If there was any district in New York City where a Green Party candidate, independent of the political machine system, had the potential to get elected, it is in Astoria’s 22nd District, Lynne Serpe said.
The environmental activist threw her name into the race to replace outgoing City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), along with several other major party candidates like Democratic District Leader Costa Constantinides, Democrat John Ciafone, Conservative and Independence candidate Danielle De Stefano, Democrat Constantino “Gus” Prentzas and former New York Young Republican Club President Daniel Peterson.
The winner will go on to represent the 22nd District, which includes Astoria, Long Island City and parts of Jackson Heights.
“Here in New York City, we are effectively a one-party town,” Serpe said. “But Council District 22 is diverse and I feel people here are open to the idea of another party and to a new kind of politics.”
Serpe, a consultant to the Queens Library, said some issues she was focusing her campaign on included expanding library services, fighting out-of-character development in her district, resisting air and land pollution, improving energy efficiency and extending the borough’s bus services. Her voice has not differed much from her previous run for the same seat in 2009, when the current councilman was re-elected.
“People saw in my last run for Council that I am willing to go against the political machine,” Serpe said. “I’m walking the talk.”
Serpe said a top priority of her Council office would be preservation and conservation of environmental resources, which would ultimately save the city money. Her emphasis on protecting her district’s greenspace, she said, was one of the things that set her apart from her opponents.
“We have finite resources,” Serpe said. “We have to figure out how to best use them.”
Serpe said she already had experience in government, having worked as the national voting system reform coordinator for the New Zealand Parliament. She also ran a constituency office for several other Green members of Parliament, she said.
On the home front, Serpe said she has helped draft legislation and lobby for groups such as League of Women Voters, Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the NAACP.
Experiences like that, Serpe said, would make for a seamless transition into the Council if she is elected in November.
“I would be ready to hit the ground running,” Serpe said. “What’s more important is that voters wouldn’t have to worry about party bossing. That is why we are asking them to vote Green and not machine.”
When asked about her district’s incumbent, Serpe said Vallone was one of the more conservative Democrats in the city. And after so many years with a Vallone in office, considering Vallone Jr.’s father served in the same seat from 1974-2001, it was time for a fresh voice in the district.
“After 39 years with the same family, it’s been about who you know,” Serpe said. “That could affect other things like discretionary budgeting. The Council needs a stronger stance in the budget process with more people participating in it.”