City Council District 27 - Democratic Primary

 

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Preferred Candidate - Clyde Vanel - Dem
Age: 39 Occupation: Attorney, Vanel Law Firm, Trademarkready.com
Education: BS (name of degree-granting institution not provided); Boston University (JD)

Clyde Vanel, an attorney and an entrepreneur, has previously run for office in 2009, 2010, and 2012. With the Council passing legislation to increase term limits in 2008, Vanel decided to run against incumbent Leroy Comrie in City Council District 27. Although only receiving 38% of the vote, Vanel claims he learned a lot from this campaign and established a solid voting base in southeastern Queens. With a genuine interest in government reform and a focus on opening the democratic process, Vanel seemed to have a keen interest in supporting our agenda. His top reform issue is election reform including recruiting municipal workers to serve as poll workers, early voting, modernizing poll books and addressing long lines at the polls. He also supports participatory budgeting, and wants to create a new system for allocating discretionary funding. Aside from reform, Vanel wants to focus on jobs, education, and creating better community programs throughout southeastern Queens. Despite entering the race later than many of his opponents, Vanel has fared well in terms of fundraising so far and he claims to have a strong grassroots campaign that will be a vital factor in his campaign. Citizens Union feels that Vanel is thoughtful and committed to government reform. We therefore prefer him in this race.

  
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 Joan Flowers - Dem
Age: 65 Occupation: Lawyer, Small Business Owner
Education: St. John’s University (BS); St. John’s University Law School (JD)

Joan Flowers, a lawyer and small business owner, has been an active community worker in southeastern Queens for many years and has worked for Representative Gregory Meeks. As a lawyer she represented community interests, and is seeking election as a voice for the underprivileged. Flowers demonstrates an understanding of reform issues, and campaign finance, discretionary funding, and bundling of contributions are three areas she would prioritize reforming. Flowers supports discretionary funding, but believes its allocation needs to be made more equitable and account for need, and that the attorney general’s office should provide additional oversight. She believes lobbyists should be prohibited from bundling contributions for candidates. Aside from reform issues, Flowers wants the city to acquire more education funding, increase health care clinics through Obamacare funds, and improvement the oversight and implementation of the stop, question, and frisk program. Although knowledgeable on the issues, too many questions have been raised about Flowers’ role in connection to transgressions of elected officials for which she worked, which prevent us from preferring her candidacy.

  
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Greg Mays - Dem
Age: 50 Occupation: Non-Profit Executive, A Better Jamaica, Inc.
Education: Howard University (BBA); Harvard Business School (MBA)

Greg Mays is a community activist and the founder and executive for A Better Jamaica, Inc. He has been involved in the community for years through his non-profit organization. Mays is seeking election to advocate for the non-profit organizations in Southeastern Queens. He is largely unfamiliar with good government issues but would like to improve registration at city agencies. He wants to end racial profiling that is a result of what he calls “lazy policing” in the form of stop, question and frisk. Mays is largely focused on the improvement of non-profit organizations in southeastern Queens, and leveraging non-profit organizations to improve education and service delivery. For example, he wants to use high school students to tutor elementary school children. While Mays’ work with his non-profit organization is admirable, he lacks knowledge of government reform and therefore we cannot back his candidacy.

  
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I. Daneek Miller - Dem
Age: 52 Occupation: President, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056; Bus Driver, MTA NYC Transit Queens Bus Division; Co-Chair MTA Labor Coalition
Education: Research Institute at City College and the National Labor College

Daneek Miller is a community and labor activist and has lived and worked in southeastern Queens for more than 25 years. If elected, Miller believes he can provide a voice for labor and the working people of New York and navigate city government. On reform issues, Miller’s priorities are participatory budgeting and decentralizing power in the City Council to rank-and-file members. He believes city agencies need to be more transparent particularly the contracts of the Department of Education. Beyond reform issues, Miller would seek more education funding and create jobs through leveraging the district’s transportation hubs to attract business. Although Miller has strong backing from labor and a well-conceived campaign strategy, Citizens Union feels his positions on government reform need to be more developed to earn our support.

   
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Sondra Peeden - Dem
Age: 42 Occupation: Currently on leave from the City Council
Education: Marymount Manhattan College (degree not reported)

Sondra Peeden has lived in her district in St. Albans, Queens all her life. She is very familiar with the community and, before she even graduated, became involved in public service. She has worked for several different Councilmembers and believes she would not have to learn on the job if elected. On reform issues, Peeden supports discretionary funding but believes in greater oversight of funds and is open to participatory budgeting. She thinks City Council committee chairs should be able to move forward legislation and hold hearings on bills without the speaker’s consent. Beyond reform, Peeden is concerned about families displaced by the recent foreclosure crisis. She also wants to foster light manufacturing and green jobs through rezoning and retrofitting abandoned buildings. Peeden is opposed to mayoral control of schools believing it is worse than the former Board of Education. Despite Peeden’s knowledge of reform issues, her campaign is just getting off the ground and its viability is questionable.
 

 


Manuel Caughman - Dem
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Candidate could not be scheduled for an interview