By Naeisha Rose
State Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-Queens Village) is hoping to fend off a challenge from fellow Democrat Oster Bryan in his bid for re-election in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary.
Vanel, who represents District 33, which covers St. Albans, Hollis, Bellerose, parts of Floral Park and Queens Village, is campaigning to better educate students to create more jobs, tackle quality-of-life issues, and retain and attract small business and new technology to southeast Queens.
Bryan serves as the president of the St. Albans Civic Improvement Association and is co-president and co-founder of Cambria Heights Neighbors, Friends and Families Association, a community based neighborhood organization. Bryan also holds membership in both Cambria Heights Civic Association and St. Albans Civic Association.
When it comes to the Specialized High School Admissions Test, Vanel is in favor of keeping the exam and wants to see more funding for minority schools in his district so that black and Latino students can compete on an even playing field in order to attend elite high schools like their Asian and White peers.
“I don’t agree with getting rid of the exam, because we have to prepare our next generation for where they are going…these high level competitive colleges use the exam as a factor,” Vanel told members of the TimesLedger Newspapers editorial staff.
To help students in his district qualify for an elite school he sponsored their practice exams, which would have cost their families up to $2,000.
The bigger issue is the lack of funding for schools in black and Latino neighborhoods, according to Vanel. Public schools are currently owed upwards of $2 billion, which was supposed to be allocated from the state after a lawsuit in the mid-’90s called into question the lack of quality at these institutions.
“We have to make sure that we equitably fund the schools across the state,” said Vanel. “
Vanel thinks that black and Latino students are capable of succeeding on the SHSAT, but the lack of funding for their schools is like “having one hand tied behind your back in a boxing match,” the assemblyman said.
He also believes the way the money is spent is of the utmost importance.
“You can’t throw good money at bad issues,” said Vanel. “We have to make sure the funding is spent properly…and equitably throughout the city.”
He wants the programs that are pushed to be ones the kids can use to translate into skills as an adult.
As the president of the Black Pilots of America, Inc., Vanel is intent on encouraging more children in his district to consider aviation careers — or if not that, then fields in arts and technology.
“I helped sponsored a program where kids can fly drones…and at Cambria Heights Library there’s an arts initiative I funded for podcasting, learn to use audio and how to use cameras.”
With development going on at Belmont, John F. Kennedy International Airport and Downtown Jamaica, he wants to ensure that those living within his district get jobs from these endeavors without the new businesses having a negative impact in his district.
“We got to make sure the changes are environmentally friendly to our district. There are going to be at least 40 home games from the hockey stadium [at Belmont]” said Vanel. “We got to make sure that there is job opportunity and career opportunity from these developments.”
The New York Islanders had made a bid for an underused parking space last year near the Belmont Racetrack. Their proposal for an 18,000-seat arena was chosen in 2017.
Some of the quality-of-life issues he wants to tackle are getting rid of potholes and making sure the streets in his district are paved over correctly, preventing tractor trailers from taking up parking spots, and supporting seniors anyway he can with housing.
“Where we are there are a lot of single-family residential homes, but we do have churches that are creating affordable housing,” said Vanel.
He visits seniors who remain at home to see how they are doing, and wants to help seniors taking care of adult children with disabilities.
Vanel also hopes to attract business investment to New York with block-chain technology to better help his community.
Blockchain is a distributed database available to the public that has no centralized location. Thus information on it can’t be corrupted by hackers, according to block
“One of the bills that I have provides financing and tax incentives to businesses with five people or less that operate with blockchain technology,” said Vanel. “I just think I have something to offer the community.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose