City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) stood Tuesday night on a stage at P.S. 17 Henry David Thoreau recalling the United States’ motto of “E pluribus unum” or “out of many, one.” He used this as a guide for what not only his district, but the rest of the country can do.
“As one, we will show our native son in the Oval Office that it is tolerance and kindness, not division and discord, that lies at the heart of the Queens we love, and the path of light for our nations,” he said.
Constaninides appeared at his annual State of the District address in front of over 50 people in a small auditorium. Before the speech, a handful of elected officials offered their comments to praise the City Councilman. Public Advocate Letitia James (D) referred to her friendship with Constantinides and described him as a champion of the people he represents.
“All of you are so blessed to have this young man represent you in the City Council. He truly is someone who really has great heart and commitment to great service,” James said.
In addition, recently-elected City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who named Constantinides as Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, anticipated working alongside him over the next four years.
“I have his back. Whatever he needs for this district, whatever he needs for the schools, the parks and public housing, I have his back. Having his back means I have your back,” he said.
After being introduced by Johnson, Constantinides delivered a near-hour long speech contrasting his vision with one in Washington DC. He derided a future offered by President Donald Trump and his allies as a path that will “see us regress as a society in ways we could not even imagine a year ago.”
Yet his future offered an opportunity for bipartisanship that links the country’s past of ensuring equality, while working together in solving problems such as climate change.
“This is the path we must recommit ourselves to and, more than anything, that I remain committed to in my remaining time in office,” he said.
Referring to his recent appointment by Johnson, Constantinides offered his vision of curbing the city’s carbon emissions and furthering investments in renewable energy. He announced that several bills are set to be introduced this year that will focus on the environment.
For example, he will soon introduce legislation that cuts carbon emissions from buildings. The city’s buildings account for 70 percent of emissions. As a result, Constantinides wants to set a cap on how much fuel buildings can use.
“This will not only help reduce emissions, but it will reduce neighborhood air pollution. Secondly, it will set an overall energy target that large buildings must meet,” he said.
Constantinides also wants to mitigate the impact of flooding on coastal communities. He acknowledged he could not do it alone and looked forward to working with other members on the Committee on Environment Protection to create a plan on flooding.
Aside from the environment, Constantinides touted success of investments in schools during his first term, including at P.S. 17. He listed nebulizers, or a device for people suffering from asthma, in every school, removal of classroom trailers, and solar panels on schools as a few objectives.
The City Councilmember recalled worries from residents on housing. He cited the growing unaffordability of homes, especially for senior citizens. He promised, by the end of his term, to create 500 affordable housing units for seniors.
“We are simply not the same community without our seniors,” he said.
“Our office has gotten too many anguished pleas to find help for decent housing,” said Constantinides. “We have a duty, together, to act now.”
Constantinides referred to the two roads again, especially with Trump’s State of the Union soon set to begin. He felt optimistic that New York and the country can move forward united to tackle problems.
“We know which path we need to take. We choose the path of community and friendship, not of distrust and fear,” he said.