Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke in support of District 22 City Council candidate Tiffany Cabán, saying she will make the city safer and improve lives overall, at a rally in Astoria Park on Saturday morning, June 12.
On the first day of early voting, a group lead by Cabán, Ocasio-Cortez and other elected officials went out into the neighborhood to encourage people to head to their early voting sites. Before leaving to knock on doors, the crowd of about 50 people heard from Ocasio-Cortez, Cabán and Jumaane Williams, who’s also up for re-election as Public Advocate.
Ocasio-Cortez spoke to Cabán’s experience as a public defender, saying that she’s the candidate to help make the city safe without a bloated police budget.
“[Cabán’s] voice, especially on public safety, is so critically important because she can draft and help advance the policies necessary so that we do not have a carceral city,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “With her experience as a public defender, she will be able to bring that to New York City, it will make our city safer and it will make our lives better, with Tiffany Cabán on City Council.”
Public safety was a focus of the rally. Ocasio-Cortez made sure to mention the success rate of the Stand Up to Violence program, which works to reduce violence by treating it as a public health issue.
Ocasio-Cortez said the program reduces recurrences of violent incidents by more than 50 percent.
“Taking a public safety and investment approach to our communities is more effective at reducing violence than almost any policing strategy that we know of,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The program screens and treats patients who arrive with wounds related to a violent crime and then brings in a social worker, therapist and community leader to speak to the victim in hopes of preventing retaliation.
Cabán spoke to the issues Ocasio-Cortez touched on, saying she can make the difference that people of New York City want to see.
“We are at the intersection of multiple crises, from a global pandemic, from a police violence pandemic to a climate crisis,” Cabán said. “Yes, I am running to run to trim your trees, to fill the potholes, to pick up the trash. I am also running to make sure when we are looking at the most powerful municipal government in our country, with a massive budget, that we are using it to uplift the most marginalized.”
Cabán, who’s backed by the Democratic Socialists of America and a slew of local organizations, said her and her team have reached out to more than 100,000 potential constituents around Astoria and Rikers Island as well as parts of Jackson Heights, Woodside and East Elmhurst. She said connecting with the people of District 22 is essential.
“When I knock on a door, and I talk to my neighbor, and they tell me their story, and I tell them mine, we are now connected — that is how we make change,” Cabán said. “We need bold, transformative policy, but it is nothing without our stories.”
Francesco Mollica, an Astoria resident, came out to the rally to support Cabán and participate in the “get out the vote” effort. Mollica said he hopes Cabán can make a difference in the NYPD police budget and redirect those funds to education.
“[Cabán is] for the people who are often not advocated for at the top of our government in our city,” Mollica said. “She strikes me as a genuine person that is committed to the cause of helping those who are less fortunate.”
There are a total of six candidates on the Democratic primary ballot for District 22, including Leonardo Bullaro, Catherina Gioino, Evie Hantzopoulos, Nicholas Velkov and John Ciafone.
Early voting started June 12 and will continue through June 20. To find your polling site, visit the Board of Elections website at findmypollsite.vote.nyc.