As Queens District Attorney-elect Melinda Katz, the current borough president, works with her 31-member committee to transition to her new role as the chief prosecutor for the most diverse county in the country, Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) has laid out her potential plans as Borough President with Queens County Politics.
The London-born immigrant came to the United States in 1982 at 10-years-old and grew up with a Jamaican mother who was a registered nurse and a Guyanese father who was a carpenter in Hollis and South Ozone Park, but it wasn’t until she was a teenager and tried to earn money on her own that she realized that her family was undocumented.
“I didn’t become a citizen until my first daughter was born and she is now 21,” said Hyndman. “We had a visa to come over from England, but we overstayed. I didn’t realize this until I was a teenager and tried to get a job.”
Hyndman’s story was similar to that of many young immigrants today who currently risk deportation because of their undocumented status who live in fear of being taken from the only home they have ever known, but she wants to help those who find themselves in similar situations.
“When I talk about immigrants I understand what it’s like and how it is to live under the radar in this city, state and federal administration,” said Hyndman. “As immigrants in Queens, it is incumbent on us to know our rights, to know what it is that ICE can ask you and how to comply to the law without putting yourself at risk.”
As a possible borough president, Hyndman wants to work with all of the churches, temples, synagogues and other houses of worship in Queens to issue a public information campaign to let the parishioners know how to be safe.
“I want to work with the city to make these houses of worship sanctuaries so that our immigrants who are undocumented feel safe if there is an event where ICE descends upon a community,” said Hyndman. “Right now it seems kind of quiet in terms of the Trump administration, but we should make sure that we are diligent.”
Prior to her work in the State Legislator, Hyndman served as a member of the Education Committee for both community boards 12 and 13, she was the president of the city’s DOE Community District Education Council 29, she worked as a Senior Professional Conduct Investigator for the state’s DOE and co-founded the Long Island Barber Institute.
She held three other positions in the education field and as assemblywoman brought in $30 million to her district, which includes Springfield Gardens, St. Albans, Rosedale, Addisleigh Park, Laurelton and Jamaica, but she wants to do more for the entire borough.
“When it is time for the Albany budget and the city budget I will make sure that Queens gets its fair share,” said Hyndman. “We are behind, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan when it comes time for the allocation of resources for our schools. It’s time for us to have a bigger voice and a stronger demand that our schools get what we need.”
Hyndman is advocating for teachers to get the continuing education they need and to decrease class sizes with new construction.
“There is money in development, there is money in the Department of Education that we could be creative with that as we development grows we build schools,” said Hyndman. “They do it in Manhattan and they do it in Brooklyn and it is called the Education Construction Fund. It’s where business and public entities work together so that as construction grows we build schools.”
She also supports vocational schools and vocational programs in high schools.
“College is not for everybody,” said Hyndman. “We need to have vocational programs in high schools that could lead to apprenticeships, which could lead to union jobs.”
While she doesn’t want the Specialized High School tests to be eliminated, she does believe that shouldn’t be the only criteria to allow entrance into elite eight schools that accept them.
“If you have a test, an average of the student’s junior high school performance and an average of the state test that are given all the way from the third grade then you can use that to determine if they should be in a specialized high school.”
When it comes to development, Hyndman supports the erection of affordable housing for seniors so they have a place of their own where their needs could be met with a limited income, and she wants to see more 100 percent affordable units and mixed-income units that ensure that all people from Queens have access to homes.
“There are some people that make $30,000 a year and there are people who make $100,000 a year and they should all be able to live in the same building for different prices,” said Hyndman. “On Archer Avenue, there is a 100 percent affordable apartment complex, so it is being done. We need to increase that inventory because that is the reason we have a homeless problem.”
Politicians need to demand that any affordable housing complex that goes up in any district is available to people of every income, according to Hyndman.
“We also need to make sure that they are green and are energy certified,” said Hyndman. “We must make sure that more developments use solar energy and have green space on rooftops without reducing the green spaces that we already have.”
Before the addition of more bike lanes and ferries becomes a focus of the city and borough, Hyndman wants there to be better bus and train service first.
“We have to make sure that for people who live in transportation deserts in the south and northeast Queens that we have to reduce prices,” said Hyndman. “We talk about ferries, but what about the people that don’t live near water.”
Hyndman believes that Queens should keep its tradition of having a woman as the borough president.
“As a working mom, educator and homeowner I understand the daily lives of the working-class people of the community,” said Hyndman. “As a woman, as a leader, not having been in government as long as other people, I bring a fresh perspective steeped in advocacy and I’m not beholden, I’m beholden to the people of Queens. Also, it has been a woman’s seat for the last three borough presidents and I still believe that it should be a woman’s seat.”