Queens Borough President Primary 2020: Meet Elizabeth Crowley

Maya Kaufman

QUEENS, NY — Queens Democrats will get to cast a ballot Tuesday in a collection of local, state and federal primary races — including the primary election for borough president, a position that opened up after former Queens Borough President Melinda Katz took office as Queens district attorney at the start of the year.

The winner of the primary election will face Queens GOP Chair Joann Ariola in November's general election to determine who will serve as borough president for the remainder of Katz's term, which is up at the end of 2021.

Borough presidents oversee major land-use decisions and control a multimillion-dollar budget to support local organizations. They also appoint members of community boards, the City Planning Commission and community education councils, which govern school districts along with the local superintendent.

The primary election on June 23 is open to registered Democratic voters. Voters who requested an absentee ballot must send it in by the date of the election for the vote to get counted.

Click here to find your poll site. Early voting is available from June 13 to June 21.

Patch reached out to all candidates in the race for borough president to create these profiles. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

Elizabeth Crowley

Neighborhood of residence: Glendale

Family: Sons Dennis and Owen

Education: B.A. from Fashion Institute of Technology, M.C. in City & Regional Planning from Pratt Institute

Does anyone in your family work in politics or government? Yes

Occupation/experience:

  • Worked to help small businesses in the aftermath of 9/11
  • Worked as a restorative painter on many of New York’s landmarks — including Radio City Music Hall, The Central Synagogue, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Founded Friends of the QNS, a nonprofit advocacy organization
  • In 2017, co-founded the 21 in ’21 Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to empowering women with the tools and resources to run for local office

Current and/or previous elected positions:

First female and only Democrat ever elected to the 30th District of the New York City Council, Chair of the Fire & Criminal Justice Committee.

Campaign website: www.elizabethcrowley.com

Why are you running for borough president?

I am running because Queens deserves its fair share. For too long we have lacked the services and investments in healthcare, education, transit, and social services. A borough planner needs to be a master planner. That is what I am. Queens has grown so much but our infrastructure has not. Not just with the 21st century transit system, but our healthcare infrastructure is in a dire need to be revamped. It's become more than exhausted during COVID-19. Our schools are overcrowded and underfunded. We need to improve our educational opportunities for equity for all children. Furthermore, Mayor De Blasio has failed Queens residents. Queens needs its fair share to tackle the affordable housing crisis - we should never have residents torn between groceries and rent. With Queens representing 28% of the city’s overall population, it needs more than 10% of the affordable housing. Housing is a right - not a privilege.

The single most pressing issue facing Queens is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it:

Covid-19 recovery. Queens was the epicenter for the coronavirus and our economy and healthcare system were deeply hurt. This was made worse because Queens doesn’t get its fair share, affecting everything from emergency response time to the unmanageable strain on our hospitals. We have to rebuild in a smart way that finally gets our fair share and keeps focus on communities most impacted by the virus. On my first day in office I will create the Queens Health and Economic Council, bringing the best minds and leaders together to strategize, plan, and implement major structural changes.

What is the main difference between you and the other candidates seeking this post?

Besides being the only women in the race, I am a planner by training. I will use these skills as well as my clear record of reform to bring Queens together for the future. I am so proud to have the support of our first responders in Queens including Local 2507 EMS, Uniformed Firefighters Association, Uniformed Fire Officers Association, and the Transportation Workers Union Local 100. They support me because they know I will bring clear and strong leadership to Queens during this time of unprecedented crisis.

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?

My record is clear: I fought to save firehouses when the mayor wanted to cut them; I stood up against a corrupt library head and changed the leadership; I fought against the unfair funding of city council districts and won-now all districts have funding equity. And as a member of the council, I expanded 6,000 school seats in my district, which had previously been the most overcrowded in Queens. The old saying goes that you can’t fight City Hall and win. I disagree! We must and will get our fair share in Queens.

The best advice ever shared with me was:

Being raised by a strong mom after my dad died when I was 7, I learned early on that family is the most important thing. I have been so lucky to be supported by my family. And growing up 14 of 15 children taught me firsthand how to fight for my fair share!

This article originally appeared on the Queens Patch