Sept. 17, 2019 By Allie Griffin
Council Member Costa Constantinides is the latest to join the Queens Borough President race, announcing his bid Tuesday morning.
Running on an environmental platform, Constantinides joins Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, former Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman in the race to be the next borough president.
Current Borough President Melinda Katz is likely to vacate the seat on Jan. 1, 2020 to become Queens District Attorney. She is running to be the next DA in November’s general election and is expected to cruise to victory.
The city will hold a special election for borough president within 45 days of her vacancy.
Constantinides declared his candidacy today with the promise of “a stronger, more equitable and more resilient Queens in the face of climate change.” The council member, who entered office in 2014 and is term limited, has a long history of environmental activism and crafted and led the Green New Deal for New York City.
Queens needs a plan to fight rising tides and rising rents, which is why I’m running to be your next Borough President! Together, we can reinvent this office to give our children a secure, greener future. I hope you’ll join our movement: https://t.co/1tfa6cr01V #TransformQueens pic.twitter.com/D1C4Jfj8pJ
— Costa Constantinides (@Costa4NY) September 17, 2019
“Queens is on the front lines of climate change. It puts our home, our lives, and our future at risk,” Constantinides said. “We’ve already experienced the threat of extreme weather, when Sandy destroyed huge parts of our beloved borough. That was now seven years ago, and Queens is still not ready for the next storm — let alone the rising seas, flooding, and extreme heat we’ve already seen.”
Constantinides said he would create a plan to protect every neighborhood in Queens from future storms and create thousands of new green jobs, quality affordable housing and affordable clean energy.
He specifically noted three environmental dangers the borough faces, which he hopes to help resolve. The first he said is that rising sea levels could put JFK Airport under water by the end of the century. Next, he said more than half of the Rockaways’ 120,000 residents are at risk of serious flood damage.
Lastly, he noted that children who live in the industrial sections of Southeast and Northwest Queens are in greater danger of getting sick from pollutants. All three are matters he hopes to address if elected borough president.
The Council Member touted the Climate Mobilization Act that he spearheaded in April that is now law. The law, which is being phased in starting in 2024, limits the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can come from large buildings. By 2030, owners of buildings larger than 25,000 square feet must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels.
Other campaign points include making schools more energy-efficient; renovating parks to be greener, resilient and healthier; and ensuring any housing development on public land in Queens is 100 percent affordable with a prioritization for senior housing.
Constantinides is the son of a Cypriot immigrant and grew up in Astoria, where he lives with his wife and son today. He graduated from Queens College and Cardozo Law School and began his political career as Deputy Chief of Staff to then-Council Member James Gennaro.
Constantinides and Van Bramer, who announced his candidacy in April, are likely to be the only candidates from western Queens to run.
Crowley, who lost her city council seat to Robert Holden in 2017, said she is likely to run for borough president, but hasn’t officially announced her candidacy yet. Hyndman filed paperwork to run in August.
Other rumored contenders include Council Members Donovan Richards, Paul Vallone and Eric Ulrich, the borough’s only elected Republican.