Tag Archives: Councilmember Karen Koslowitz

Queens incumbents sweep re-election bids


| editorial@queenscourier.com


LIAM LA GUERRE AND MELISSA CHAN 

All Queens City Council incumbents slid back into their seats after Election Day, some very comfortably, while others overcame contentious races.

In District 32, which pitted Republican incumbent Eric Ulrich against Democrat Lew Simon, the race came right down to the wire. Ulrich was eventually declared the winner with 53 percent of the vote to Simon’s 47, but the challenger has not yet conceded defeated.   

In another contentious race, incumbent Elizabeth Crowley of District 30 won 59 percent of the vote against political newbie Craig Caruana, who took 41 percent. Caruana gained support following an endorsement by mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and a fierce debate with Crowley.

Popular Democratic incumbents Peter Koo of District 20, Karen Koslowitz in District 29 and Mark Weprin of District 23 easily won their re-election bids this year after facing off with third-party candidates.

Koo swept his opponents — Evergreen Chou, Martha Flores-Vasquez and Sunny Hahn — by obtaining nearly 80 percent of the vote, according to a preliminary count. Koslowitz beat Jon Torodash, who ran on the Civic Virtue line, by more than a 90 percent margin.

Weprin, a contender for City Council Speaker, beat back a late challenge from retired police captain Joseph Concannon by taking 84 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

Concannon, who was running under the Reform Party, began a pointed bid against Weprin on August 8, with numerous police union backings, soon after the incumbent voted in support of two controversial police oversight bills in the Council.

South Queens Democratic incumbents Ruben Wills of District 28 and Donovan Richards of District 31 also dominated their races.

Wills won more than 95 percent of votes over his challenger, Mireille Leroy, while Richards, who won a special election less than a year ago, took about 92 percent of votes.

Three Queens legislators ran uncontested in both the primary and general elections. Julissa Ferreras of District 21, Danny Dromm of District 25 and Jimmy Van Bramer in District 26 were all automatically re-elected.

 

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City newsstands may sell higher-priced goods


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Official NYC Council photo by William Alatriste.

The city’s newsstands could become more than just a place to stop for a periodical and pack of gum.

Newly proposed legislation would raise the price limit for selling products at newsstands from $5 to $10 pre-tax.

The City Council increased the maximum price from $2 to $5 in 2001, but prices of in-demand products, such as umbrellas and chargers, have gone up since that time.

The increase will also allow consumers to have more options when it comes to purchasing batteries, earphones, city guides and other products. Newspapers, magazines, periodicals, and prepaid calling or transit cards are exempt from the price limit.

“Over 11 years ago, in his very first bill signing as mayor, Mike Bloomberg gave sidewalk newsstands a raise,” said Counsel to the NYC Newsstand Operators Association Robert Bookman. “Well after 11 years, we need another one. With the support of Speaker Quinn and the Council leadership, this bill will help keep these iconic New York street institutions in business and help them moms and pops that run them make a decent living. There were once over 1,500 sidewalk newsstands in the city–today there are about 300. We want to make sure we don’t lose any more of them.”

Sponsored by Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, the legislation will be introduced to the City Council on May 22.

 

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Queens teen wins prestigious math honors


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

At only 14, Jena Yun knows the equation for success.

The 8th grader at Russell Sage Junior High School is captain of the school’s math team and the only New York City public school student in the National Society of Professional Engineers’ National upcoming Mathcounts competition in Washington, D.C.

She is also the only female in the contest.

“I never really expected it to get this far,” said Yun. “I’m definitely nervous.”

After placing fourth at the state Mathcounts competition in Albany, Yun was selected as one of four team members to compete in the national competition taking place May 9-12. She will work with two students from

Rochester and a student from the Bronx.

“It’s just humbling, it’s amazing,” said William Collins, who coaches Russell Sage’s math team. He added that whatever the outcome, “we’re so proud of her.”

On Monday, May 6, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott gave Yun an award for her success at the state competition. She also received a New York City Council Citation of Honor from Councilmember Karen Koslowitz.

“Behind all of it is studying and trying to get where you want,” Yun said. “It all pays off in the end.”

The middle schooler also received a $1,000 scholarship from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for being the first female to qualify in the competition.

“You hear about Russell Sage because it’s such a great school,” said Walcott. “These students are truly outstanding,”

After graduation, Yun will attend the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. She hopes to follow in her older sister’s footsteps by moving on to Princeton University.

Russell Sage’s math team started up 12 years ago with just three students. The team has since become a “family” with over 50 students from all grade levels.

“It’s just awesome,” said Principal Marilyn Grant. “It’s an unimaginable feeling.”

