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 31 Endorsement
First choice: Selvena Brooks-Powers
Second choice: Nicole Lee
In February, District 31 held a special election, following the resignation of former Council Member and current Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. Selvena Brooks-Powers handily won the nine-candidate race and was seated in the City Council one month later.
The Haitian Times thinks she is the best choice to continue leading the district, which encompasses the southeast Queens neighborhoods of Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens. District 31 contains more than 7,700 Haitian residents, U.S. Census figures indicate, most likely an undercount.
During her short time in office so far, she has already made an impact, collaborating to expand Cure Violence programs to the 105th Precinct, which encompasses Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens. We believe this daughter of immigrant parents with a background in community organizing will have a sensitivity to the needs of Haitian-Americans and other immigrant enclaves.
Brooks-Powers has a Democratic primary contender in Nicole Lee. Although she does not have government experience, Lee has spent decades as an entrepreneur in the community and we laud her for championing the concerns of business owners, along with other key issues like affordable housing and advocating for children with special needs. As such, we would recommend ranking Lee second on the ballot, for the Democratic primary.
Candidate Vanessa Simon also participated in The Haitian Times’ virtual forum last month. She is being promoted as a Republican candidate and will not appear on the ballot until November. An HR professional with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Simon said her knowledge of engaging people would be brought to bear in public service. If elected, she said, she would prioritize obtaining financial assistance and career development education resources for constituents coming out of the pandemic.