Tiffany Cabán, the progressive former public defender who shook up the Queens district attorney’s race in 2019 and is now running to represent Astoria in the City Council, has outraised her fellow candidates in fundraising efforts.
The 33-year-old, queer Latina raised more than $85,000, according to her Jan. 15 filing, her first since launching her campaign for City Council District 22 (which also encompasses parts of East Elmhurst, Woodside and Jackson Heights). In less than four months, Cabán raised funds from about 1,700 donors — nearly 70 percent of whom gave $25 or less.
Cabán told QNS her campaign has the benefit of building on the work they were already doing, and breathed a sigh of relief when she met her fundraising goal in order to now focus on engaging with the community.
“I am completely humbled by the level of grassroots support we have received in our movement for working families here in District 22,” Cabán said. “This campaign is truly people-powered and running off of small dollar donors. I cannot thank the New Yorkers who are throwing down with us enough. I am running for New York City Council to end the carceral system, create a care economy and bring a Green New Deal to our city. The people of Queens want transformative, revolutionary solutions that are scaled to truly fit the needs of our city. Our movement is growing, and together we are going to create a New York City that centers working families.”
Cabán is running to replace longtime Councilman Costa Constantinides, who is term-limited. She’s been endorsed by many western Queens officials, including Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, State Senators Michael Gianaris and Jessica Ramos, as well as Assembly members Zohran Mamdani and Jessica González-Rojas. She’s also endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, 1199 SEIU, Make the Road Action, VOCAL-NY Action Fund and 21 in 21, among others.
Cabán’s campaign says they qualify for the full $168,888 in public matching funds available from the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s (CFB) program. The final amount of funds won’t be finalized until after the CFB’s audit and funds disbursement on Feb. 16.
To qualify for the program, candidates must raise at least 75 contributions from their district’s residents and $5,000 in match-eligible funds. They can then receive $8 for every eligible dollar they raise. Candidates must also meet individual contribution limits and not take money from corporations, limited liability companies or partnerships.
Cabán, who’s running a grassroots campaign, prefers it that way. She isn’t accepting donations from police unions or corporations.
“It’s about accountability, to show who you’re in partnership with,” she said.
Cabán outraised the five other candidates by more than $40,000. She also received more donations from outside of New York City than the other candidates, with about $24,000 from 403 donors, according to the campaign filing.
After 2019’s DA race where she came within a few dozen votes of beating now-DA Melinda Katz, Cabán worked with the Working Families Party as a national political organizer to help elect progressive and decarceral prosecutors across the country.
But with 259 donors who live in District 22, 544 donors who live in Queens and a total of about 1,300 donors who live in the city, Cabán noted their fundraising shows “deep community support.”
“Increasingly people are understanding how interconnected our struggles are from coast to coast, and everywhere in between,” Cabán said. “New York City Council oversees one of the largest municipal governments in the country. Our Council can and should be a model for what is possible.”
Cabán said that while COVID-19 has made connecting to voters and community members harder, she’s encouraged by the peer organizing and group of more than 250 volunteers who’ve signed up to help.
“We did so much last time around in person, but at the same time the conversations are different,” Cabán said. “We need relief in the immediate [time], but also need to invest and create sustainable structures so we are better supporting our communities in the long-term.”
One of the next big steps for candidates will be petitioning, which is unclear how it’ll move forward given the ongoing pandemic. In the meantime, Cabán launched two weeks of actions around ranked-choice voting as well as the current state of the pandemic and vaccine rollout.
“We’re in a crisis on a bunch of different fronts. People are looking for and demanding solutions scaled to the problems,” Cabán said. “Campaigns are vehicles for organizing. We’re setting goals for increasing civil engagement.”
Two other City Council District 22 candidates already received public matching funds in December based on their filings from July 2020: community activist and Community Board 1 member Evie Hantzopoulos received $97,189 and education leader Leonardo Bullaro received $116,082.
Nicholas Velkov, Edwin DeJesus and Felicia Kalan are also in the run for City Council District 22. Kalan is running as a Republican.