 

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Jon Torodash explores City Council run against incumbent Koslowitz


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jon Torodash 2013

Jon Torodash wants to bring “Civic Virtue” back to Queens.

The Kew Gardens resident has begun exploring a run as an independent against incumbent Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, a Democrat, for City Council District 29.

Born and raised in Forest Hills, Torodash, 31, returned to Queens about five years ago and said he would run a campaign based on government transparency. This platform, and his decision to possibly run, was inspired by his experience as a local advocate in the last few months.

Torodash, a software engineer, fought to keep the statue “Triumph of Civic Virtue” on Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens.

The effort failed, however, as the statue was hoisted from its pedestal last December. But Torodash said the exposure showed him the inner workings of government and things he wanted to change.

There are three issues that stand out on Torodash’s platform: transportation, safety and education.

Bus transit is one of the biggest problems for District 29, he said, with long waits leaving riders out in the cold. Torodash says he will explore new options, especially around Queens Center mall, including making bus schedules more consistent.

“There are a lot of common sense proposals that need to be looked at here,” he said.

If elected, Torodash said he wants to focus on safety boroughwide.

Torodash runs a test-prep business for teachers and taught Latin and English for three years. He said the Department of Education is unorganized and that the current education system does not empower parents and teachers.

Opting to run as an independent, he hopes his run will inspire other people to seek public office to affect change. While he said he has no quarrels with either the Democratic or Republican party, Torodash said a lack of history with either party might discourage the ordinary citizen from seeking office.

“I think that many people would get discouraged because they don’t have a party history,” he said.

 

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What City Council members wish for their constituents in 2013


| editorial@queenscourier.com

2013

The Queens Courier asked the City Council what they wish for their constituents in 2013. Here are some of the responses:

Speaker Christine Quinn: To help New Yorkers still reeling from Sandy recover fully and quickly, & rebuild New York City to protect New Yorkers from the impact of climate change.

Daniel Dromm: To see comprehensive immigration reform including the Uniting American Families Act (for families headed by same sex couples) and the Dream Act passed by Congress in 2013.

Mark Weprin: My New Year’s wish for my constituents is that a bipartisan spirit will appear in Washington, leading to fiscal sanity and sensible gun laws.

James Gennaro: They should have good health, the comfort and peace of a strong faith, abiding happiness, freedom from want and love and compassion for others.

Jimmy Van Bramer: I wish for my constituents a healthy and happy year full of joy and with far fewer tragedies. I want more understanding and appreciation of our uniqueness as people, a safer world at home and abroad.

Peter Vallone Jr.: I hope for the Queensboro Bridge back, and I hope other boroughs keep their hands off of our stuff.

Eric Ulrich: Health, happiness, and prosperity in the new year and a return to normalcy for those affected by Sandy.

Karen Koslowitz: I wish all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I am hoping that the year 2013 brings new opportunities, friendships and successes for all.

Dan Halloran: I wish my constituents a New Year full of peace, prosperity and a renewed sense of pride in our neighborhoods, as we continue to preserve our community’s character.

Leroy Comrie: I hope that we have a healthy, happy, prosperous, and protective new year. Also that people stay charitable, that we can continue to look out for each other and be supportive of those in need.

 

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Ground broken at Willets Point


| brennison@queenscourier.com

WilletsPt-20w

After years of planning, protests and public hearings, ground was broken at Willets Point — marking the first physical step in the area’s redevelopment.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was joined at the Thursday, December 1 ground breaking by New York City Economic Development President Seth W. Pinsky, New York City Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Councilmembers Julissa Ferreras and Karen Koslowitz, Borough President Helen Marshall and State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

“The development of Willets Point and the benefits that it will provide for the entire city cannot become realities without a multimillion dollar investment in infrastructure improvements that have been needed for many years,” said Marshall.  “Expanding the city’s sewer network and increasing storm water drainage in the area will address longstanding issues and put new development on a firm foundation for the future.”

The infrastructure work is estimated to cost $50 million and will include construction of a sanitary sewer main and reconstruction of a storm sewer and outfall. This phase should be completed in 2013.  The construction will mostly occur between October and March, so as not to interfere during the baseball season with Citi Field which sits next door to Willets Point.

Bloomberg called Willets Point “New York City’s next great neighborhood.”

A plan for the redevelopment of Willets Point was announced by Bloomberg in 2007.  Since that time, the city has been able to acquire nearly 90 percent of the land.  Nine private property owners remain in the projects Phase 1 area, according to the city.

The plan for Phase 1 includes up to 680,000 square feet of retail, up to 400 units of housing — 35 percent of which will be affordable — a hotel, two acres of open space and parking.