District 26 Candidate

Julia Forman

Campaign Website: votejulia.com

New York City Campaign Finance Board — funds raised

QUEENS POST QUESTIONNARIE

What Office/District are you running for and why? I’m running to be the next councilmember of District 26, and the first woman to represent this district, because whether acting as a board member of my local civic association, a founding member of the Western Queens Community Land Trust or just as a person chatting with the neighbor next to me at a local bar, no matter who I speak to, the same issues come up.

They are afraid of being priced out of their homes and of being separated from our community. And time after time, we’ve been shown how real that threat is.

Real estate developers have set their sights on making millions off of District 26, with no regard for the schools we send our children to, the seniors struggling to get by, or for the negative environmental impact their development will have on all of us.

And now Covid-19 has brought more uncertainty to our district. I am ready to step up and be the fierce fighter the community that welcomed me back in 2014 needs. As council member I will push for all recovery efforts to be centered around the needs of our schools, our small businesses, and first and foremost, our neighbors. I’m running to be the effective leader my district deserves and will bring us into a future designed for us.

How long have you lived or worked in the District and how active are you in the community right now? I have lived in the district since 2014, and I have been a member of the Dutch Kills Civic Association since 2018 and was sworn in as a board member in December 2019. As a newer board member of an over 40 year old organization, I have taken strides to bring in a younger generation of members and to increase outreach and engagement in our community so that the working families of this district unite for our best interests.

I am a founder member of the Western Queens Community Land Trust which was started in 2019. When the land trust incorporated earlier this year, I expanded my steering committee role to become the first Treasurer. As an organization not just dedicated to bringing a land trust to our area, but in promoting community-focused, sustainable land use decisions in general, we were proud to have been an integral part of defeating the YourLIC proposal for numerous new luxury towers on the Long Island City waterfront. Earlier this summer, after months of meeting with our elected officials, speaking out at Community Board meetings, and doing community outreach, our message got through to the city, and it was announced that they are no longer partnering with developers for public land.

I am also an active member of the Astoria Mutual Aid Network since it was formed in March 2020 and signed up to be one of the earliest dispatchers, which are the team members who field requests from neighbors in need, and reach out to volunteers who provide the appropriate assistance. Upon learning about my background in public service and knowledge of local political and governmental agencies and programs, the founder of AMAN contacted me to discuss taking on the role of intergovernmental communications liaison. In that role, I’ve focused on reaching out to our local elected officials and acquiring both information and resources for AMAN including PPE and boxes of groceries that have helped us feed over 1,000 Queens households. Through my community relationships, I was also able to connect AMAN to non-profit entities that brought full trucks of free, fresh, and nutritious food to Western Queens. I’m proud that my connections have been able to serve my community not just by keeping them fed, but doing so in a healthy and dignified way.

I was honored to have been elected as a Judicial Delegate this past June after running with the support of New Reformers and have utilized my experience in this position to educate voters and community members about the lack of transparency in our government. I am now focusing on recruiting others to run for these volunteer positions within the Queens Democratic Party, so that we can have a truly open and inclusive party in our borough.

What is your current occupation? I am a licensed attorney, but am currently dedicated to this campaign full-time.
What were your thoughts on the Amazon HQ2 proposal in Long Island City? I protested against Amazon HQ2. I do not think that Amazon or any other large corporation should be offered tax and monetary incentives to catalyze the gentrification in my district or city. Corporations are welcome but they need to pay their fair share of taxes so that we can fund the social services needed to ensure every New Yorker has their basic needs met. That said, I am strongly committed to working to bring well-paying, union jobs to our community and will work with companies looking to put down roots in District 26 while ensuring that the benefits of any deal will be felt by our neighbors directly.
What is your view on the Phipps Houses rezoning proposal on Barnett Avenue in Sunnyside? I believe that it has been critical to build more permanently affordable housing in our area for a long time, and Covid has only increased the urgency to do so. I also believe that everyone has the right to live in a safe, sanitary, and comfortable home. Unfortunately Phipps has failed to meet that criteria in its current Sunnyside development, and they have a number of HPD violations to their name. As a city, we must hold these developers accountable, and require any developer given a city contract or rezoning to clear their violations before receiving more public money or land.
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? As the treasurer and co-founder of Western Queens Community Land Trust, I believe that our communities should decide how public land is used.  As a council member, I will follow the leads and wishes of community land trusts like the one I am an active leader in.  This land should be used to create publicly accessible, sustainable green space and permanently affordable housing or commercial space.
Do you think the rezoning process (ULURP) is working? If not, how would you change it? No, I believe the ULURP process should be replaced. I support creating a comprehensive city plan developed with deep community input that specifically designates the needs of each community. Any future development should be done in accordance with that plan making the process specifically community led as opposed to the current system that is initiated and driven by developers.
Do you believe in member deference when it comes to rezoning? I believe that each council member was elected by their district and thus should be expected to have the most detailed, accurate understanding of what their community needs. That said, the influence of the real estate industry on our local politics is significant, and the entire council needs to scrutinize any rezoning project carefully. The council member for the district where the rezoning would take place should be heard, but ultimately each member should make their decision independently.
Should the city council cut police funding? If so, by how much? Yes, by at least $3 billion.
Do you think non-citizens (including undocumented immigrants) should be able to vote in New York City elections? As the wife of a non-citizen immigrant, I am very passionate about my advocacy for non-citizens to be able to vote in local elections.  Everyone who calls New York City home should be able to participate in helping to determine its future.
How would you select community board members and is the current system working? I am impressed with the new format of the application process that includes more in depth background information questions and am glad it is fully online now (as it previously had to be notarized which prevented many from taking part). We need to appoint more members who are diverse in age, background, lived experiences, and neighborhoods using a blind review process to avoid personal relationships from influencing appointment decisions.
Are you an advocate for protected bicycle lanes in the district and, if so, where do you think they should go? Yes. I believe every major road should have a protected bike lane throughout the entire city.  I will also advocate for increased fines for parking or driving in bicycle lanes, including NYPD, as this continues to cause unnecessary deaths of our neighbors, including delivery workers.
What is your view on the transportation network in Queens? What would you do to improve it? I will partner with my state representatives to fight for increased MTA funding which should immediately be used to update our outdated transit infrastructure as quickly as possible, including ensuring every entrance to the subway is accessible. We need to stop cutting bus stops and bus lines, and instead make cuts to unnecessary public spending instead to fund redesigns of our roads to create more dedicated bus lanes, or even busways.  I believe we also need to prioritize the safety of bikers with increased protected biking lanes across the entire city.