District 26 Candidate

Julie Won

Campaign Website: Juliewon.com

NYC Campaign Finance Board — funds raised

QUEENS POST QUESTIONNAIRE

  • Why are you running for office?

I’m running for City Council in District 26.

When I was eight years old, my family immigrated to New York from South Korea, after a financial collapse destroyed the livelihoods of millions of families–including mine.  This experience, along with my working class upbringing in New York, pushed me to succeed so that I could provide for my parents, who had not missed a day of work throughout my childhood.  In order to give back and to support my family, I worked for IBM as a Digital Strategy Consultant, helping to modernize non-profit groups and government agencies.

Amidst the global pandemic this year, I saw firsthand how working families and the disadvantaged were utterly crushed under the weight of COVID-19, unemployment, and systemic inequity–all while the stock market has risen to historic highs.  Like many New Yorkers, my parents lost their jobs when the small businesses that employed them had to shutter for good.  Our City Council must stand up for working families, small businesses, minority communities, and all others who have suffered the most.  I am running for office to combat these injustices, and to reverse this City’s policies of indifference and oppression of the under-privledged and the most vulnerable.  Now is the time for us as a City to fight for a just and fair recovery.

  • How long have you lived or worked in the 26th Council District and how active are you in the community right now?

I moved to this district 4 years ago, and am living in Sunnyside with my husband.  I am a member of Community Board 2, and on the advisory boards for Queens Together (a borough-wide restaurant alliance), 696 Build Queensbridge (an anti-violence and restorative justice organization), as well as volunteering as part of the 39th Ave Open Streets Coalition, and with mutual aid groups in our neighborhood.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have focused my time and energy on volunteering to alleviate some of the most pressing needs of my neighbors.  From facilitating food distribution events for our district’s most food insecure communities, to organizing clothing drives for families who are struggling to stay warm this winter, helping my neighbors with their immediate needs has been my top priority.  Especially now, New Yorkers demand elected officials who are compassionate and empathetic and I will continue this work until the City gets back on its feet.  Through my volunteering and charitable efforts, in addition to grassroots campaigning, I seek to connect with my voters in the most authentic way possible.

  • What is your occupation?

Digital Strategy Consultant at IBM (7.5 years) and candidate for NYC Council

LAND USE ISSUES

  • What were your thoughts on the Amazon HQ2 deal in Long Island City in 2018?

The opposition to HQ2 was symptomatic of the broader issues in the neighborhood, such as the displacement of residents due to ever-increasing rents, the lack of schools, overcrowded subways and lack of transportation infrastructure, and spotty development that leaves us less resilient to climate change.

I opposed the Amazon HQ2 proposal for the following reasons:

  1. The backroom deal struck by de Blasio, Cuomo, and Amazon to give away $3 billion in subsidies was an egregious attempt at corporate welfare.
  2. As NYS would have taken lead, this proposal would have bypassed the ULURP process and prevented community input.
  3. HQ2 and the influx of Amazon employees would have caused rent hikes and displaced long-time residents.
  4. Despite their promise of jobs, the only ones available to members of our community would have been temporary construction, or low-wage jobs.

Do you think the rezoning process (ULURP) is working? If not, how would you change it?

The ULURP process was designed to streamline re-zonings for developers, but what about the surrounding communities? Developers have long whipped fear into elected officials that their neighborhoods would stagnate if developers did not “save” the neighborhood. This is simply a lopsided process in which the public has to be hyper vigilant and very organized.  It’s a difficult process even for well resourced, organized, and informed communities.  Many other communities never even have a chance.  In Western Queens, profit seeking developers like Phipps and Plaxall are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire lobbyists to help shape public opinion and to guide them through the process.  Our neighborhoods simply do not have equivalent resources.  I believe that every neighborhood should work on a development plan together, independently of real estate developers and then we should seek the amenities we desire as a community.

Do you believe in member deference when it comes to rezoning?

No, I do not believe in member deference.  Rezonings across the city should be approached holistically, with the goal of alleviating our shortage of affordable housing, and improving the quality of life for all residents.  Member deference has allowed for sporadic overdevelopment of some neighborhoods such as LIC and downtown Flushing to the detriment of those communities, while other neighborhoods’ development needs go totally unmet.

  • What is your view on the Phipps Houses rezoning proposal on Barnett Avenue in Sunnyside?

As a member of Community Board 2, I was in the minority when I voted “No” to the Barnett Ave rezoning.  The crux of my vote was based on Phipps’ deplorable record as a landlord, not only in Sunnyside, but citywide.  Dozens of tenants living in the Phipps Garden Apartments have been complaining about pests, vermin, and negligence on the part of the management, and these are issues I have faced firsthand as a resident myself.  The property has a myriad of open HPD violations, and they have been listed the 11th worst evictor in NYC last year.  I believe that developers must address all tenant complaints, violations, and repairs before requesting a rezoning or new development, not after.  They have been terrible landlords to the 150 families residing in the Phipps Garden Apartments, and in good conscience, I could not vote to allow them to be bad landlords to another 300 families on Barnett Avenue.

