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The lines separating church and state in southeast Queens have always been blurred. The black churches and their pastors continue to be powerful influences in the community.
The churches feed the hungry and build housing for the poor, and if a candidate wants votes in this part of Queens, they are must-stop places.
Recently, Bill Thompson, who is gearing up for a run for mayor next year, attended a breakfast at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center attended by members of Clergy United for Community Empowerment, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks and a contingency from the United Black Men of Queens County.
The former head of the city Board of Education was clear about his intentions.
“I am running for the mayor of New York City, and with your help I will be the next mayor,” he said.
Although the turnout was small, the leaders included some of the most powerful voices in this part of Queens.
It was an opportunity for the pastors and others to get the candidate’s views on issues important to them and their congregations. On stop-and-frisk, Thompson said, “I support the police and I support stop-and-frisk, but not the way it’s being used now. Someone shouldn’t be stopped just because of what they look like.”
He did not offer a solution for identifying the people most likely to be carrying a gun.
Thompson criticized the mayor’s handling of education.
“So many of our kids are graduating school but can’t get into college because they can’t do college-level work,” he said.
Thompson said he did not support reinstating the board, which was replaced by the city Department of Education.
Education will be the biggest challenge facing the city’s next mayor. Hopefully, Thompson or whoever that might be will see that the current plan to close struggling schools, dismiss all the teachers and then sprinkle the schools with fairy dust and reopen them with new names is bogus.
We are pleased Thompson has thrown his hat in the ring and had the wisdom to listen to some of the most important leaders in this part of Queens.
Let the campaign and dialogue begin.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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