Vote Paladino in GOP Primary

City Council District 19, which includes College Point, Whitestone, Malba, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, North Flushing and Auburndale, has been represented by Paul Vallone since 2013. Facing term limits that prevent him from running for office again this year, the district could elect its first Republican official in over a decade.
We know Vickie Paladino would be an outspoken member of the City Council who would fight to represent her district and the values of its constituents. While some locals view her as a polarizing figure, her work in rejuvenating The Whitestone Republican club is a clear testament to her leadership skills and Paladino’s ability to garner grassroots support among conservatives.
While she has an unproven track record in terms of enacting legislation, we view Paladino’s tenacity as one of her greatest assets and something that would command attention among city officials.
John-Alexander Sakelos is a resident of Bayside and the contender to Paladino on the Republican line. While his campaign is more agenda-driven than Paladino’s, our paper didn’t get the impression that he was engaging door-to-door with voters as much as she was.
We see him as an up-and-coming Republican who is young and full of potential, but in this election Paladino’s fighting spirit and her leadership experience make her our choice.

Schools honored for app concepts

M.S. 358 and I.S. 145 were two of six schools honored with a Diversity in Tech awards.
Students developed concept for original apps to address issues in their communities in partnership with the New York-based tech education nonprofit
“We implemented this program with our entire 6th grade, which is about 100 students, during their technology class periods,” said M.S. 358 teacher Narin Prum. “We met with students twice a week and assigned work on other days.”
One student group at I.S. 145 in Jackson Heights designed an app for tenant and landlord communication. The app was inspired by an interview the students held with Andrew Sokolf Diaz, president of the 89th Street Tenants Association after a fire in the building displaced residents.
“I’m really hopeful about the future of our students seeing all the creative solutions they came up with as they were interviewing people in our community,” said Pauline Kim, a teacher at I.S. 145.
Meanwhile, a student group in M.S. 358 in Hillcrest created the Feed Poverty End Poverty app. Anyone in need of food can sign up to receive free food.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Mouse trained over 8,000 NYC public school teachers across all five boroughs to be remote educators and keep students learning during the pandemic.
“The proportion of women, Black, and Latinx employees at tech firms in the United States is lower than the private sector average,” said Larry Lieberman, CEO of “At Mouse, it is our highest priority to prepare historically excluded and underrepresented communities for leadership careers in STEM.”

Vote Lee in the 19th

Richard Lee, a candidate for City Council in northeast Queens, has a reputation in city government as a knowledgeable champion for fiscally responsible budgets, both during he time working in the City Council and more recently as budget director in the borough president’s office.
He is accessible, engaging and articulate, and he is our top choice in a district that includes College Point, Whitestone, Douglaston, Bayside and Little Neck.
People who know Lee say he is easy to work with and knows how to get things done within the system, which we believe will allow him to bring more resources to the district.
Austin Shafran is also a good candidate, has the broad support of the labor movement and the Queens Democratic Party, and he is our second choice for the seat.
While Avella has a long career in government, actually held the same seat for eight years, and is known as a fighter for his community, we think it’s time to give someone else a chance.
Lee is our choice in the Democratic Primary.

Vote Cabán in Astoria

The City Council seat in the 22nd District covering Astoria and Long Island City, Woodside and Jackson Heights has a half-dozen candidates running in the Democratic Primary.
Accessibility is a key issue for us. We had concerns with how accessible and responsive she would be if elected, but our concerns were short lived, as she discussed her passion on issues like health and public safety.
If she can field the district’s needs the way she handled the softball on Sunday at Elmjack Little League field, we’ll be okay.
It is quite rare for a new member of City Council to make an immediate impact. We see her as long-term political figure that represents this generation. We already have heard some scuttlebutt that she will make a bid for speaker if she wins.
Trying to win a leadership role in the City Council might be a handicap for her if she has to juggle a progressive agenda while trying to focus on constituents in the district. If she takes on too much, it won’t be good.
But the community does have a better chance of being relevant if Tiffany Caban wins.
Evie Hantzopoulos is a well known candidate as a member on the community board. However, her opposition to any kind of development in the district is a non-starter for us.

Vote Singh in 32nd

The City Council’s 32nd District includes the Rockaways, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, and Woodhaven.
Our paper believes that Felicia Singh is the candidate in the Democratic Primary best equipped to deal with the issues facing all parts of this expansive and diverse district.
Her plan to improve upon the area’s climate resiliency is incredibly robust and stood out compared to other people running in this race. Singh’s experience as an educator is also notable.
Her perspective gave us the impression that she could do a lot of work addressing some of the district’s underlying inequality by desegregating schools and supporting multilingual learners. Also, we believe Singh’s commitment to fixing the district’s lack of public transportation options is spot on and would be a huge benefit to the community.
We are confident that no family will go overlooked with Singh leading the district. She’s lived in Ozone Park her entire life and is clearly dedicated to improving the district in a way that will benefit all of its constituents. Singh also knows the Rockaways, and her plans to create equity was the driving force behind our endorsement.

