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Veras touts civic work in race

TimesLedger Newspapers

Andrea Veras wants to bring her experience as a Briarwood community activist to city government and is running to replace term-limited City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows).

“I have already made an impact in my community,” she said. “I’ve already showed that when I promise something, I comply.”

Veras is the founder of the Briarwood Task Force and the Briarwood Action Network, which were largely created to deal with continuing vandalism in her area.

Miscreants have made a habit of smashing car windows and defacing a Manton Street concrete wall, which she has campaigned against and hopes to put a stop to if she is elected in November by working with the NYPD to install cameras already funded through Gennaro’s office.

Veras is in a Democratic primary against former Assemblyman Rory Lancman, while Republicans Alexander Blishteyn and Mujib Rahman are also hoping for a shot at the seat, which includes Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica Estates and a portion of Jamaica.

On education, Veras would like to expand after-school programs, along with pre-kindergarten services provided by the city Department of Education and several community-based organizations.

“It’s the first issue,” she said. “Education is needed to make the economy grow.”

Both initiatives depend on finding the cash — education already comprises the largest portion of the city budget — which Veras said can be squeezed out by cutting down on the administration’s energy use, for example.

Veras supports charter schools and suggested creating an independent fiscal adviser for the department.The city comptroller is currently responsible for ensuring the city spends its money wisely.

She was born in the Dominican Republic and left her job as a banker to move to New York in 1990 with her three children. She worked at a number of jobs before joining the Legal Aid Society, where she now works as part of the nonprofit’s legal support staff.

She has been canvassing the neighborhoods of the district and has found South Asian seniors want to see more centers opened in the area, while Jamaica residents complained about garbage and noise.

“There is nothing they can do if they don’t have a senior center,” she said.

Jamaica is undergoing development in its commercial corridor, and Veras wants to ensure developers who might need permits from the city are building plazas and community spaces that will attract people to the area. For example, she said a proposed Major League Soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park would been an economic boon to the borough.

“Construction projects like that are always good in the long run, because they bring a lot of money to the city,” she said.

Though she hopes to tangle with Lancman throughout the primary, the petitioning period to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot is not over until July 11.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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