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Posts from the "Candidate Interviews" Category

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City Council Candidates on the Issues: Cheryl Keeling, District 11

We continue our series on City Council candidates with a Q&A with track coach and businesswomman Cheryl Keeling, who’s running to represent District 11, covering Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Woodlawn, and Norwood in the Bronx. Tuesday we ran a Q&A with Andrew Cohen, who serves as a CB 8 member and legal advisor to Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz; tomorrow we will run replies from activist and food wholesaler Clifford Stanton. Candidate Ari Hoffnung, a deputy city comptroller, told Streetsblog that he does not reply to questionnaires.

City Council District 11 candidate Cheryl Keeling. Photo: Shelley Keeling/Facebook

Streetsblog: Riverdale was one of the first neighborhoods in New York to receive Slow Zone treatments from DOT, and an application is underway for Norwood. In your view, has the Slow Zone program been successful? Where else could it be considered in the district?

Cheryl Keeling: Yes, the Riverdale Slow Zone treatments have been effective in reducing the potential for vehicular accidents and fatalities and bringing awareness to the population and the community being served by the zone. A street that borders two districts that is in desperate need of a slow zone is 228th Street between Broadway and Marble Hill Avenue. This was the topic of much discussion at a town hall meeting at St. Stephen’s Church with Senator Espaillat and others in March. The residents said that the cars speed around the corners as they use that street to avoid Broadway traffic. Because the street is so wide many times it is difficult for old people and women with carriages to get across before a car is upon them. A Slow Zone would force a break in the velocity and raise the level of consciousness of those behind the wheel.

SB: Select Bus Service has led to faster bus speeds on Fordham Road. Do you want dedicated bus lanes and other service improvements for bus riders elsewhere in the district, and if so, where?

CK: Dedicated bus lanes lead to faster speeds and have an overall impact of reducing traffic congestion. This is an improvement for riders and could be a more efficient system in areas that are densely populated, such as many of the arteries that feed into Webster Avenue in the area of Gun Hill Road and Montifiore Hospital. Surveys and community questionnaires would be a helpful tool in making a determination of other routes that could benefit from such service.

SB: The Parks Department is planning to pave the Putnam Line rail-trail in Van Cortlandt Park, to connect with the paved trail in Westchester County. Is this a project you support or oppose? Why?

CK: As a triathlete I love uninterrupted scenic trails including the Westchester trail, but I really love Van Cortlandt Park where I run and train in the hills and take in all that is the Northern Bronx’s most beautiful collection of nature’s finest commodities. Unless it was clear that this in some way was helpful to the park and an enhancement to the public, I would be inclined to oppose paving. We have enough asphalt, concrete and brick.

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City Council Candidates on the Issues: Andrew Cohen, District 11

Streetsblog continues our series on City Council candidates with a look at the race for District 11 in the Bronx, which covers Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Woodlawn, and Norwood. The seat has been held by Oliver Koppell, who is term-limited, since 2002.

City Council District 11 candidate Andrew Cohen. Photo: Cohen for Council

Four Democratic Party candidates are vying for the seat: Andrew Cohen, an attorney who also serves as a CB 8 member and legal advisor to Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, deputy city comptroller Ari Hoffnung, track coach and businesswoman Cheryl Keeling, and activist and food wholesaler Clifford Stanton.

Streetsblog sent questionnaires to the campaigns to get a better understanding of where the candidates stand on transit, traffic safety, and transportation policy. We begin in alphabetical order with responses from Andrew Cohen and will run answers from Cheryl Keeling and Clifford Stanton in separate posts. Ari Hoffnung told Streetsblog that he does not reply to questionnaires.

Streetsblog: Riverdale was one of the first neighborhoods in New York to receive Slow Zone treatments from DOT, and an application is underway for Norwood. In your view, has the Slow Zone program been successful? Where else could it be considered in the district?

Andrew Cohen: The Slow Zone in Riverdale is still being implemented as I write (new street painting was just installed indicating the 20 mph speed limit in the slow zone). It has been successful in slowing down traffic and has made travel in the zone unquestionably safer. The proposed Slow Zone in Norwood is well conceived and if approved, will go a long way to calming traffic in an area with desperate need for such measures. As you know, Slow Zones need to conform to DOT specifications and I have not studied whether other areas in the 11th Council District would  be eligible for a Slow Zone but there are numerous areas in the District that are in need of traffic calming measures including Webster Avenue and the surrounding area.

