Brent O’Leary, a community leader and attorney, launched his bid for City Council in District 26, which encompasses the Queens neighborhoods of Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and parts of Astoria.
O’Leary currently serves as the president of the board at Woodside on the Move, a nonprofit offering free or low-cost educational programs and tenant advocacy services to approximately 4,000 families per year. The western Queens native also founded the Hunters Point Civic Association, with a mission to stop overdevelopment and advocate for more schools, green spaces and better infrastructure for the Long Island City neighborhood.
In his campaign video, O’Leary said he’s served the district’s community for more than 10 years, and has witnessed how much it has changed — even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over that time, we’ve seen skyrocketing rents, overdevelopment and the displacement of longtime residents. Now, the COVID-19 crisis has brought families to the brink of hunger and eviction,” said O’Leary. “Small businesses, which were struggling long before COVID, are collapsing.”
O’Leary plans to fight for housing justice with true affordable housing, community land trusts and a stop to the privatization of NYCHA.
April Simpson, president of the Queensbridge Tenants Association, endorsed O’Leary for City Council.
“He’s an honest person. He’s been in the community. He will fight for Queensbridge. He will fight for this district,” said Simpson.
Back in 2018, LIC Coalition, a progressive action group working on justice reform, political transparency and voting rights, endorsed O’Leary for the Council seat following his efforts to oppose Amazon HQ2 from settling in Anable Basin.
O’Leary supports the passing of the Small Business Survival Act (SBJSA) and commercial rent regulation. Education reform, health care, senior support, police accountability, immigrant rights and LGBTQIA rights are also part of O’Leary’s platform.
“I believe that the job of a City Council member is to strengthen the community support systems that already exist, find pragmatic solutions to new problems, and make sure that the needs of everyone in our diverse community are met,” he said.
Several community members and organizers were also featured in his campaign video, including Sofi Moncayo, who runs an emergency food pantry at the Mosaic Church in Sunnyside.
“He’s just always involved. He is this community,” said Moncayo.
O’Leary is one of 19 current candidates running for the Council seat that is currently held by term-limited Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.