Lifelong Southeast Queens resident, Selvena Brooks-Powers, is running for District 31’s City Council seat in the upcoming special election. As a homeowner in the Rockaways for the past 13 years, Brooks-Powers expressed to The Rockaway Times that she decided to run because she feels that the community has been continuously under-resourced. When she saw the lack of resources being distributed to the district at the beginning of the pandemic, she felt that she needed to stand up for her community. “I have been engaged in District 31 and worked with a number of community members and leaders, and all I see is the lack of equity and spaces it pertains to in our district. There is so much I’d like to accomplish, because as I see it, we have so many pressing priorities in our district,” Brooks-Powers said. She already has experience working for both the Senate and the Mayor’s office, and currently serves as the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises compliance project manager with the JFK Redevelopment Program. Now Brooks-Powers is hoping to continue to serve the community in a bigger leadership role.
One major issue Brooks-Powers hopes to tackle is the need for more quality healthcare facilities, which was especially made clear as the peninsula was hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout, Brooks-Powers and her friends helped donate masks to the Addabbo Health Center and St. John’s Hospital so they could stay protected on the frontlines. Additionally, she helped schedule testing appointments for seniors at the Addabbo Health Center.
Having worked at Peninsula Hospital before it closed, Brooks-Powers knows firsthand the value of quality healthcare on the peninsula. If elected, she says she will fight to have a new hospital established in the Rockaways, especially one with a trauma center. Because the nearest trauma hospital is Jamaica Hospital, Brooks-Powers stated that this trip in the event of an emergency is essentially a life or death trip. “A trauma center here, affiliated with a larger hospital, would make sure that we have expanded quality healthcare on this peninsula,” Brooks-Powers said.
Brooks-Powers also wishes to tackle the lack of resources in local schools. Having attended public schools within the district her whole life, Brooks-Powers feels that she understands what it is like when a school does not have the proper resources. She expressed her disappointment in the Dept. of Education regarding reopening schools and ensuring that each student has the resources they need to work remotely.
“New York City is one of the biggest cities in the world, and there are still so many students that do not have the devices they need for remote schooling,” Brooks-Powers said. She also noted that throughout the City, Queens public schools received the fewest number of resources from the Dept. of Education. Brooks-Powers noted how important it is to get these resources for the students since remote schooling has become so prevalent.
She hopes to advocate for public schools to be properly funded, so that students can receive a proper educational experience in more equitable ways. Brooks-Powers believes that in addition to the physical resources students need for remote learning, our schools should start focusing on the long term effects that remote learning has on our students. She elaborated on the idea that if students are falling behind due to remote learning, then our schools need to create more tutoring sessions, as well as create preemptive steps that will ensure their success for their futures.
As a Rockaway resident, Brooks-Powers recognizes the unique needs of the peninsula. Located by the coast, she advocates for resiliency developments that will improve our infrastructure. Additionally, she wishes to create truly affordable housing for Rockaway residents so if they choose to do so, people can eventually become homeowners. If elected, Brooks-Powers would like to implement a path to homeownership, by creating a fund and community based organizations for potential buyers. She told The Rockaway Times that, “When people feel like they have a stake in the community, it takes on a whole new life, as well. New developments need to be affordable, and people indigenous to our community have the ability to stay and remain here.” In regard to the peninsula’s lack of quality transportation options, Brooks-Powers will work with agencies to address the need for enhancing the commute for District 31 residents. “Without access to transportation, you don’t have access to certain types of jobs that may pay better,” said Brooks-Powers.
Brooks-Powers is also running on a platform that advocates for relief for our local businesses. “With no uniform policy in place, Rockaway residents should not have to travel to Long Island to experience indoor dining if they wish to eat at a restaurant,” Brooks-Powers said. She expressed how much this hurts our businesses, and the businesses in Queens cannot possibly survive if these rules continue.
Brooks-Powers said she recently walked the merchant corridor on Mott Avenue and spoke to many business owners who expressed the challenges they have endured since the beginning of the pandemic. If elected, she plans to fight for our local businesses to receive grant money and loans. “The City did not do a good job with the way they distributed funding and support of the businesses in Queens, a majority of the funding went to businesses in Manhattan. When businesses close their doors, we’re also losing jobs for people that live in this community and rely on these businesses,” Brooks-Powers said. She expressed that one of her top priorities if elected will be to help businesses receive the funding they need to bounce back from the pandemic.
Because of the diversity that exists throughout District 31, Brooks-Powers also advocates for public safety for all community members. She believes that it is extremely important to rebuild the relationship between community members and law enforcement, ensuring that every person feels safe. “This is an important opportunity for people to reimagine what community policing actually looks like,” Brooks-Powers said. If elected, she will advocate for transparency, fairness, and accountability for law enforcement officers. Brooks-Powers believes that if the district creates more community policing forces, then community members will start to participate in bridging the divide that currently exists.
These are just a few of the many issues Brooks-Powers, a democrat running on the Powers 4 Queens line, wishes to address if elected as District 31’s City Councilwoman. “I have served this community for the past 17 years, and I do not wish to stop now,” Brooks-Powers said. “I know the issues this district has because I live here and experience them every day. I am very committed and passionate about serving my community because the issues in Southeast Queens and the Rockaways deserve to be recognized.”
By Marina Cregan
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