SB: Select Bus Service has led to faster bus speeds on Fordham Road. Do you want dedicated bus lanes and other service improvements for bus riders elsewhere in the district, and if so, where?

AC: Yes. Bus Rapid Transit has potential application all over the Bronx. Dedicated bus lanes are scheduled to be installed on Webster Avenue and I believe it will significantly improve service and reduce congestion and travel times for bus passengers.

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City Council Candidates on the Issues: Daniel Peterson, District 22

We continue our series on City Council candidates with a Q&A with former New York Young Republican Club President Daniel Peterson, who’s running to represent District 22, covering Astoria, Ditmars-Steinway, and northern Jackson Heights. Yesterday we ran a Q&A with Democratic District Leader Costa Constantinides. There are two other candidates in this district. Antonio Meloni responded to Streetsblog’s questionnaire but did not provide answers for publication. Danielle De Stefano did not respond.

City Council District 22 candidate Daniel Peterson. Photo: Daniel Peterson/Facebook

Streetsblog: A proposal for a pedestrian plaza at 30th Avenue, 33rd Street and Newtown Avenue was defeated by opposition from Community Board 1 and Council Member Vallone. Do you think public plazas, like the ones installed in other neighborhoods throughout the city, provide a benefit to the community?

Daniel Peterson: I welcome proposals for additional public space in Astoria and throughout New York City. As councilman, I will listen to new proposals for areas of Astoria that can potentially be transformed into new public space. I will also make sure all the pros and cons are thoroughly vetted. The democratic process may not grant every proposal, but we should certainly look for alternative options that can improve our public space.

SB: Astoria Boulevard is slated to receive Select Bus Service improvements to speed bus travel. Could other parts of the neighborhood benefit from things like dedicated bus lanes?

DP: Other parts of Astoria would most certainly benefit from dedicated bus lanes. If 21st Street is an option, I would definitely look at such a proposal. The real question is: Can other parts support dedicated bus lanes? Unfortunately, Astoria’s street grid does not support many options for dedicating a section of road for a bus lane as our roads are just not wide enough. However, I am open to any improvements for our public transportation.

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City Council Candidates on the Issues: Costa Constantinides, District 22

Streetsblog continues our series on City Council candidates with a look at the race for District 22 in Queens, which covers Astoria, Ditmars-Steinway, and northern Jackson Heights. The seat has been held by Peter Vallone, Jr. since 2002; he is now running for Queens Borough President.

City Council District 22 candidate Costa Constantinides.

Two Democratic primary candidates – Democratic District Leader Costa Constantinides and anti-crime activist Antonio Meloni – are joined by a Republican candidate, former New York Young Republican Club President Daniel Peterson. Danielle De Stefano is also listed as a candidate by the New York State Board of Elections.

Streetsblog sent questionnaires to the campaigns to get a better understanding of where the candidates stand on transit, traffic safety, and transportation policy. We begin in alphabetical order with responses from Costa Constantinides and will run Daniel Peterson’s answers in a separate post. Antonio Meloni responded to Streetsblog’s questionnaire, but did not provide answers for publication. Danielle De Stefano did not respond.

Streetsblog: A proposal for a pedestrian plaza at 30th Avenue, 33rd Street and Newtown Avenue was defeated by opposition from Community Board 1 and Council Member Vallone. Do you think public plazas, like the ones installed in other neighborhoods throughout the city, provide a benefit to the community?

Costa Constantinides: Generally, I think that public plazas provide tangible benefits to their neighborhoods. With a few exceptions, many of the communities in western Queens don’t have park space within walking distance. Without shared public spaces where friends and neighbors can congregate, a community has no place to vent and breathe. As a Council member, I will work with the community to create more public spaces that meet the needs of both residents and small business owners.

