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Current CB2 District Manager Debra Markell Announces Run for Council, Aims to Get City “Back on Track”

Debra Markell, speaking at the Community Board 2 February 2020 meeting (Photo: Thirteen)

Nov. 12, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Debra Markell, the current Community Board 2 District Manager, announced Wednesday that she is running to be the next city council member for the 23rd District.

Markell, a resident of Glen Oaks, is looking to fill the seat currently occupied by Council Member Barry Grodenchik, who will be stepping down at the end of 2021.

Grodenchik, who is not term limited, announced last month that he is not seeking a second term to represent the district, which covers a large swath of eastern Queens.

There are five other Democratic candidates vying for the seat with the primary scheduled to take place in June 2021. The new council member will take office on Jan. 1, 2022.

Markell said she plans to get the city “back on track” and cited her experience working in government and as a community leader as the cornerstone of her campaign.

“When I look ahead at the daunting challenges facing our city, it is evident that experience is crucial to getting our city back on track,” Markell said in a statement. “While COVID-19 changed our way of life on many levels, I know we can come back stronger.”

Markell’s career in civil service includes an eight-year stint as the Queens director on the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit, a job where she worked as a liaison between Queens residents and City Hall. She held that job during both the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations.

She then had a short spell with the Department of Housing and Preservation before securing her current position as CB2 district manager in 2006. Markell said that she will remain in her role as CB2 District Manager pending the outcome of the race.

Markell was raised in Flushing and currently serves as chair of the Flushing Hospital Advisory Board.

She is also the Democratic State Committeewoman for the 26th District and Chairwoman of the F.D.R. Democratic Club Executive Committee. She was at one time the president of the 109th NYPD Precinct Community Council, which covers northern Queens.

Markell lives at the North Shore Towers, a large co-op complex near the Nassau County border, and said that championing co-op and condo owners’ rights will be central to her tenure in office.

Other key issues include fighting for seniors and improving public education, public safety, and transportation measures.

It is not the first time Markell has run for a city council seat. In 1997, for instance, she lost a primary to Julia Harrison for what was then the 19th council district. That district covered northern Queens.

This time she is looking to represent District 23 which covers Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

The other candidates in the race include Steve Behar, who managed Grodenchik’s 2015 election campaign; Jaslin Kaur, an organizer from northeast Queens; Linda Lee, the executive director of Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York; Sanjeev Jindal, a public relations official at the India Association of Long Island; and Christopher Fuentes-Padilla, who is the former Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Queens County.

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