May 18, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
Policing and pandemic recovery were on the agenda as city council candidate Jaslin Kaur and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams addressed a crowd of nearly 100 residents in Queens Village Monday.
Kaur, who is running to represent District 23, shared her vision of a safer New York at the meeting last night titled “Safe Families, Safe Streets, Safe Communities.”
She said that public safety comes from investing in programs for children and young people, like community centers and the “3-K” early development program.
“Real public safety isn’t about increased surveillance and incarceration, it’s about giving children a pathway to a good future,” Kaur, a resident of Glen Oaks, said.
Williams, who has endorsed Kaur in her primary, said public safety is a “huge issue” as the pandemic winds down, and says that the way crises like mental health and homelessness are addressed need to be reimagined.
“Especially in this pandemic, mental health is a problem, suicide is a problem, gun violence is a problem. Hurt people, hurt people – they either hurt themselves, or they hurt other folks,” Williams said.
Gun crime has risen significantly since the beginning of the pandemic, with 505 shooting victims reported in the city from Jan. 1, 2021 through May 9, according to NYPD data. That number is up nearly 84 percent from the same point in 2020, and more than double the number compared to 2019.
Williams says that providing unlimited overtime to mental health workers—as opposed to the NYPD—could prove beneficial.
“We ask law enforcement to do everything. Mental health services, helping homeless New Yorkers… the police don’t have the tools to do that,” Williams said.
Williams, who served in the city council from 2010 to 2019, says that mental health care needs to be prioritized, particularly for young people, who have had to grow up under the unique circumstances of the pandemic.
“If adults have felt trauma this past year, being home, not being able to see family, I can only imagine what the young people are going through,” Williams said.
Kaur shared the story of her parents – her mother works at Shop Rite and her father is a taxi driver – to show her personal connection to the struggle of working families during the pandemic.
She said her father, who just turned 62 this month, says he has no plan to ever retire.
Kaur says she empathizes with New Yorkers who are worried about facing eviction, losing their job or about whether they’ll get health and senior care services.
“With every story I’ve heard from every neighbor I’ve spoken to just in this past hour, I feel a lot of pain and distrust in systems that haven’t been working for us,” Kaur said.
Kaur is one of seven candidates running to replace Barry Grodenchik, who announced last year he is retiring from office at the end of his term.
The district is comprised of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Little Neck and Queens Village.