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Council Candidates on the Issues: Yetta Kurland, District 3

In anticipation of primary day on September 10, we continue our series on City Council candidates with a Q&A with civil rights lawyer Yetta Kurland, who’s running to represent District 3. The district covers Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, and the West Village, and it’s currently represented by Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Yesterday we posted responses from District 3 candidate Corey Johnson. A third candidate, Alexander Meadows, did not respond.

City Council District 3 candidate Yetta Kurland. Photo: Yetta Kurland/Facebook

Streetsblog: Protected bike lanes on 8th and 9th Avenues involved extensive planning efforts with CB 4. Does the district benefit from the bike lanes and pedestrian islands? Would you like to see similar treatments on other avenues in the district?

Yetta Kurland: Protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands are a benefit to the Lower West Side in a number of ways. Most prominently, bicycle safety, traffic calming, shortened pedestrian crossing distance and reduced particulate emissions. The most urgent need for bicycle lanes in Manhattan is currently on 5th/6th Avenues, as bicycle transit is still dangerous in the middle of the island.

SB: The City Council will soon vote on changes to the Manhattan Core parking regulations. What direction would you like to see off-street parking policy take in the future?

YK: While I firmly believe that new development should take the holistic needs of the community into account, parking is not the right need to start with. New development should include affordable housing, access to adequate school seats, community oriented retail and more. The focus on parking stymies those other goals, and is out of touch with the culture of Manhattan.

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City Council Candidates on the Issues: Corey Johnson, District 3

Campaign season in New York is already well underway. And when New Yorkers vote in the primary election on September 10, it won’t just be for the next mayor. They’ll also be choosing City Council members, borough presidents, the comptroller, and the public advocate.

In a series of candidate interviews, Streetsblog will be focusing on contested City Council races. In addition to proposing and voting on legislation, council members recommend Community Board appointees and occupy a powerful bully pulpit that can make or break proposals for safer streets and effective surface transit. Witness Dan Dromm’s support for “Diversity Plaza” in Jackson Heights, Melissa Mark-Viverito’s advocacy for East Harlem protected bike lanes, and Brad Lander’s defense of the Prospect Park West bike lane. Conversely, look at Peter Vallone, Jr.’s obstruction of a pedestrian plaza in Astoria, or the bellyaching from Staten Island’s Vincent Ignizio that’s made it harder for bus riders to use Select Bus Service.

City Council District 3 candidate Corey Johnson. Photo: Corey Johnson/Facebook

On the West Side, three Democratic City Council candidates — Community Board 4 Chair Corey Johnson, civil rights lawyer Yetta Kurland, and Community Board 2 member Alexander Meadows — are vying to replace Christine Quinn, who is vacating the District 3 seat she first won in 1999. The district covers Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and the West Village, an area that has been a hotbed of livable streets progress, from protected bike lanes to pedestrian plazas to parking reform.

Streetsblog sent questionnaires to the campaigns to get a better understanding of where the candidates stand on transit, traffic safety, and transportation policy. We begin in alphabetical order with responses from Corey Johnson and will run Yetta Kurland’s answers in a separate post. Alexander Meadows did not respond.

Streetsblog: Protected bike lanes on 8th and 9th Avenues involved extensive planning efforts with CB 4. Does the district benefit from the bike lanes and pedestrian islands? Would you like to see similar treatments on other avenues in the district?

Corey Johnson: I was proud to partake in the Community Board 4 planning efforts that resulted in the bike lanes and street redesign including sidewalk expansions and on-street bike parking. There are still areas with outstanding safety concerns that I will continue to push DOT to address but I stand behind dedicated bike lanes as part of a more comprehensive plan that includes increasing mass transit options, reducing congestion, and enforcing traffic laws for cyclists, as well as for cars and trucks.

SB: The City Council will soon vote on changes to the Manhattan Core parking regulations. What direction would you like to see off-street parking policy take in the future?

CJ: In July 2012, I wrote a letter to City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden expressing the opinion of CB 4 that opening accessory parking to transient public use will negatively affect the pedestrian safety and quality of life in residential districts and encourage the building of excessive parking capacity. We need to reinforce the current market trends towards reduced parking demand and increased transit use, rather than add to parking availability that encourages driving and car oriented development and undermines the clean air and health objectives of PlaNYC 2030.

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