A third candidate has emerged to replace Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer when he is term-limited in 2021.
Hailie Kim, 27, an adjunct professor of English at Hunter College, filed her paperwork with the Board of Election last Friday, and she hopes to represent District 26 which includes Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and parts of Astoria.
“My family moved from Seoul, South Korea, when I was six and I really loved growing up in this neighborhood of Sunnyside Gardens,” Kim said. “As a student at P.S. 150, I felt I couldn’t get a better start and I went to high school in Astoria at the Baccalaureate School for Global Education. I have a real passion for education and as soon as I received my U.S. citizenship I decided I would run for office to make the schools in this district even stronger.”
Kim joins civic leader Brent O’Leary and Giselle Burgess, the co-founder of the first Girl Scout Troop for homeless girls when she and her children lived in a Long Island City shelter.
“I think both are incredibly good candidates and it would be an honor to run against them,” Kim said. “Brent and I share a passion for more funding for education and doing something about the escalating rents in Queens and Giselle Burgess did an amazing thing and her story is wonderful.”
Kim believes there is a place for her in the race because of her immigrant experience. In fact, her name would appear on the ballot as Heajin Kim, her legal name.
“When I was 12, I got fed up with my teachers at P.S. 150 mispronouncing my name so I changed it, which a lot of immigrant students do,” Kim said. “But when I was filing to become a citizen I didn’t want to give up my name, officially.”
Kim does not own a car and has suffered with other straphangers over the years before service on the 7 subway line improved.
“There is much that needs to be fixed at the MTA and in the meantime I want to stand up for the Triboro rail line that would connect the Bronx with Queens and Brooklyn,” Kim said. “Like Councilman Costa Constantinides says all the jobs are no longer just in Manhattan. Public transportation that connects the outer borough is more important than ever.”
Kim said she is interested in learning more about the BQX streetcar line that would run along the Queens and Brooklyn waterfront connecting Astoria and Red Hook, Brooklyn.
“It is crucial that there are connections to employment centers in Brooklyn and elsewhere are very important,” Kim said. “But we must be vigilant about displacement and gentrification going forward.”
Also crucial is the lack of affordable housing in Queens.
“Someone has to go up against the real estate developers for the lack of affordable housing,” Kim said. “I look at rent prices now and they are simply not accessible. I remember when Queens was all about the middle class. That is no longer the case.”
She agreed with Van Bramer’s opposition to Amazon building an HQ2 campus in Long Island City.
“I understand people who talk about the 25,000 jobs, but there were no guarantees that they would go to local residents and I didn’t agree with the tax breaks the state and city were offering,” Kim said. “In general, I would say Jimmy Van Bramer accomplished a lot in improving our neighborhoods, especially the number of schools that have been built in the district as well as the extensions to existing schools. But there are things we can do better.”
Kim believes it’s great to fund new school construction but it’s equally important to properly fund them in the future.
“When I went to Baccalaureate we had a great teacher that the school wanted to layoff. We started a petition to keep him but in the end the school couldn’t afford to keep him,” Kim recalled. “And while we were laying off a great teacher, the Frank Sinatra School was getting a huge beautiful building. It’s nice to build schools but in the end it’s about two people. The one being educated and the one doing the educating. We have to keep that in mind when we consider educational funding.”