They want someone they can be proud of,” she said. “People realize that I’ve been leading for a long time and are excited to see me take this step.”
Adams has been the chairwoman of Community Board 12, which includes much of downtown Jamaica, since 2012. Prior to her election, she served as head of the board’s Education Committee for four years. Last year, she was appointed by Borough President Melinda Katz to the board of trustees for the Queens Public Library and has also worked in the corporate field.
State Senate District 10 includes parts of Richmond Hill, Jamaica, South Jamaica, South Ozone Park and Springfield Gardens.
Adams said she decided to run for the seat when Sanders briefly decided to challenge U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) for his congressional seat (Sanders’ profile ran in the Sept. 2 issue of the TimesLedger). She said she wanted an ‘open door’ policy with constituents, saying she understood the frustration community members felt when they were not able to reach elected officials about community concerns.
She acknowledged the need to balance the robust development occurring in downtown Jamaica with the concerns community members had about gentrification and increased unaffordability. Adams pointed to the Jamaica NOW Leadership Council, which promotes economic development in the area, as a way for community residents to take the initiative in helping to plot the course for the area’s future.
“That was created to empower the community. That’s the difference between us and Harlem and Brooklyn,” she said, referring to areas she said had suffered from the detrimental effects of gentrification. “We have to make sure that people have a place at the table. We have encouraged the community to come out and be a part of these committees.”
Adams also spoke about the scarcity of resources in district schools and said the state of New York needed to supply the funds owed to the city under the decision on a suit filed by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity asserting that city public schools had been underfunded. Though a state court ruled in favor of the CFE, the money has still not been wholly allocated even after a decade.
“We have to get that money to our children,” she said, noting a particular need for technology that is sorely lacking. “We don’t see that across the board in District 10. Smart boards are in disrepair across the district. Classrooms are in disrepair throughout the district.”
Adams also pointed out a need for criminal justice reform and improved police/community relations, although she noted that Community Board 12 worked well with the 103rd Precinct, which covers downtown Jamaica. She said she was hopeful about the introduction of community policing into the 103rd this fall. The policing practice launched in the 113th Precinct, which covers South Jamaica, last fall.
“We hope to have a say in the way we are policed and the way things are done,” she added, saying the trust gap most in need of mending involved young people and the police. “They’re afraid of police, and they shouldn’t be. But they’re afraid of being victims at any point in the day.”
The Democratic primary will be held Sept. 13.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona