District 26 Candidate

Denise Keehan-Smith

Campaign Website: DeniseKeehanSmith.com

NYC Campaign Finance Board — Funds Raised

Queens Post Questionnaire

What Office/District are you running for and why? I am running for City Council in District 26 because NYC is emerging from the worst financial and public health crisis in a generation due to COVID-19. Our district needs a leader with a strong business background, community leadership experience, and local roots to address our needs and make responsible decisions to move us forward. That’s exactly who I am. As a third-generation Woodside resident, I’ve lived here of my life, and I have an unparalleled record of accomplishment for my community.
How long have you lived or worked in the District and how active are you in the community right now? I was born and raised in Woodside and have lived here most of my life. I have been an active member of my community for the last twelve years and continue to advocate for my neighbors and community residents.

I am a Democratic District Leader in the 30th Assembly, former Chairwoman of Community Board 2, and former President of Big Six Towers.

What is your current occupation? Right now, I am committing 100% of my time to win this election and deliver our district the representation it deserves.

Prior to my decision to run for elected office, I was a Global Account Director for a Travel Technology organization.

What were your thoughts on the Amazon HQ2 proposal in Long Island City? As a Co-Chair of the GPP Sub-Committee for the Amazon Community Advisory Council, I had the unique opportunity to engage with key stakeholders and members of the community who would be directly impacted by the development.

We reviewed the potential impact of the development on the infrastructure and identified areas that would need to be updated and improved.

I believe that our partners at Amazon were fully on-board to carefully consider the impact of the development on our community’s housing, education, and transportation needs. Therefore, I was in full support of the Amazon proposal.

The proposal’s benefit to job creation and ancillary business services would have been a boon to the local economy.

What is your view on the Phipps Houses rezoning proposal on Barnett Avenue in Sunnyside? I am opposed to the Barnett Avenue rezoning. The Phipps organization presented a proposal in 2017 that fell short of delivering a viable solution. Their poor record of properly maintaining their existing Garden Apartments buildings was a great cause for concern. Their refusal to acknowledge the current deplorable conditions convinced me they should not be awarded the right to construct another building in our neighborhood. Their affordable housing AMI offerings fell short of what is truly affordable for the Woodside area and those coming out of homelessness. Additionally, there are currently four development projects within a half-mile radius of the Barnett Avenue rezoning that will severely impact the neighborhood’s infrastructure.
A rezoning application is likely to move forward on the private property surrounding the Anable Basin in Long Island City where Amazon was proposed to go. It is likely to involve thousands of residential units and hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial space. Would you approve such a development? What would you be looking for? I would approve a development project under the condition that truly affordable housing is included. However, I believe that the area surrounding the Anable Basin would best be served as a technology or business hub that could attract companies similar to Google, Facebook, etc., to make this area a beacon for technological innovation, which would be a huge boost to our local economy.
Do you think the rezoning process (ULURP) is working? If not, how would you change it? I do not believe that ULURP is currently working well. It is not transparent and does not take into consideration the concerns of local residents.

As City Councilwoman, I would advocate the Department of City Planning to do away with the ULURP process altogether and implement a new, more transparent rezoning process that puts community interests first.

Do you believe in member deference when it comes to rezoning? I do not believe in member deference when it comes to rezoning. I believe that the Land Use Chair of the City Council should take a closer look of the impact of a new development project as most at the time, development projects affect more than one council district.
Should the city council cut police funding? If so, by how much? I do not believe that the city council should cut police funding. I believe that the city council should investigate neighborhoods experiencing higher levels of crime and work with local community leaders to make our neighborhoods safer.
Do you think non-citizens (including undocumented immigrants) should be able to vote in New York City elections? Yes, I believe that if New York City is the place that you call home, if you work here, and you pay taxes here, you should be able to vote here.
How would you select community board members and is the current system working? I do not believe that the current system is working. As City Councilwoman, I would select community board members primarily through civic organizations’ recommendations. Still, I would also invite all members of the district to an open application process and seriously consider every application.
Are you an advocate for protected bicycle lanes in the district and, if so, where do you think they should go? I only support protected bicycle lanes on streets where they do not create a danger to safety, impede business owners from accessing loading zones, or create difficulties for those with disabilities to travel with ease.

For example, I support protected bicycle lanes around Blissville coming from the Kosciuszko Bridge to the Greenpoint Ave Bridge to the general Long Island City area, as I believe that none of the conditions I laid out above would be violated.

What is your view on the transportation network in Queens? What would you do to improve it? I believe that we have much room to grow in creating more accessible transportation options to travel in and out of Queens.

A few examples would be lowering the costs of Long Island Railroad for city dwellers to alleviate overcrowding on the 7 train, expanding our bus networks to create more time-connected options and make it easier for commuters to transfer buses without added waiting time, and finally, establishing East Side rail access in Sunnyside Yards to allow commuters to use the rails to travel to Grand Central Station rather than Penn Station.