One week ago, 22-year-old Far Rockaway resident, Khaleel Anderson, announced his bid for the NYS State Assembly 31st District seat, (representing Far Rockaway, South Ozone Park, Springfield Gardens, Rosedale, and Laurelton), which has been held by the incumbent Michele Titus, since 2002. Anderson said when it was announced that Titus maybe stepping down as she was presented with another opportunity, he did not hesitate. According to Anderson, this was his chance to run for a position that would give him the platform to put constituents above special interests, and to finally see his district’s values and what is truly needed, being upheld by an assembly person who cares — him.
Don’t be fooled by Anderson’s age. The self-described — community organizer, visionary, fighter, leader, who sincerely loves helping people — has quite a curriculum vitae as a passionate and steadfast community advocate. He has served on Community Board 14 since 2016; is on the board of directors at Rockaway Youth Task Force (RYTF), where he was also a senior field organizer; is a former community liaison at NYS Senate; and former logistical assistant at Ready Rockaway, and also is a member of the local NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Anderson graduated from Channel View for Social Research, and is currently pursuing an accelerated program at Queens College, where he will soon earn his bachelor’s in urban studies and master’s degree in urban affairs.
For Anderson, community advocacy runs in his blood and incredibly, it all started when he was just nine years old. “I’ve been an advocate and a budding leader in the community for the past 10 years. However, my passion was ignited by my parents. My family was living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where I was born and lived until I was aged nine. My mom was an organizer for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a collection of community-based organizations that advocated for low- and moderate-income families by working on neighborhood safety, voter registration, health care, affordable housing, and other social issues. Whatever political races or advocacy my mom was doing, including with the school’s Parents Teacher Association, I was always right beside her, learning, watching and listening. Plus my dad was an organizer for the National Health Care Workers’ Union 1199. So watching both of them and their passion to help others, really inspired me at a really young age,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the family moved to Far Rockaway in 2005, and his informal training with his mom continued as he continued to tag along with her at community meetings, going to demonstrations, helping political candidates, and organizing the community around voting and other grassroots organizing. However, for Anderson, what really incubated him as a community advocate was his experience at the RYTF.
“The RYTF was really the organization that gave me my platform to organize myself and organize the community from issues with poor transportation to access with adequate green space and parks, which are very important to the healthy growth of young people, and making sure we have access to food, not junk food, but healthy food. This is what I believe this District still sorely needs.
“Rockaway is a transportation desert because our infrastructure sucks, we have the highest unemployment rate in the borough, and then of course, resiliency and sustainability. Of course, affordable housing is a priority as well, because according to the Department of City Planning, Rockaway is 44 percent rent-burdened with homes, meaning people are paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent.
“I know these are not things that 150 people in the State Assembly can resolve alone even if they are united, but certainly it’s worthy bringing it to the forefront because these are all issues that are affecting residents on a daily basis,” Anderson said.
When asked why take this leap to run for State Assembly, Anderson frankly stated, “I truly care and want to advocate for what people need. I threw my hat in very early in the race because I want to use this time to help rally some of the people who have pushed and supported me over the years. Now here’s my chance to create a new narrative for the community. I really pride myself on being an advocate for the people who are not in the room. “I’ve been doing the work in the community, I’m super excited and super energetic about what’s happening in Rockaway and and see the potential for change.
Some of the platforms Anderson stands on include: equitable transportation, sustainable employment like with the JFK Redevelopment Plan; and resilient storm protection measures.
What’s also really endearing about Anderson is though he is so mature, motivated and a beacon of leadership — he is still a youth at heart. As he was wrapping up the interview with The Rockaway Times, he said, “Now on to my next appointment. I just ordered some auto parts. I’m going to work on my car.”
For more information about Anderson and how you can support his campaign for state assembly, visit Khaleel Anderson on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS