Community activist and civil rights attorney Shekar Krishnan launched his campaign for the 25th New York City Council representing Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, a seat currently held by Councilman Daniel Dromm who is term-limited in 2021.
Shekar, a longtime resident of Jackson Heights, outlined his plans to address the triple threat of crises facing the community and improve the lives of Queens residents at a socially-distant gathering at Travers Park with community leaders and supporters.
“New York City is facing an affordability crisis, a racial justice crisis, and a public health crisis that severely impacting our communities of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights,” Krishnan said. “As the neighborhoods at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, it is more important than ever that we have a fighter representing us, someone who has the vision and experience to confront the systemic injustices we face. I have devoted my entire career to fighting alongside vulnerable communities, as a civil rights lawyer, advocating for housing as a human right, and as an activist who has successfully challenged those in power. I’m running because we need to radically restructure New York so it works for everyone.”
Upon his announcement, Krishnan was endorsed by a diverse group of community leaders and activists representing the south Asian, Latinx, and LGBTQIA+ communities in Queens.
“As a transgender person, Latina, and a woman, I am happy to support Shekar on his run for City Council,” Trans Advocate Cecilia Gentili said. ‘It is so important to redefine allyship at this incredibly important time in our history. Shekar has shown an incredible capability and consistent efforts to understand the realities of those he doesn’t share identity with, and that is what it’s going to take for us to make NYC as progressive as we need it to be.”
Krishnan is the co-founder of Communities Resist, a legal services organization that believes in a community-rooted, intersectional approach to addressing housing and racial justice. He represents tenants and neighborhood coalitions in fair housing litigation and anti-displacement advocacy in some of the most gentrified neighborhoods in the city.
Krishnan is the son of immigrants from South India who made enormous sacrifices and worked tirelessly to build a life for their family in the United States. He co-founded the Friends of Diversity Plaza, the space located on the border of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights that has become a national symbol of how public space can bring people together. It now serves a critical function in the neighborhood organizing efforts and building solidarity across communities.
“As a labor leader, community organizer, and proud activist in the South Asian community in Queens, I know Shekar will fight for us,” Union Leader Milan Rahman said. “He is a friend to workers and unions and a fighter for the working people. He is not accepting any corporate money and will never be swayed by powerful corporate interests. I have spent my life in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, and I have seen Shekar first-hand fight for our community. Today is a special and historic day for all South Asian immigrants in our city, who have never seen themselves reflected in the New York City Council.”
Krishnan has organized his neighbors around a number of community initiatives, including educating immigrant tenants on their housing rights; fighting for racial justice and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline; coordinating the collection and delivery of PPE directly to the frontline workers at Elmhurst Hospital at the height of the coronavirus pandemic; advocating for safer streets for children and seniors; demanding far more public school funding; standing with the LGBTQIA+ community to root out hate and intolerance and; mobilizing to protect and expand vital park space in Jackson Heights.
“I have lived and organized in Jackson Heights for many years and Shekar has consistently shown up for his neighbors, from seniors to families to the LGBTQIA community. He is a constant presence, willing to listen and ready to fight,” Community Activist Rhoda Dunn said. “I am so proud to see him announce his candidacy, and excited that our neighborhoods will get the fierce representation we need to move our city forward.”
Krishnan is also the father of two small children, who can often be seen biking or scooting up and down the open 34th Avenue, and husband to Zoe, an immigration public defender and reproductive justice advocate.