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2021 Elections: Who’s running for City Council in the 24th District?

The candidates running for City Council in District 24. (Photos courtesy of campaigns)

After a heated special election in February, the City Council District 24 seat is yet again up for grabs. 

Five candidates are competing to represent Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills and Jamaica on the Council. City Councilman James Gennaro is defending his recently won seat against candidates Moumita Ahmed, Stanley Arden, Mujib Rahman and Mohammed Shabul Uddin. 

Gennaro took office last month after winning about 60 percent of the vote in the city’s first election to use ranked-choice voting (RCV). Ahmed and Rahman both ran against him in the special while Arden and Uddin waited for the general. Former seat holder Rory Lancman stepped down last year to take a job in the governor’s office, triggering the special election. 

Four of the five candidates filed with the New York City Campaign Finance Board returned QNS’ questionnaire. Arden did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

See their responses, listed alphabetically, below. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Moumita Ahmed

City Council candidate Moumita Ahmed (Photo courtesy of campaign)

QNS: What, in your opinion, are the top three most pressing issues in your district?

Moumita Ahmed: The top three most pressing issues in our district are healthcare, housing and economic distress from job loss and local businesses closing down. I am the only candidate with a COVID-19 recovery plan to make sure that New Yorkers can recover from this economic and health crisis. We can’t wait any longer for relief. My priority in the City Council will be getting this full plan implemented as quickly as possible. 

QNS: What aspect of your background speaks best to your abilities as a City Council member?

Ahmed: Living an immigrant life has given me the experiences of humiliation and injustice to understand what our communities need. My family has been exploited working low-wage jobs. I have experienced harassment by bad landlords. My father was arrested under Mayor Bloomberg’s illegal stop-and-frisk policy. I am an organizer, not a politician. When COVID-19 hit, I started the Queens Mutual Aid Network with my neighbors. We provided food and medicine but we couldn’t save jobs, solve hunger or stop people from losing their homes. I want to help people and make sure that every New Yorker lives with justice and dignity. 

QNS: What do you love most about your district?

Ahmed: Our district is one of the most diverse districts in Queens. I loved growing up in this district and going to school with people from all over the world and eating all kinds of food. Doing mutual aid I witnessed firsthand the kindness and humility of the young people who are growing up here helping one another to survive during the pandemic. The best part about this district is that this is the best place to grow up and make friends. 

QNS: Which one of your opponents will you be ranking second on your ballot and why?

Ahmed: Mohammed Uddin. We have both been endorsed by the Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group and I respect the work that Mohammed Uddin has done as a delegate for the union UNITE HERE. 

QNS: What are two concrete ways that you hope to help small businesses in your district?

Ahmed: Small businesses are the pathway to success for many working-class New Yorkers. Immigrant-owned small businesses comprise 48 percent of the city’s small businesses, employ nearly half-a-million people and contribute $195 billion to the city’s GDP annually.

Small businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Many are on the verge of closing. 

If elected I will pass the COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Lease Act, and the Small Business Jobs Survival Act which would provide rent relief for small business and building owners impacted by the pandemic, and create fairer lease terms so small businesses aren’t taken advantage of by landlords. 

James Gennaro (incumbent)

City Councilman James Gennaro (Photo courtesy of campaign)

QNS: What, in your opinion, are the top three most pressing issues in your district?

James Gennaro: The top three most pressing issues are restoring public safety, revamping governance of our public schools, and improving the overall quality of life in the community. 

QNS: What aspect of your background speaks best to your abilities as a City Council member?

Gennaro: No one in New York City has my depth of experience and legislative achievement with the City Council, and no candidate in this race has my record of service to the district’s residents. My proven record of accomplishment and my experience are the difference. 

I’m the Council member for our community. I served from 2002-2013 as well. I served as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Deputy Commissioner for NYC Sustainability, and was an adjunct professor of political science at Queens College. Teaching and mentoring the next generation of leaders is an obligation for me.

QNS: What do you love most about your district? 

Gennaro: I love the diversity of our community. It is truly reflective of the beautiful mosaic that is New York City. My children have been immeasurably enriched by having their formative years shaped by the amazingly vast array of cultures, races, religions that share this special community. 

