By Naeisha Rose
Oster Bryan, a teacher and civics leader, hopes to reinforce the southeast Queens community as he challenges state Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-Queens Village) in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary.
Bryan teaches at the Long Island Business Institute in Flushing. Additionally, he serves as the president of the St. Albans Civic Improvement Association and is co-president and co-founder of the Cambria Heights Neighbors, Friends and Families Association, a community- based neighborhood organization.
Bryan also holds membership in both the Cambria Heights Civic Association and the St. Albans Civic Association.
Bryan’s main focus is building up the black community in District 33, which includes St. Albans, Hollis, Bellerose, parts of Floral Park and Queens Village. He also hopes to bring a hospital back to the district, improve the local schools, create more jobs and support smaller local businesses.
“Even though we are on the Democratic line we are not running as Democrats,” Bryan said. “We are running as black folks trying to represent a black community. Too often the Democratic Party has pushed black issues to the back burner.”
The district has a population of 130,476 and is 56.7 percent black, 16.8 percent Asian, 10.8 percent Hispanic, 8.4 percent Caucasian, 3.9 percent mixed and 3.4 percent other, according to stati
Bryan believes fixing the school system and creating jobs will help support the black community.
“We haven’t had new school infrastructure in about two decades. However, the best school district — a school district that I used to attend — is in Bayside,” said Bryan, an IS 158 alum.
Bryan said PS 34, IS 59, PS 176, PS 147, PS 118, PS 136, PS 116 and PS 36 are among the schools with air-conditioning problems that need to be addressed, based on PTA meetings he attended.
A report from the School Construction Authority revealed in 2017 that there are 1,178 schools throughout New York City that are without air conditioning, and that the SCA worked on rewiring six buildings to allow for new air conditioners to be installed.
Bryan said “things like air conditioning, something we need to make education comfortable during the summer, were off the table” at a recent Reso A meeting, which discussed how capital funds are going to be spent on auditoriums, gymnasiums, libraries, science labs, playgrounds and other school structures.
“However, Forest Hills High School, which is just as old [as the schools in southeast Queens] rewired the building one year and got air conditioning the next year, but you can’t do that in southeast Queens,” Bryan said. “[Meanwhile], Bayside gets a new school.”
PS 376 opened at the corner of 48th Avenue and 210th Street in Bayside Hills in June, according to the city’s Department of Education.
While he believes there need to be more jobs in the district, Bryan isn’t focused the potential opportunities from the development going on in Downtown Jamaica, Belmont or the John F. Kennedy Airport. Instead, he believes the addition of necessary facilities can help tackle the problem.
“Banks, schools, hospitals — those types of institutions have a larger economic impact to those surrounding areas than any single one-off project by JFK,” said Bryan, who believes that the addition of those types of institutions will help keep money in the community, which would mean more business for local establishments.
“When you have those kinds of things in your community, they create other opportunities and help businesses,” Bryan said. “That is our central objective.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose