City Council District 40 Candidates on Streets and Transportation Issues

City Council District 40 candidates Brian Cunningham and Pia Raymond.
City Council District 40 candidates Brian Cunningham and Pia Raymond.

Tomorrow’s Democratic primaries will be the decisive vote in most City Council districts, determining who will represent New York City neighborhoods for the next four years. In some races, the outcome is likely to come down to a few hundred votes or fewer.

Two weeks ago, Streetsblog sent four open-ended questions to the candidates in eight contested City Council races. We’re publishing the responses we received, as well as supplementary material from StreetsPAC questionnaires, in a series of posts this afternoon.

In the 40th District, covering parts of Flatbush, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, and Ditmas Park, incumbent Mathieu Eugene faces challengers Jennifer Berkley, Brian Cunningham, and Pia Raymond. The candidates did not respond to Streetsblog’s queries, but Cunningham and Raymond did reply to the StreetsPAC questionnaire, portions of which are excerpted here:

Do you pledge to oppose any efforts to increase speed limits on New York City streets, such as the bills in the State Assembly and Senate that propose raising the 25 mph speed limit on Brooklyn’s Ocean Parkway?

Brian Cunningham: Yes.

Pia Raymond: Ocean Parkway is a main thoroughfare with traffic lights and many residences and schools along the corridor. The center of Ocean Parkway is an extensive walkway and open space with seating that encourages community. The speed limit must be kept low to ensure that drivers are conscious of the many pedestrians and schools along the parkway.

Do you pledge to oppose efforts to limit New York City’s Right-of-Way Law, including opposing exemptions for bus drivers or other professional vehicle operators, such as New York City Council Intro 663?

Cunningham: I believe we need to reform the law so that bus drivers who commit an accident while on the job are treated differently than regular drivers.

Raymond: Yes.

Do you support the expanded use of automated traffic enforcement, such as speed and red-light cameras, including efforts to deploy speed cameras around all 2,000+ New York City schools?

Cunningham: Yes.

Raymond: Yes.

Do you support the removal or repurposing of on-street parking spaces if such removal can improve safety for pedestrians (such as with the implementation of curb extensions) and/or cyclists (as with protected bike lanes)?

Cunningham: Yes.

Raymond: Yes.

Do you support the Move NY fair tolling plan?

Cunningham: Yes.

Raymond: No response.

Do you support substantially reducing or even eliminating minimum parking requirements from the zoning code outside of Manhattan?

Cunningham: No.

Raymond: Yes.

Do you believe that Community Boards should have veto power over projects proposed by the NYC Department of Transportation?

Cunningham: Yes.

Raymond: Yes.

Do you support term limits for Community Board members?

Cunningham: Yes.

Raymond: Yes.

Do you support permanently closing New York City’s parks to cars?

Cunningham: Yes.

Raymond: Yes.

  • Vooch

    Pia wins by a slight margin

  • kevd

    I was planning on voting for cunningham, but his Right of Way and parking minimum answers are making me think twice.
    I still think he’d be better than Mathieu Eugene (as would Raymond, it appears – but her silence on Move NY tolling is problematic.)

    Anyone have the slightest idea about polling in this race? I’ve only seen posters for Cunningham and Eugene, so I was assuming Cunningham was the only credible challenger.
    Can’t Jumanne WIlliams just represent the 45th AND the 40th?

  • FLYINGCHOPSTIK

    Despite disagreeing with the couple of answers that brian answered, I still feel that he is a better candidate (though both he or Pia would be better than Eugene).

    Brian is very open minded and receptive to feedback. He accompanied a group of us on a bike ride of the district last month and we pointed out problematic intersections and areas for less and cyclists. He actually wishes to do another ride after the election to go over areas that we didn’t yet reach such as Ditmas.

    He is the most progressive of he candidates and he has the best detailed plans for tackling a number of issues including affordable housing and criminal justice reform which should also be taken into consideration. Pia has no government experience and there were some other concerns that I had that changed my mind about her in favor of Cunningham.

