By Naeisha Rose
City Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) is running for re-election in District 27 against retired Marine and former Police Lt. Anthony Rivers in the Sept. 12 primary.
District 27 represents Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens and Jamaica.
Before he was elected to public office in 2013, Miller was the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 (2009-2013), and the co-chair of the MTA Labor Coalition (2012-2013), which is comprised of 29 unions and 60,000 workers, according to Corey Bearak, his campaign manager.
Miller is a part of the Progressive and Black, Latino/a and Asian Caucus. He is also the chairman of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor and participates on the committees for Contracts, Economic Development, Finance and Transportation.
It’s no wonder that tackling transit issues is one of his main objectives if re-elected. During a Transit Town Hall meeting in late July he described his district as being “a transportation desert still operating on the old trolley line route.”
One of the ways he has tackled that problem was by securing $300 million in the capital budget to rebuild the Jamaica Depot, located at Merrick Boulevard near York College. The depot is 58,000 square feet, houses 200 buses, and runs at 75 percent capacity, according to Miller. This is a project that was 30 years in the making.
“We are excited about that because that bus depot also services about 75 percent of the southeast Queens area,” Miller said.
He wants to put the commuter van industry on notice.
“They are often unsafe, unreliable, inaccessible and affront to Vision Zero,” said Miller, who plans on heavily regulating the industry.
The councilman is also working on a pilot program for a Commuter Rail Equity for the LIRR.
“We are going to ride the Long Island Rail Road with a free transfer for the train or the bus. This will only apply to southeast Queens,” Miller said.
Job creation and homeownership is another aspect of his campaign.
He has worked with the city Economic Development Corporation, the Queens Chambers of Commerce, Greater Jamaica Development Corp. and Small Business Services to help bring jobs to his district.
Through SBS he has started corporate mentorship programs for business owners in his district.
As John F. Kennedy International Airport goes through a $10 billion expansion, Miller has made sure that 30 percent of that money will go toward Minority-Owned Women Business Enterprises entrepreneurs in District 27.
After the Great Recession began in 2008, Miller solicited funds from the City Council, which was matched by the mayor to help give homeowners legal services to prevent them from being kicked out of their homes.
During the recession, 27,000 homes throughout the city were foreclosed on, 9,000 were from the southeast Queens region, according to the Center of NYC Neighborhoods.
When it comes to education, Miller wants to expand Pre-K-for-All. Despite the slight uptick in math scores for city schools, he wants to introduce STEM/STEAM classes to kids as early as pre-school. He also wants more technical classes in high schools and is using his connections with unions to get students internships in those professions during summer break.
Miller also wants to work with the Department of Environmental Protection to mitigate flooding in his district.
“Nearly $2 billion is being spent in southeast Queens in terms of flood mititgation,” Miller said.
While the digging up of the area will be inconvenient, he plans on using this as an economic opportunity to deliver both management, construction, and legal jobs from the project.
(fixing error – MTA Labor Coalition represents 60,000 workers and 29 unions)
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose