By Gina Martinez
City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) said he wants to continue to improve the quality of life in his district if he is re-elected.
Lancman is facing challenger Muhammad Rahman, a former supervisor in the city Department of Social Services, in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary to represent Council District 24, which covers Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood and Jamaica.
Rahman has criticized the councilman, saying that the absence of discretionary funding from the City Council for youth programs at any of District 24’s many mosquespromotes Islamophobia.
Lancman said Rahman’s claims are false and are due in part because he “doesn’t understand the way that city funding is channeled”
According to Rahman, in 2017 District 24 was allocated about $710,000 for Lancman to distribute to not-for-profits. Rahman said City Council finance records show that only about $40,000 of that money went to organizations serving the South Asian community in the Jamaica section of the district. But Lancman said in 2017 he directed $282,490 in funding for the Bangladeshi community in Jamaica Hills with $49,000 in funds from the non-profit India Homegoing to the Desi Senior Center at Jamaica Muslim Center.
“There are 60,000 diverse people in this district from every corner of the globe,” he said last week. “They speak more languages than I can count, follow every faith and come from different socio-economic backgrounds. I represent everybody zealously, I was recently endorsed by all the leadership of South Asian community, I’m proud of all the work I’ve been able to do for that community.”
Lancman said he believes his experience is what gives him an upper hand over Rahman.
“Not only am I the incumbent candidate,” he said. “Before that I was in the state Assembly, before that the community board for 16 years. It’s not simple being able to work for city government for constituents’ benefit, competing for resources with 50 other Council members. You would d have to make a really compelling case you could do that better than I have.”
Lancman said the people in his district want city services to work.
“They pay high taxes and they want to make sure schools are getting resources they need,” he said. “That means new computer labs, wiring in the air conditioning, among other things. That’s the main job of a Council member — taking care of the delivery of city services — and if you’re able to have broader legislative impact, that’s a positive, too.”
Lancman said the biggest issue in his district are quality-of-life problems.
“We care relentlessly about improving the quality of life in the neighborhoods, “ he said. “For different neighborhoods that means different things. I just did a ribbon-cutting for a new library in Kew Gardens the other day. We want to make sure crime in the district stays down and that parks are maintained. We spent a lot of money out of the budget for street cleaning services. What I’m focused on and good at is the nitty-gritty of delivering services to a district as diverse as this one and it takes a lot of work and there is more we can do.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart