Hyndman pushing for voter reform

By Naeisha Rose

State Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) does not have a challenger for her district seat, but that doesn’t stop her from meeting with constituents and encouraging them to get to the polling booths on Sept. 13 for the primary.

“I don’t stop working,” Hyndman said in an interview with the TimesLedger editorial staff. She represents Jamaica, St. Albans, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens and Rosedale in the 29th Assembly District.

With the primary date changed to a Thursday this year because Sept. 11 falls on a Tuesday, she thought it was important to not only inform residents about her re-election bid, but about the change in date for the election.

“A lot of constituents weren’t aware of it,” Hyman said in an interview with the TimesLedger editorial staff. “Reminding people to vote on a Thursday has been a challenge, but not impossible.”

If the Democrats win control of the state Senate, one of her hopes is voter reform.

“The New York State Assembly has several bills that died in the Senate, because the Senate Republicans did not want to change any of the rules, such as same day registration, which is important for people who find voting a challenge.

Early voting, an initiative that Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia and Hawaii have adopted, was voted down in the Senate as well.

“An Assembly member from the Niagara County area said ‘if a candidate has some scandal that breaks on Wednesday and you vote on Monday, your vote has already been cast,’” said Hyndman. “That scenario can happen, but at the same time you have to give people from working class communities throughout this state a chance to vote, too.”

With development taking place at John F. Kennedy International Airport, downtown Jamaica, and at Belmont, the assemblywoman wants to make sure the working class residents of her district benefit from it.

Together with state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), City Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) and Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), they discussed making sure that any developers for projects in their districts would come from southeast Queens, that they would have programs for the community and were M/WBE compliant.

A developer who tried to work on property on 168th Street and Archer Avenue was not able to make progress on the development he wanted there until he agreed to meet the demands of the elected officials by being M/WBE compliant, according to Hyndman.

“When they realized we were all on the same page, they decided to say OK and let’s talk about this now,” said Hyndman.

To ensure that the next generations of young adults are able to get the jobs coming to the district, Hyndman wants to do what she can to improve schools in southeast Queens.

“Before I became a legislator I worked in the state Education Department for so long and the career and technology department that I was able to see what jobs are trending,” said Hyndman. “Engineering and 3-D printing are some of the jobs that are really important.”

To give students a taste of those careers she takes kids from the local high schools to field trips to colleges that have strong engineering and technology programs within the state.

“I have six local high schools… and I take them to SUNY New Paltz,” said Hyndman.

As a black woman in politics, she wants to encourage more women of color to run for office.

“Equal pay is important, and when it comes to health and development, black women still have some of the most maternal mortality rates, so it’s important that black and Latino women are running for office to address those things,” she said.

“I do encourage women to run for office, including for judgeships, commissioners, deputies, because all those positions are important and are still heavily male-dominated,” said Hyndman. “I have a lot of young women who work in my office and I want them to be the next Assembly members or commissioners. There is still a lot of work to be done in the state of New York.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.