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Andrew Gounardes

StreetsPAC to Central Brooklyn Voters: Retire State Sen. Kevin Parker Now!

Who ya gonna snub?

The city's only political action committee devoted to safe streets is asking voters to retire longtime state Sen. Kevin Parker — and reward one of the legislature's most high-profile street safety advocates.

In its latest round of endorsements before the Aug. 23 primary, StreetsPAC chose Kaegan Mays-Williams over Parker, who has been in the Senate since 2003. A former prosecutor in Manhattan, Mays-Williams is primarily a gun-control advocate, but StreetsPAC Executive Director Eric McClure said she impressed the PAC's board with her questionnaire answers and a follow-up interview. Parker did not respond to the group's request for information.

"She's been touched closely by traffic violence: her best friend's father was struck and killed by a driver while crossing a street," McClure wrote in the group's endorsement. "She supports redesigning Brooklyn's bus network to simplify routes and speed commutes, and as a mom with a young child, she's committed to supporting expansion of a network of protected bike lanes throughout the 21st District."

Kaegan Mays-Williams
Kaegan Mays-Williams with a friend.
Kaegan Mays-Williams with a friend.

Meanwhile, McClure called out Parker as lackluster.

"He's never been a champion on these issues," McClure said. "Also, we're not going to offer incumbent insurance if the incumbent doesn't participate in our process and show interest."

If he's known to Streetsblog readers at all, Parker is known as the placard-abusing pol with anger-management issues. In 2018, he told a state staffer, "Kill yourself!" after she posted a picture of Parker's placarded car parked in a bike lane.

In 2009, he punched a NY Post photographer who was covering an alleged fight Parker had had with a Capitol parking attendant.

On the other side, earlier this year, Parker wrote a Streetsblog op-ed calling for a requirement that city police officers live in the five boroughs — a rule that street safety advocates have supported on the grounds that it may give officers a better feel for the streets they patrol and a better connection to the people they serve.

Mays-Williams has earned positive coverage in Bklyner, which called her "an alternative for those wishing to vote for someone who is not associated with the troubled Brooklyn Democrats, is not known for anger issues, and promises to show up for the constituents on issues that matter to them."

In a statement to Streetsblog, Mays-Williams said she was grateful to StreetsPAC for the endorsement and promised to "improve street safety and promote transportation efficiency, both are some of the main concerns that voters have shared with me on the campaign trail."

"My neighbors need dependable, accessible public transit, which will require redesigning the bus network to enhance transportation reliability," she added. "Our district also needs long-term investments in our transportation system, like the proposed Interborough Express, which will serve Midwood, Flatlands, and East Flatbush. Additionally, we need to make sure that people can safely use their bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation without fearing collisions with vehicles with more protected bike lanes."

Parker did not return a request for comment.

In other key endorsements by StreetsPAC:

    • Incumbent state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, who is best known for sponsoring and fighting for the bill to expand New York's speed camera system to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Beyond the speed camera bill, StreetsPAC added, "His bill requiring that the written portion of New York State's drivers' test include instruction in pedestrian and bicycle safety passed the legislature in June, and he also introduced a bill that would require pedestrian-safety ratings for motor vehicles. He's called for revoking the license of anyone who racks up three or more dangerous-driving violations within a one-year period, and he's been a staunch advocate for improved transit service and subway accessibility." Former City Council Member David Yassky is also running for this 29th District seat. McClure said the group liked Yassky, but "no one has accomplished more in Albany in the last four years than Andrew Gounardes."
    • Incumbent state Sen. Robert Jackson, who was a strong advocate for speed camera expansion and had earned several prior endorsements from the group, was snubbed in favor of Angel Vasquez, a former middle-school teacher and former Albany staffer, now a policy expert for the teachers' union. "A fan of Bogota's TransMilenio bus rapid transit system, he'd like to see that type of high-level service implemented in New York as part of a concerted effort to reduce driving in the city," the endorsement read. "He supports building out a more robust network of protected bike lanes uptown [in] the 31st District." McClure said that Jackson did not participate in the StreetsPAC process this year.
    • Incumbent state Sen. Jabori Brisport earned the group's nod because "he supports eliminating parking minimums across the city; connecting the 25th District's disjointed bike network, with an emphasis on protected lanes; and increasing access to secure bike parking, especially for NYCHA residents. He's committed to improving transit service, and supports traffic-calming redesigns of streets to slow down vehicles and improve safety."
    • In two open seats StreetsPAC chose:
      • Rajiv Gowda, a retired civil engineer, for the 23rd District covering the north shore of Staten Island and Coney Island. Gowda, the group said, "is committed to advocating for a pedestrian and bicycle path on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, reactivation of Staten Island's North Shore rail line, major upgrades to the district's bike lanes, and improved transit accessibility."
      • Christian Amato to succeed his boss, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who is running for Congress. "Amato is committed to expanding transportation options in the district as a means to reducing driving," StreetsPAC said. "As Vice Chair of CB11's Transportation Committee, he's championed the area's scooter-share pilot, and he wants to see Citi Bike expanded into the district, served by a better- connected and upgraded bike-lane network. He'll push to have the Interbrough Express extended to the Bronx, supports improvements to bus service, including dedicated bus lanes, and would like to see ferry service expanded and integrated with New York City Transit."
      • Kristen Gonzalez, who is seeking the new 59th District seat, which covers a hipster crescent in western Queens, north Brooklyn and the East Side of Manhattan, got the nod over better-financed candidate Elizabeth Crowley, a former Council member. The group praised Gonzalez's positions such as "making a number of streets within the 59th District car-free in order to improve safety and prioritize walking and biking." StreetsPAC also said Gonzales "is committed to improving conditions for the city's deliveristas, and to making the bike-share system affordable and available to all New Yorkers."

The state Senate and Congressional primaries are on Tuesday, Aug. 23, but early voting begins on Saturday, Aug. 13 and continues through Sunday, Aug. 21. Visit the New York City Board of Elections website for information. It is now too late to request an absentee ballot.

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