Steven Raga, former chief of staff to Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, is running for City Council in District 26, which includes Long Island City, parts of Astoria, Dutch Kills, Sunnyside, and Woodside.
Raga is a Woodside native, which he says resonates with voters.
“What excites them is that somebody that has been in the district longer than a Citi Bike and actually knows the district is running,” said Raga. “If I lose, I am not going to leave to run somewhere else.”
Raga sits on the board of both Woodside on the Move and Queens Pride, and has been a member of Community Board 2 since 2016.
“I would be advocating for people on the ground, not any big entity that would bully this neighborhood,” said Raga. “I’ve been fighting them for 15 years and leading through different organizations.”
One of Raga’s top priorities is affordable housing. He would push to reform the Area Median Income (AMI) to reflect the cost of life in local communities more accurately.
“AMI in New York City is calculated with Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland counties, which if you’re in the South Bronx should not be in consideration of what you’ll be paying for living at your place,” said Raga.
Raga’s proposal is to have the lowest AMI within either zip codes or a 10 to 20-mile radius be the default. He is also a supporter of the Green Roof Policy and making it a key part of any future developments.
Another top priority for Raga is to build a women’s shelter in the district.
“There’s only two in Queens, one in Jamaica and one in Flushing,” said Raga. “All the top rated ones are in Manhattan. I think part of the housing crisis is homelessness and the top reason for homelessness, especially for women, is domestic violence.”
Raga hopes to be collaborative elected official who brings the community together.
“Hopefully, we can have Western Queens be a beacon for civic engagement because that’s the space I come from,” said Raga.