Eastern Queens City Council candidate pledges to further fund senior transportation program

City Council candidate Debra Markell pledged to continue funding for a free senior transportation program in eastern Queens. (QNS file photo)

City Council candidate Debra Markell is pledging to expand a transportation program that provides seniors with free rides to medical and vaccination appointments.

Entering its fifth year, the initiative provided by Selfhelp Community Services has been supported by $90,000 from Councilman Paul Vallone’s office in addition to $50,000 from Councilman Robert Holden and Speaker Corey Johnson. Markell pledged to allocate a similar figure from her office if elected to expand the program in eastern Queens.

“From COVID-19 to the transportation desert, eastern Queens faces several challenges that would be tackled by expanding this initiative,” Markell said. “Seniors do not have the same technological skills that our COVID-19 vaccination rollout is over-relying on, which is simply discriminatory. I am incredibly grateful to every elected official continuing this program. If elected to the Council, I promise to dedicate my office’s resources to continue this program.”

Markell is running to replace outgoing Councilman Barry Grodenchik in the 23rd District, which represents Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Little Neck, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village. Markell is the longtime district leader of Community Board 2 and she has served as president of the 109th Precinct Community Council and chair of the Flushing Hospital advisory board.

The North Shore Towers resident said her focus would be on senior services programs, transportation issues, championing co-op and condo owners’ rights, public education and public safety

“Debra is deeply committed to improving the quality of life for Queens residents,” Holden said. “There is no one more experienced and qualified to represent the residents of Council District 23 in tackling COVID-19, keeping the city safe and taking care of our seniors. Debra has my full support and I look forward to working with her in the City Council.”

In addition to Holden, Markell’s candidacy has been endorsed by Congressman Tom Suozzi, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, the Asian American Alliance of New York and former Congressman Steve Israel. Markell, who was born, raised and educated in Queens, will face a crowded field of candidates during the 2021 Democratic primary in June.

Five others have announced their candidacy for the City Council seat including: Jaslin Kaur, an organizer from northeast Queens; Linda Lee, the executive director of Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York; Steve Behar, a member of Grodenchik’s staff; Sanjeev Jindal, a public relations official at the India Association of Long Island; and Christopher Fuentes-Padilla, who works in asset protection at Bloomingdale’s.