2018-09-12 / Features

A Candid Interview With Assembly Member Brian Barnwell


District 30 Assembly Member Brian Barnwell and I sat in his office, located at 55-19 69th St in Maspeth, to discuss the upcoming election, and his efforts since taking office. I was only there a few minutes, before an elderly gentlemen came into the office seeking aid. Barnwell immediately addressed the man by name, telling him to make additional notes with one of his staff, and that he would look into his case personally after our meeting.

“In the past two years, my office has resolved over 2,000 constituent cases, and saved constituents hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes through workshops, property taxes, and SCRIE and DRIE classes we’ve offered in each neighborhood,” Barnwell stated. “What I love most about this district is its diverse opinions, and it’s my job to help everyone because everyone deserves to be helped.”

Barnwell was born with scoliosis, and had his first of three back surgeries to correct the curvature of his spine at 11 years old. Though he is in constant pain, he works for his district from 7 am to 3 am, nearly every day.

“The reason I entered politics was because I wanted to serve the people. I wanted to be in the military, but because of my back surgeries I was not able to serve—so I thought that the next best thing was politics. I wanted to help the middle class, working class, and the seniors—groups of people who often get overlooked,” said Barnwell.

“Affordability is the most important issue to me,” Barnwell continued. “New York has to be more affordable—from housing, to healthcare, to taxes, to education. I’ve brought back a million dollars for district schools since taking office.”

It’s no wonder that Brian Barnwell cares about education and healthcare, when his grandmother, mother, sister, aunt, and a cousin all are or have been nurses, and he has three cousins who are teachers. Barnwell also has two cousins who are in the FDNY. His dad, uncle, and two cousins are in law enforcement, and he has various other family members in building trades and union positions.

Before entering politics, Barnwell was a general practice attorney, and worked for a City Council member. He is using his expertise in law to offer free legal services to constituents—including seniors, and hundreds of immigrants. improvements on their buildings through a tax abatement.”

“I have a lot of bills for veterans; and bill A.07628-B will lower senior property taxes as they age,” said Barnwell.

Many constituents feel that the gauge for affordable housing isn’t accurate. “Currently, the pricing for affordable housing is taken using the average income from Staten Island, Westchester county, and the Upper East Side, where the mean income may be upwards of $90,000. Median incomes for Queens households are often much less. My AMI bill (A.5505) would calculate the pricing for affordable housing by zip code, and by the lowest incomes in each neighborhood. It’s about making New York more affordable.”

“My office also has regular graffiti cleanups and park cleanups,” Barnwell said.

He has been working to bring more culture to Queens, by hosting events like the free production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, earlier in the summer.

Brian Barnwell has been going door-to-door, talking to as many people in the district as possible about the upcoming primary election and voting on Thursday, September 13. “I want to thank the politicians, unions, the community boards, my family, and everyone who supports me—as well as the Queens Gazette for allowing me to share my efforts to help the people in our district. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a politician, and it’s because of their support and friendship, I have that honor.”

Crystal Wolfe is the author of “Our Invisible Neighbors: Accounts, Causes, and Solutions to the Epidemic of Homelessness in the 21st Century”; and “The Resurrected Dream: A Collection of Poetry and Prose from an Awakened Soul.” For more info, visit www.cateringforthehomeless.com.

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