Queens borough president candidates talk local issues and national politics at latest debate

Photo by Dean Moses

Four out of six candidates who are currently running for Queens borough president answered several questions about education, health and the national presidential race during the “Building Queens County’s Future” debate at Queens College on Monday, March 9.

The debate was hosted by the college in partnership with City & State New York, the NAACP New York State Conference Metropolitan Council Queens and WNET’s MetroFocus.

The debate was moderated by MetroFocus host Jenna Flanagan along with a panel comprised of Jeff Coltin, senior reporter at City & State, Candace Prince-Modeste, president of the NAACP Jamaica Branch, and Alice Sardell, an urban studies professor at Queens College.

Councilman Costa Constantinides, former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, retired NYPD Officer Anthony Miranda and former Assistant District Attorney James Quinn were in attendance, but Councilman Donovan Richards and businessman Dao Yin were not.

The candidates talked about several issues during the two-hour-long debate, including community boards, gentrification and transportation.

Photo by Dean Moses

The conversation took a national turn when Coltin asked Quinn about openly supporting President Donald Trump, who only received 22 percent of the vote from residents in Queens in 2016.

“Will tying yourself to the president be a liability to your campaign?” Coltin asked.

Quinn said that he doesn’t know if it will be a liability and that he didn’t “openly” support Trump, but answered a question about who he was voting for when he was asked.

“I’m not running as a Trump candidate, I’m running as a borough president for Queens County. I’m running because I’m concerned about the criminal activity that’s going on in this county, I’m concerned about the trends that I see in crime … and I think those are the things we should be talking about,” Quinn said. “Asking about my position on the president’s race, is just about as relevant as asking what my favorite color is. I think that there are issues in this county that are more relevant then who I support for president.”

After an hour and a half of questions, Coltin asked the candidates who they’re voting for, as there are now fewer presidential candidates then there are Queens borough president candidates. As of Wednesday, March 11, it’s between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Constantinides said that he endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren before she ended her campaign last week, but now endorses Sanders.

Crowley said that she hasn’t endorsed anyone, but anyone who receives the Democratic nomination will get her vote for president. “Anybody but Trump,” she said.

Miranda said he’s endorsed Sanders from the beginning and still does.

Quinn said he’s endorsing “the least socialist candidate in the race.”

To watch the full debate, go to YouTube and search “Building Queens County’s Future: A Debate of the Candidates for Queens Borough President,” or watch it below.