Tiffany Cabán Launches Campaign for City Council in Queens

Out queer City Council candidate Tiffany Cabán is returning to the campaign trail one year after a narrow loss in last year's race for Queens district attorney.
Reuters/ Jeenah Moon

One year after out queer public defender Tiffany Cabán suffered a heartbreaking loss in the Democratic primary race for Queens district attorney, she is setting her sights on the soon-to-be vacant City Council seat currently occupied by term-limited lawmaker Costa Constantinides.

Echoing many of the same themes that nearly propelled her to victory last year, Cabán huddled alongside her allies outside the Katch Astoria gastropub September 10 as she formally announced her campaign for City Council’s District 22 in 2021.

“I am running because this is where the work is,” Cabán, who has most recently worked as a national political organizer for the Working Families Party, said in a written statement. “I’m running for City Council because I love this community. From Astoria to Rikers Island, from Jackson Heights to Woodside, to East Elmhurst, I am running to represent every single person, in every single corner, of this district. I love the people who live here, and I believe that change is possible. Together, we will end the carceral system, establish a care economy, and implement a Green New Deal for New York City.”

Caban’s campaign website calls for reallocating police funding to social services, halting new jail construction, desegregating city schools, implementing a Green New Deal for the city, and more.

Cabán emerged as a long-shot candidate during her Queens DA campaign, but eventually caught fire and rose to prominence as a progressive alternative to then-Borough President Melinda Katz. Cabán strayed from the typical tough-on-crime stances expected from many DA candidates, instead becoming a key backer of the movement to fully decriminalize sex work and an advocate for reforms on cash bail and parole, among other issues.

Cabán’s insurgent campaign for DA ultimately drew national attention and influential endorsements from prominent members of Congress such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx and Queens, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Some of the same Queens lawmakers who backed her last year were again standing by her side as she kicked off her bid for City Council. She was joined by State Senators Jessica Ramos and Mike Gianaris, out gay Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, out gay District Leader Zachariah Boyer, District Leader Shawna Morlock, and Assembly candidate Jessica González-Rojas, who won her Democratic primary race earlier this summer.

“If the COVID-19 pandemic has made anything clear, it’s that now, more than ever, we need progressive leaders in City Council that aren’t afraid to stand up to the status quo,” Van Bramer said in a written statement. “From the time I met Tiffany, I was inspired by her dedication to fight for our most vulnerable populations and impressed by her innovative ways of finding solutions to complex issues. She is a true emblem of what it means to put people over politics. Today, I am proud to offer my support as she takes this fight to the City Council!”

Ramos also offered words of support for Cabán and praised her for her willingness to bring new ideas to the table.

“Growing up in Astoria wasn’t easy, and it’s become harder for working families over time and throughout this pandemic,” Ramos said in a written statement. “I trust Tiffany to make the right decisions and to bring our communities together in the pursuit of transformational justice.”

Although she lost her bid for DA by just 60 votes, election maps of the 2019 Democratic primary for Queens district attorney showed that Cabán easily carried her own City Council district and dominated western Queens overall, which gives her an early advantage in a crowded City Council race that also includes another out LGBTQ candidate: former Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City president Rod Townsend.

According to the New York City Campaign Finance Board, Jaime-Faye Bean, Leonardo Bullaro, Jesse A. Cerrotti, Edwin DeJesus, Evie Hantzopoulos, Felicia Kalan, and Nicholas Roloson have also filed to run in the same district.

On September 9, Townsend, who told Gay City News earier this year that he welcomes competition, turned to Twitter to chime in on Cabán’s entrance in the race, writing, “2021 will present a wonderful array of LGBTQ+ candidates, some running in the same district. Remember, we aren’t running against each other; we’re running for office to serve the districts and the city we love.”

Townsend was responding to a tweet posted by out LGBTQ Manhattan City Council Candidate Marti Gould Cummings, who acknowledged Townsend and Cabán’s presence in the race when they stressed that voters who support both of those candidates can utilize rank-choice voting, which has been implemented in New York City.

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