Planning for a big Woodhaven homecoming

Brian Hyland is coming home to Woodhaven, the town where he grew up, went to school and where he lived when he sang the #1 smash hit “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”
Just imagine that for a moment. He was 16 years old, a graduate of St. Thomas the Apostle and student at Franklin K. Lane High School, and a neighborhood kid who lived off 78th Street.
His dad belonged to a club that met around the corner at the Union Course Bar, known today as Neir’s Tavern.
With success came the opportunity to move, which his family took, relocating to Long Island. But in his heart, Hyland remained a kid from Woodhaven.
He went on to have a long career, scoring nearly two-dozen Top 100 hits along the way, including “Sealed With A Kiss” and “Gypsy Woman.” He still tours today. We went to see him at Westbury Music Fair in 2019 before the world upended for a year, and he’s playing in September in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
And one week after he leaves that the stage, Hyland will be back in Woodhaven for a homecoming party like we haven’t seen around here in ages.
The main event will be an unveiling of a sign at the home he grew up in near the corner of 78th Street and 87th Road. It won’t be one of those blue-and-yellow markers you are used to seeing around town; you aren’t allowed to put those up for living people.
Instead, with the consent of the homeowners, we will be placing a beautiful marker on the property of the house for all to see. That ceremony begins at 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 18, and everyone is welcome to attend.
That has to be a bit of a surreal moment for someone, but also a nice one. We’ve all revisited our childhood homes. Brian Hyland has done the same whenever he visited Woodhaven on one of his many trips back to the New York City area for a show.
No matter how many years go by, your childhood home is still your home. That is where you grew up, and if you look hard enough and close your eyes you can see your loved ones coming out the front door.
After the ceremony, we’ll take a short walk, an Itsy Bitsy Parade you might say, over to Neir’s Tavern where we’ll have a great big “welcome home” bash for Hyland.
We’re expecting a lot of former residents of Woodhaven to come for the day, so it will be a homecoming party for a lot of people.
But if you’d like to avoid the crowds and say welcome home to Brian Hyland before the ceremony, the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society is hosting a private gathering, a meet-and-greet with Brian.
Everyone who attends the will receive an autographed item and get a nice photograph taken with him. Food and beverages will be provided.
Tickets are $75 and all proceeds will used to pay for the sign and the party. The locale of the meet-and-greet is being kept under wraps, but it will be in the confines of Woodhaven.
One special guest that weekend will be Laurie Ennd. She manages the “Memories Growing Up In Woodhaven” group on Facebook and was instrumental in making this happen.
Again, everyone is invited to the ceremony at 3 p.m. and the party afterwards at Neir’s (Brian will be attending both), but if you would like the full homecoming experience, email us at and get a ticket for the meet-and-greet.
There are a limited number of tickets (we are keeping the attendance low), and they are going fast. It’s going to be a great weekend and we are really looking forward to welcoming Brian home.
One last thing, Make Music NYC will be coming to Woodhaven this Monday, June 21. There will be live music at Forest Parkway Plaza at Jamaica Avenue from 3 to 6 p.m. This event is sponsored by the Woodhaven Business Improvement District.
This will also mark the public debut of the Woodhaven Art Circle, a collection of artists from our community. Several artists will be showing off their work and we’re hoping other local artists will attend and introduce themselves to the group.
And we’ll also be looking for volunteers to make a tribute video for Brian Hyland, so come Monday and enjoy some music as we start planning the biggest homecoming party Woodhaven has seen in ages!

Holden gets our nod in 30th

Robert Holden has held a City Council seat representing Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale, and parts of Ridgewood and Woodhaven for three years.
A lifelong civic leader, few will argue that his hard work and determination to protect the neighborhood (at all costs) has two byproducts: a persona that vilifies enemies quickly and strong love/hate feelings toward him.
Holden, the Republican-turned-Democrat, who, if he does not win in the Democratic Primary will be given the Republican line in November’s general election, is one of the handful of moderates in the city council that holds others accountable.
We know that when the city looks at his neighborhood, they think twice before ignoring its need. We know that when a constituent is in trouble, his office has consistently given attention to the matter.
You would be surprised at the phone calls we get in other districts from people who claim they don’t get a response from their council person.
An endorsement for Holden is an easy nod for us.
Juan Padilla is a Maspeth resident we profiled in our newspaper earlier this year. His passion for a progressive agenda jumps off the page, and we see him as a formidable candidate in the near future. But at this time, Holden has just done too much positive work and is more in touch with the community.
His constituents especially like how accessible he is. We agree, and say he deserves another term in office.

