Over the last three months, The Haitian Times held a series of candidate forums to learn about the people hoping to represent the neighborhoods with the most Haitian-Americans. We would like to thank every candidate who participated in the forums and wish them all the best in serving our communities, whether as elected officials or concerned private citizens.
Ahead of early voting starting Saturday, June 12, and primary day taking place Tuesday, June 22, we will release one endorsement representing how The Haitian Times editorial staff would fill the ranked-choice ballot for each district.
Our endorsement in each race is based on those conversations and the candidates’ platforms.
District 27 Endorsement
First choice: James Johnson
Second choice: Kerryanne Burke
Third choice: Rene Hill
Fourth choice: Marie Adam-Ovide
Fifth choice: Jason Clark
District 27 encompasses the neighborhoods of Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village and Springfield Gardens and contains more than 15,000 Haitian-American residents, per Census figures. The district comprises established middle and upper middle-class families, alongside some who are struggling for a variety of reasons.
We were impressed with how qualified and passionate all candidates were about the district in the eight-person debate. Voters in the district cannot go wrong with any of the five candidates we have chosen to rank. They spoke at length about engaging their southeast Queens community in creative ways, sharing ideas ranging from a mobile office to 24-7 phone access for constituents.
The dynamic interaction between all eight candidates was truly engaging in itself. Our staff found it heartening to hear from such a caring group of candidates who knew their district intimately. It was clear that each had given extensive thought to their positions and all of them have very concrete track records of doing work for their community.
After listening to all of them, we think community organizer James Johnson’s proposal for neighborhood roundtable discussions can be particularly effective to engage this district. Johnson’s idea is a reflection of the passion and practical ideas he brings — a good combination for an elected public servant. He has solid credentials as a community organizer and, as a community liaison to term-limited incumbent Daneek Miller, sufficient knowledge of how the city council operates.
During the forum, Johnson was also the most passionate advocate to bring a new community center to the district and displayed deep policy knowledge, with proposals to bring more staff and vocational training into schools.
Overall, he has a good balance of community-rooted advocacy and equity as well as fresh yet practical ideas that an elected official could be held accountable to deliver.
For these reasons, The Haitian Times would rank Johnson in the first position.
During the forum, attorney Kerryanne Burke stressed building economic sovereignty in the district and improving language accessibility through French and Creole services at the district office. We would rank Burke second on the ballot, followed by business owner Rene Hill in the third slot.
Hill was the only candidate to speak about limiting the overdevelopment threatening to upend the character of the community, a good portion of which is composed of single family homes. Marie Adam-Ovide, a community board district manager, seemed to be a dedicated community servant, who knows how government functions and how to connect community residents with the resources they need.
We also commend attorney Jason Clark for his proposal to use federal pandemic relief money to assist public school students in the district, through the creation of individual education plans and bringing more staff into schools.