  • Andrew

    “commit an accident”?

  • kevd

    “He accompanied a group of us on a bike ride of the district last month and we pointed out problematic intersections”
    That seems like reason enough to vote for someone.

  • hayamate

    I was also going to vote for Cunningham as well, but his answer to the ROW law is awful. Bus drivers should not be held to a different standard that private drivers. It could set a standard for professional drivers to be held to a less critical standard, which then could mean taxi drivers and livery drivers be included.

    This is a major red flag.

  • FLYINGCHOPSTIK

    I agree. We met with him a couple of times about neighborhood related issues but we can definitely discuss more citywide issues with him after the election. on. Hes a practical person and with enough logical explanation, i think he can be persuaded.

  • FLYINGCHOPSTIK

    I agree but this is one position that when confronted with by enough people, I’m sure we can convince him to change.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    I’ve met them both many times. Brian is a far and away clear leader to me. He gets safe streets much greater than Pia has demonstrated and that’s why he’s earned the StreetsPAC endorsement. He’s literally come on bike rides with local advocates. Pia supported a DOT bike helmet giveaway … on a street that is absurdly dangerous for cyclists to ride on. I would put money on Brian’s openness to learning more about the ROW law because quite honestly, he did not fully know about its complexities when I spoke to him. However, the issues he does know about like need for protected bike lanes… he is firm. And willing to stand up to the CB naysayers who bark about bike lanes as some sort of root cause for gentrification.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    It is indeed a red flag. But I think it’s one that could be lowered in the long run. Pia has only harped on the need for education, which is nice in theory but has no true teeth. Brian will stick his neck out for needed infrastructure. and seriously weigh the pros and cons, both local and citywide, of large scale policy reforms we need. Pia also did NOT commit to Move NY. That is a much bigger flag for me. It’s a topic that’s been on the table for a decade. If she still doesn’t see the need for fair bridge tolling, why think she will change now? If Brian needs to be pushed on the ROW law, that’s a topic half the city council still needs a better grasp on as well.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Agreed. It’s a bad word flub. But I’ve heard both of them make it. I know Brian’s commitment to Vision Zero is firm and earned him a StreetsPAC endorsement. Pia is a good local leader, but not City Hall material in my opinion.

    STREETSPAC endorsement statement…
    “Council District 40, Brooklyn: Brian Cunningham (Challenger) – Cunningham, born and raised in Flatbush, is a former State Senate and City Council staffer. He’s dedicated to making Vision Zero projects a local priority. While another contender for the seat, Pia Raymond, has done noteworthy work to increase street safety along the Nostrand Avenue corridor, we are backing Cunningham for his commitment to advocate for expansion of the area’s nascent bike lanes along Empire Boulevard, Brooklyn Avenue, and Kingston Avenue, along with his support for a robust proposal to create a safe pedestrian plaza at the Franklin Avenue triangle. He also pledges to make Prospect Park permanently car-free, and to work with the MTA to give the Prospect Park subway station the much-needed facelift straphangers deserve.”

  • Andrew

    Bus drivers should not be held to a different standard that private drivers.

    I disagree. Bus drivers, and other professional drivers, should be held to a higher standard than private drivers.

  • Vooch

    good insight – thanks

  • kevd

    The mandatory parking minimum answer from Cunningham isn’t great either.
    He represents the densest zip code in Kings County, where housing costs are rising rapidly, driving out many long term residents, the vast majority of whom do not own vehicles – but he’s committed to parking minimums that INCREASE the cost of new construction and reduce the supply of new units? That will only accelerate the displacement he is opposed to.
    There are many things broken about our affordable housing policies (some of which he seems to get) and mandatory parking minimums is one of them.

    Still think he’s better than Eugene and the only challenger who can win.
    With all the new development going on in the fighting 40th (lots of 6-10 story rental and condo buildings with 40 – 150 units going up) fewer parking spots = more apts. And it could mean more affordable apts.

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