Felicia Kalan, the Republican nominee for New York City Council’s District 22 covering Astoria, Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, Woodside, and Rikers Island in Queens, is not running as an ideologue in her race.
“I wish when it comes to city council, [it would be] about local issues, about making sure sanitation and your schools are funded, [and] our agencies are running,” Kalan said.
Kalan sees her opportunity in the politics of her opponent, Democratic nominee Tiffany Cabán, a far-left candidate who has the support of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) as well as extreme left national Democratic figures including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT).
Kalan says Cabán is too focused on national left-wing causes that don’t reflect the local Queens community.
“We did surveys very early on, and asked, What is the number one issue,” Kalan said. “This was for Democrats, Republicans, unaffiliated voters. Seventy-five percent of people said public safety.”
“Her entire platform is about the carceral [jail] system,” Kalan said of Cabán. “When you have a community that cares about public safety, and yet you come in with an agenda that’s all about disbanding the NYPD… that’s not what the community wants; she’s very out of touch.”
Kalan’s platform focuses on these local concerns. Kalan is also refraining from weighing in on the mayoral race between Eric Adams and Curtis Sliwa, the Republican nominee. She says she’ll work with either one, and pointed to Adams public safety platform as an area where she could reach across the aisle.
Kalan appeals to voters with her experience as a parent, especially during the COVID pandemic that saw her take time off work to care for her young children.
“I became a teacher, alongside my husband, we juggled a lot,” Kalan said. “As a mom, as a woman, a lot of women had to leave the workforce, and raise their children.”
Kalan wants the priority of city government to be on investing in small businesses and businesses owned by women, childcare, and education. Many of these policies mirror concerns echoed in the Democratic primary, including reducing the regulatory and tax burden on local businesses.
If Kalan were to be elected to the seat, she would look to build a Republican Party in the city that offered another choice outside of the Democratic primaries that often decide local politics.
Whether Kalan, a Republican, can gain traction in the Democratic heavy district is another matter. The departing incumbent, Costa Constantinides, won his most recent election in 2017 with 93% of the vote and his original 2013 race with 65% support.
“I believe that when both parties are represented, [we] will have balanced, well thought out solutions, instead of what we’re seeing now,” Kalan said. “The real Democrat Party versus the DSA candidates. And that’s kind of where the real race lies. Instead, we need to bring balance.”