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Nicole Paultre-Bell admits she may not have the years of political experience that some of her fellow contenders vying to fill the seat held by the late City Councilman Thomas White, but she says her passion for community activism would make her a great leader and change southeast Queens for the better.
Paultre-Bell, 26, the fiancée of police shooting victim Sean Bell, said her decision to throw her hat into the special non-partisan election Nov. 2 was made based on what she experienced in her years of activism following the 2006 shooting.
Although she raised awareness for issues such as police brutality and gun control, the mother of two said she could bring more change with a seat in City Hall.
“Marching and press conferences bring attention, but we need results,” she said in an interview last week.
Since announcing her run in September, just weeks after White died of cancer, Paultre-Bell said she began going door-to-door in the 28th Council District’s neighborhoods of Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park and has not only gained insight into her constituents’ concerns but also a better rapport with her potential voters.
“A lot of people have a preconceived notion of what they feel about me,” she said. “Once I engage in a dialogue, a lot of community residents say, ‘Wow. I really got to know you and I support you.’”
The candidate said she would continue to focus on stronger gun laws if elected to office. She cited the large number of shootings in southeast Queens over the last few years, especially among the youth, as a wake-up call to the government to make a tougher effort to keep guns off the streets.
“It’s sad when young kids are losing their lives to guns. These are my friends,” she said.
Paultre-Bell also said she would focus on better relations between the police and the community. Despite what happened to her high school sweetheart, she said she still supports the NYPD but said the department needed to do a better job at earning the trust of the community.
“We all need the police,” she said.
The candidate said she has been getting help from her political supporters — Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) — who she said always answer her calls for help on any issue she is not familiar with. Paultre-Bell, who said she would continue her undergraduate studies at York College if elected, said she would continue to reach out to constituents and colleagues and adapt her agenda to meet their needs.
“I don’t have all the answers, but I am willing to learn,” she said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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