Assemblywoman Rajkumar clashes with community board member during meeting

community board
Community Board 9 heard from Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar at a monthly meeting on Thursday, Feb. 15, who spoke on comments made during another civic meeting.
Photo by Anthony Medina

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar firmly addressed a member of Community Board 9 last week at their monthly meeting on Thursday, Feb. 15, responding to critical comments regarding her alleged lack of presence in the district and her frequent appearances alongside Mayor Eric Adams.

The community board member Victor Starsky, rebuked by Assemblywoman Rajkumar, initially voiced his concerns to Rajkumar’s chief of staff during the 102nd Precinct Community Council Meeting earlier this month.

While Starsky admitted to having been particularly forthright with the staffer during the community council meeting, he also represented the wider concerns of a few others in raising questions about Rajkumar’s involvement and presence in the community.

Starsky asked a series of questions to the legislator’s staffer that placed the Assemblywoman’s recent actions under question and caused Rajkumar to go on the defensive.

“Is Jenifer still on the Mayor’s payroll?” Starsky first asked Rajkumar’s Chief of Staff.

Rajkumar’s Chief of Staff refuted Starsky’s sentiments, clarifying the Assemblywoman has never been on the Mayor’s payroll and further explaining the Mayor is a political ally to Rajkumar.

Shortly thereafter, Starsky went on to further explain that his upset with the legislator comes from wanting her further involved and seen in the community — a point he brought up again at the community board meeting.

“The point that I’m bringing up is, where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?” Starsky asked. “She’s in Staten Island. She’s in the Bronx. She’s with the Rats Czar. She’s with the Mayor, she’s with the Mayor, she’s with the Mayor. She should be in our community, here.”

Starsky’s reference to ‘Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?’ is meant to compare Rajkumar to the fictional character of Carmen Sandiego who, in the game, tv show, and book series, is a spy dressed in red that is chased across the world.

Rajkumar had this to say about Starsky’s questioning:

“I love town halls where I can hear from all people. I applaud Mr. Starsky for expressing himself freely. That is what makes us the greatest democracy in the world. Mr. Starsky is right: I am everywhere, just like Carmen Sandiego. There is a reason I won my seat by the largest margin of any challenger in the entire state,” Rajkumar shared in a statement to QNS. “I have used my reach across the city and state to bring the people of my district the resources they need. I serve my constituents 24/7 because it is my passion. I am proud to have brought unprecedented energy to my district. This is just kind of energetic and effective leadership the people of my district deserve.”

During the board meeting, Rajkumar shut down Starsky whenever he tried to speak during her designated time slot, standing up for her staff and citing the ample time he had used with her chief of staff in their last conversation.

Rajkumar reminded Starsky that her victory in nabbing the Assembly seat came at one of the highest voter turnouts in the district and her connection with the Mayor helps brings resources to her district.

“I think that the way you’re spinning this is not correct,” Rajkumar told Starsky. “I think that I love my job. As you know, I work at this 24/7. And that’s the energy that an elected official should have. You want a real leader here.”

One other topic brought to the Assemblywoman’s attention at the community board meeting involved the City of Yes. Rajkumar initially backed the city initiative, stating it would bring more affordable housing to the area and change decades old zoning text amendments.

However, the disapproval of the City of Yes initiative from other board members, opened the legislator to reconsider her stance on the topic. Rajkumar said she would be open to hearing the board’s disagreements towards the plan.

Update: The following story has undergone revisions to accommodate additional statements.