  • A series of rezoning applications are likely to move forward on private property surrounding the Anable Basin in Long Island City while the next council member is in office. What would you be looking for in these applications?

For the Anable Basin area specifically, I would only approve of a development that our most critical needs.  First of all, the plots of land that make up Anable Basin are extremely prone to flooding and other consequences of climate change.  Any plan that does not include proactive climate resilience measures must not be approved.  Additionally, any proposed development must include deeply affordable housing, as well as mitigate forces that propel the displacement of residents and small businesses.  This neighborhood suffers from a dearth of livable infrastructure, and any development here must contain plans for parks, playgrounds, schools, and transportation infrastructure.

POLICE

  • Should the city council cut police funding? If so, by how much?

Yes, I believe that funding must be reallocated away from the NYPD. I support sustaining the $1 billion cut from the last budget, and an additional cut of $1.3 billion from the following:

$440 M – Cut overtime, invasive surveillance technology use, and cut contracts to procure military-grade weapons and equipment

$287 M – Terminate abusive officers, cut “modified duty” (essentially a time-out for bad cops), and deduct settlement payments from NYPD budget

$263 M – Cancel new cadet classes, cadet training, and freeze all new hires

$219 M – Reduce uniformed officers to 2014 levels (5% cut in number of cops)

$100 M – Remove all officers from transit, schools, homeless outreach, and mental health crisis response

Instead we should focus our energy and budget on crime prevention and crisis management, which a focus on realloaction toward community organizations like 696 Build Queensbridge that utilizes cure violence models and restorative justice models through a public health lens. Their holistic approach encompasses mental health, entrepreneurship and job growth, a philosophy that should be adopted citywide.

VOTING RIGHTS

  • Do you think non-citizens–including undocumented immigrants–should be able to vote in New York City elections?

Yes, as immigrants contribute to our diverse city in so many ways, I believe that those who have lived in NYC for a set number of years should be allowed to vote in municipal elections.

COMMUNITY BOARDS

How would you select community board members and is the current system working?

Community Boards sadly still do not reflect the population of the community that resides within the Community Board. There is a distinctly lopsided underrepresentation of young people, young parents, renters, and non-English speakers to begin with. That Community Board meetings are conducted all in English and are exclusionary to NYC communities at large. I will work to correct this imbalance on my Community Boards as well as look for opportunities to change the city charter on these issues. As a member of Queens CB2, I am working on the Tech Subcommittee to modernize our community board and to make it more accessible. We are making meetings and events more transparent by posting them on social media as well as doing outreach to CBOs that work with communities that have not been traditionally reached by our CB. We must invest in translators to translate our CB meetings in real-time.

TRANSPORTATION

  • Are you an advocate for protected bicycle lanes in the district and, if so, where do you think they should go?

Yes, absolutely.  While biking in an unprotected bike lane, I was hit by a car speeding toward a parking spot last year.  I believe that we need to rapidly build more protected bike lanes in our district, to make streets safer for cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers.  I advocate for the construction of new protected bike lanes along Northern Blvd, Queens Blvd, Vernon Blvd, 39th Ave, Broadway, as well as the expansion of the one along Crescent Street to include physical barriers.  For all of these new bike lanes, and ones already in existence, we need to upgrade protected bike lanes to require physical barriers that prevent vehicle/cyclist/pedestrian crashes.

  • What is your view on the transportation network in western Queens? What would you do to improve it?

We must return our streets to people. We love our district for its many subway lines, its convenient bus routes, its walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, but there is more work to be done.

We must expand the Fair Fares program and ensure that all low-income New Yorkers receive heavily discounted or free Metrocards. We need to make sure bus service is frequent and reliable by adding dedicated bus lanes, busways, and system-wide all-door-boarding. Only four subway stations in our district have even partial elevator access; I won’t stop fighting until all stations are ADA accessible with functioning elevators. I support comprehensive curb reform with an expansion of loading zones, a reduction of non-medical parking placards and enforcement against placard abuse, and an end to the Stipulated Fine Program, which allows just ten large companies to shirk nearly $30 million in parking tickets every year.

I will ensure that we design streets to be community and human-centered with safety and accessibility in mind. Sidewalks should be accessible even in the icy winter months. Walk signals should provide ample time for all New Yorkers to cross the street safely. All intersections should have well-maintained curb cuts, bulb outs and daylighting to improve safety, as well as Accessible Pedestrian Signals at all signalized intersections. As we build on the success of the Open Restaurants program we must ensure that all sidewalk seating leaves at least a 64 inch path clear of obstructions.