Councilman Costa Constantinides officially announced he formally declared his candidacy for Queens borough president Tuesday with the promise of a stronger, more equitable, and more resilient Queens in the face of climate change.
Constantinides, who grew up in Astoria, the son of a Cypriot immigrant and an education advocate, will run in a special election if Queens Borough President Melinda Katz defeats GOP candidate Joe Murray in the race for Queens District Attorney, or he’ll run in 2021 when he is term limited out of the City Council.
Constantinides, who crafted the Climate Mobilization Act, which is expected to create nearly 140,000 jobs over the next decade with $20 billion in economic activity, is putting climate, fairness, and protecting the borough as the central issues of his campaign.
“Queens is already on the front lines of climate change. It puts our home, our lives, and our future at risk,” Constantinides said. “We’ve already experienced the threat of extreme weather, when Sandy destroyed huge parts of our beloved borough. That was seven years ago, and Queens is still not ready for the next storm, let alone the rising seas, flooding and extreme hear we’ve already seen.”
Constantinides added he worries about the future of Queens after seeing the massive damage caused by Sandy when it slammed into the Rockaways, Howard Beach and the flooding that took place in Long Island City.
“To protect Queens, the next borough president must have a plan to protect every neighborhood and strengthen our economy, schools and infrastructure,” Constantinides said. “I helped pass a Green New Deal for New York, now we must do the same for Queens. My plan will ensure our sons and daughters inherit a safer Queens with green jobs and a stronger future.”
His campaign will build upon his six-year record for the people of western Queens — where schools, libraries and parks have seen historic investments since he entered office in 2014. Constantinides’ plans bring a renewed vision for Queens by expanding on those victories to create thousands of new green jobs, quality affordable housing and affordable clean energy.
He wants to reinvent the Queens borough president’s office to become more accessible, proactive and transparent and repurpose its role to meaningfully protect Queens residents against rising rents and tides that threaten to displace their communities.
“It’s not just storms, this past summer was the hottest ever recorded and those same sources of pollution cause unhealthy air,” Constantinides said. With an annual budget of $60 million, Constantinides said the borough president’s office can make real investment that protects Queens from Breezy Point to Bayside but he cautioned that rising sea levels could swallow JFK Airport by the end of the century without real action, and more than half of Rockaway’s 120,000 residents could see serious flood damage to their homes in the next 40 years. He also warned that children in southeast and northwest Queens will continue to get sicker from generational pollution by infrastructure located near low-income neighborhoods as well as black and brown communities.
Constantinides added the time is now to transform neighborhoods through truly affordable housing, creating green new jobs, improving the mass transit infrastructure and building new public schools.
“I know we can’t wait to solve these problems,” Constantinides said. “I also understand that taking action on climate can help solve so many issues facing the borough of Queens. Everyone in Queens deserves to live without the fear of rising seas and rising rents.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer has announced his candidacy for borough president, as has former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley. Councilmen Donovan Richards and Paul Vallone are expected to join the race along with Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman who has already filed paperwork to run for the office.