QNS: Which one of your opponents will you be ranking second on your ballot and why?

Gennaro: I want to learn more about the candidates who will be running once it is known who is actually running. We will know that in late March when the campaigns file their petitions. But I enthusiastically support ranked-choice voting, and I will be ranking five candidates (if there are five candidates) when I vote. 

QNS: What are two concrete ways that you hope to help small businesses in your district?

Gennaro: I’m supporting a bill in the Council that offers small businesses a local version of the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). I will improve quality of life by keeping our streets clean, which will attract more customers to our small businesses. I’ll do this by funding nonprofit service providers to empty liter baskets and remove graffiti. I will use my previous budget experience to help see the city through financial recovery so we can get relief to our small businesses. I will give small business owners a seat at the table so that I can best advocate for them.

Mujib Rahman

City Council candidate Mujib Rahman (Photo courtesy of campaign)

QNS: What, in your opinion, are the top three most pressing issues in your district?

Mujib Rahman: 

  • The dangers of special groups like Common Sense NYC and donors Stephen Ross, Jack Cayre, Isaac Ash.
  • Liberal and socialist politicians (against faith and family values).
  • Lack of diversity in political power.

QNS: What aspect of your background speaks best to your abilities as a City Council member?

Rahman: I fought for the term limit. Why salaried politicians reapplied for the same job? My education and civic, faith, and social activities uniquely qualify me for the position. 

QNS: What do you love most about your district?

Rahman: This is a faith- and family-based (religious and multi-ethnic — Christian, Jewish, Muslim and others) residence. Most conservative district. I love this district.

QNS: Which one of your opponents will you be ranking second on your ballot and why?

Rahman: I do not know yet. I have to see who is on the ballot. But not a socialist or liberal backed by a special group.

QNS: What are two concrete ways that you hope to help small businesses in your district?

Rahman: Business is my choice. Homeowners need help first. Businesses got federal help (PPP), but homeowners got nothing. 

Mohammed Shabul Uddin

City Council candidate Mohammed Shabul Uddin. (Photo courtesy of the campaign)

QNS: What, in your opinion, are the top three most pressing issues in your district?

Mohammed Shabul Uddin: 

  1. Jobs
  2. Navigation of city government and services
  3. Lack of accessible transportation

QNS: What aspect of your background speaks best to your abilities as a City Council member? 

Uddin: I currently serve as the executive director of the Queens Chapter of the Alliance of South Asian American Labor and on the board of directors at Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group. I have lived in the district for 30 years and have achieved tangible results for our community. Some of my accomplishments include creating a pilot program to serve halal and kosher food in New York City public schools and lobbying local leaders to add Eid to the calendar of holidays. I want to expand on my decades-long record of service to District 24 in the City Council. 

QNS: What do you love most about your district?

Uddin: What I love most about District 24 is its embodiment of our city. We live in an incredibly diverse district, where people of all types of backgrounds and cultures, both old and young, live and work with each other. As an immigrant from Bangladesh, this community welcomed me with open arms and I am proud to call it home. I was able to live, work and raise successful children in this neighborhood. Many of my neighbors feel as if that dream is slipping away and I want to give others the opportunity of success that this district has given me. 

QNS: Which one of your opponents will you be ranking second on your ballot and why?

Uddin: I will be ranking James Gennaro second on my ballot. I admire his service and feel as if his sensible, bipartisan approach to issues is lacking among our city government. However, I believe I am the best person to represent us, given our city and district’s changing demographics and current struggles. In such a time of economic uncertainty, we need a Council member who has lived through these experiences and persevered. We need a voice to unite all of our district. I believe I am that voice.

QNS: What are two concrete ways that you hope to help small businesses in your district?

Uddin: Two of the ways I want to help small businesses in my district, and across the city, are by passing the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) and ending licensing. 

The SBJSA would allow small business owners to flourish, by guaranteeing them a ten year minimum lease and prohibiting owners from passing on the cost of property taxes to them. 

Ending licensing would allow tradespeople in our city to re-invest in their business. It is absurd that we are milking working people for these arbitrary fees in these times. Working people are not cash cows for City Hall.

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