Administrator celebrates 40 years at Martin Luther School

James Regan went from being a student at Matin Luther School to executive director.
“Jim is the most action-orientated person,” said James Bunn, director of Marketing at Martin Luther. “His legacy is going to be one of vision, looking at horizons, opportunities, and going for things to get it done.”
For the last four years, Regan has served as executive director of the school. He led the “Reset For Growth” Initiative, which resulted in an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the update the building and the school’s technology.
“We made changes so that you, the customer, want to bring your children into our building and you want to feel good about it,” said Regan.
Regan graduated from Martin Luther in 1976. He returned in 1978, but in 1979 left for two years for a post at Lexington School for the Deaf.
He returned to Martin Luther as a teacher and head wrestling coach, positions he held from 1981 to 2013. He led the team to an Independent Private & Parochial Schools championship in 2011.
He has served as director of Athletics since 1985, and in 2012 was appointed principal.
“I want to leave the school in a place where it will continue to succeed for the next 50 years,” Regan said.
Martin Luther School approved for accreditation by the New York State Association of Independent Schools Board of Trustees at its meeting held on June 1.
“We are very proud of our accreditation by NYSAIS,” Regan said. “It is important for our parents, students, and community to see the NYSAIS symbol we earned so they know that we hold ourselves to the highest possible standards in all we do so our students can thrive and be their very best both academically and socially.
“The rigorous evaluation process we underwent also resulted in our continual refinement of where and how we want to meet the ever-changing demands of education in our world today,” he added.

Gagarin & Schulman get our votes in District 29

City Council District 29 includes Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill. With nine candidates in the Democratic primary, it was impossible for us to interview everyone running in this race, but our paper feels strongly about two of them.
We believe that Aleda Gagarin is the best candidate for this district followed closely by Lynn Schulman.
At the forefront of Gagarin’s campaign is responsible budget management, and her experience in urban planning has informed her perspective on that issue. She knows a lot about how the city distributes its resources in terms of funding and how to direct it in a way that’s more efficient and beneficial to the people living in her area.
From how the city can redefine affordable housing to improving senior services, Gagarin’s vision for the district is inclusive and built around fostering a sense of community between residents.
Schulman was a close second in receiving our endorsement. She has an outstanding career in public service and her policy insights into public transportation are incredibly comprehensive. She understands some of the unique mobility issues facing the district’s elderly community and is dedicated to solving them.
Her political experience working with the City Council is admirable, and we know she would do a fantastic job.

Former slave receives tombstone 125 years after her death

Millie Tunnell’s new headstone will be memorialized on Juneteenth in Maple Grove Cemetery.
The one-of-a-kind plaque honoring Tunnell, who lived in Jamaica and passed away at the age of 111, is the product of a collaboration between The Kew-Forest School and The Friends of Maple Grove.
A group of high school students led by art teacher Narges Anvar worked closely with cemetery historians, Helen Day and Carl Ballenas, to piece together the life story of Tunnell and design a monument that would honor her legacy.
Through diligent research, Day and Ballenas were able to locate her previously unmarked grave using old maps of the cemetery’s layout. They became determined to memorialize Tunnell when they discovered a set of newspaper clippings printed over 125 years ago that provided insight into her life.
After Tunnell had reached her 100th birthday, reporters would write stories on her annually until her passing in 1896. According to those articles, Tunnell had a sharp memory, liked to smoke a corncob pipe and was able to thread a sewing needle without using glasses.
She explained that she was born into slavery in Accomack County, Virginia, on the Tunnell plantation and often recounted the time she met George Washington.
Tunnell married Merrick Ewell from the nearby Ewell plantation and bore nine children. Ewell was freed, and fearing he would be enslaved again he fled to Queens.
When the owner of the Tunnell plantation died in 1855, his will stated that his 19 slaves, including Tunnell and her children, were to be set free.
However, the will was contested, and the court determined that a sum of $1,269 – around $36,000 today – was to be paid by Tunnell before her and her family were allowed to leave. It took her just over five years to gain that freedom.
Despite a trove of historical information, Day and Ballenas couldn’t find any pictures of Tunnell, so they reached out to Anvar, who passed on their work to her students and asked them to create an illustration that would express Tunnell’s “courage, strength and nobility.”
“It was just perfect,” Anvar said in reference to Annie Vaca’s winning design. “It was a whole collaborative process, and I thought this was a great opportunity for students to get involved with something historically significant while learning about the humanitarian impact of art.”
The illustration on Tunnell’s new plaque features a reinterpretation of an old anti-slavery logo. It shows the image of a Black woman now standing up instead of kneeling down, and triumphantly dropping a set of shackles to the floor. There are also nine birds flying off into the distance that represent each member of the Tunnell family buried at Maple Grove Cemetery.
“There’s a bridge here between the past and the present and my aim is to take history and make it alive,” said Ballenas, who’s organized numerous monuments in Maple Grove Cemetery to people that have been overlooked.
“People engage with history in a different way when you explore it through someone’s personal perspective,” he added. “It gets people curious and students want to learn about history all of a sudden because it’s connected with a part of their life.”

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