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StreetsPAC Endorses Six Challengers in June 23 Primary

3:23 PM EDT on June 12, 2020

The six challengers who got StreetsPAC’s endorsement are (clockwise from top left): Katherine Walsh, Amanda Septimo, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Rajiv Gowda, Emily Gallagher and Mary Jobaida.

StreetsPACa political action committee “dedicated to improving the safety, mobility and livability” of city streets — has endorsed six challengers to incumbent State Senators and Assembly Members among the 24 endorsements it issued today for the June 23 primary and the November general election.

The challenger endorsements went to:

    • Rajiv Gowda, running to unseat Sen. Diane Savino in the 23rd District, covering Staten Island and part of Brooklyn.
    • Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, seeking the central Queens seat of 34th District Assembly Member Michael DenDekker.
    • Mary Jobaida, who would replace Assembly Member Catherine Nolan in western Queens's 37th District.
    • Emily Gallagher, who is challenging Assembly Member Joe Lentol for the North Brooklyn (50th District) seat he's held since Nixon was president.
    • Katherine Walsh, looking to dislodge longtime Brooklyn Assembly Member Felix Ortiz for the 51st District seat of Sunset Park.
    • Amanda Septimo, who seeks to unseat Bronx Assembly Member Carmen Arroyo in the 84th District. (Arroyo no longer appears on the ballot because she filed fraudulent petitions.)

“Our endorsees are a diverse group, representing all five boroughs and including incumbents (several of whom have earned past StreetsPAC endorsements), challengers to sitting electeds, and candidates for open seats,” StreetsPAC Executive Director Eric McClure wrote in the announcement. 

All endorsees are Democrats. StreetsPAC has been making endorsements since 2013. (Early voting has opened. To find your polling place, click here.)

McClure cited the challengers' pro-transit and pro-safety positions as his reasons for preferring them over the incumbents, in some cases referencing the incumbents' lackluster records. Here are some excerpts:

Gowda, a former chairman of his community board’s transportation panel, is “committed to fighting for a pedestrian and bicycle path on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, reactivation of Staten Island’s North Shore rail line, and major improvements to the district’s bike lanes.”

González-Rojas’s “bold plan” to redesign dangerous Northern Boulevard makes her the most likely candidate in a multi-candidate race to prevail against the “mediocre” incumbent.

Jobaida, who “wants to grow and electrify the bus network, increase accessibility in the transit system, build out bike lane infrastructure throughout the district, expand the Fair Fares program, and reverse the hiring of 500 new MTA police” deserves the nod over the Nolan, who has an “undistinguished record on transportation issues,” according to StreetsPAC.

McClure cited the “passionate and devoted base of support” of Gallagher, a street-safety advocate and bike commuter, for choosing her over Lentol, who he said has “been willing to listen to and work with” advocates but has passed his prime. “It feels like we’re at an inflection point, as a nation and a city,” McClure wrote. “Change is unfolding all around us.”

Walsh, meanwhile, supports StreetsPAC’s priorities of ensuring the smooth roll-out of congestion, enhanced MTA funding, electrification of delivery vehicles and the use of e-bikes for last-mile deliveries. 

As for Septimo, “as a teenage activist with the Point CDC, she helped secure improvements to bus service in the Bronx, and advocated for congestion pricing in its first incarnation,” McClure wrote. “She wants the MTA to invest in better bus service as it redesigns the Bronx Network, consistent with her view that transportation is at its heart an issue of equity.”

Jabari Brisport for Brooklyn’s 25th Senate District (Bedford-Stuyvesant and Red Hook); Khaleel Anderson for Queen’s 31st Assembly District (Southeast Queens, including Jamaica and the Rockaways); Justin Cohen for Brooklyn’s 56th Assembly District (Bedford-Stuyvesant and Northern Crown Heights); and Chantel Jackson for the Bronx’s 79th Assembly District (central Bronx, including Concourse Village, Morrisania and Crotona).

Brisport offered a “detailed and progressive transportation platform, which includes advocating to expand the zone for congestion pricing... into Downtown Brooklyn.” 

Anderson “wants to see bus service improved,...and is an advocate for expanding the LIRR's Atlantic Ticket to the Rockaways.” Anderson also “will bring a youthful energy to Albany that would greatly benefit the 31st District.” 

Cohen “will advocate for improved east-west bus connections in Brooklyn” and “supports further reductions to speed limits.” 

Jackson is “committed to working to expand the Bronx's bike network...[and would] like to see improvements in bus service.”

Among the incumbents, StreetsPAC endorsed State Sens. Julia Salazar (18th District, Queens), Robert Jackson (31st District, Manhattan-Bronx), Luis Sepulveda (32nd District, Bronx), and Alessandra Biaggi (34th Senate District, Bronx ); and Assembly Members Nili Rozic (25th District, Queens), Aravella Simotas (36th District, Queens), Catalina Cruz (39th District, Queens), Robert Carroll (44th District, Brooklyn), Jo Anne Simon (52nd District, Brooklyn), Walter Mosley (57th District, Brooklyn), Yuh-Line Niou (65th District, Manhattan), Dan Quart (73rd District, Manhattan), Harvey Epstein (74th District, Manhattan), and Jeffrey Dinowitz (81st District, Bronx).

StreetsPAC, a not-for-profit organization, is registered with the New York State Board of Elections and the New York City Campaign Finance Board. 

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