Election Day for Queens City Council District 31 is Tuesday, February 23rd. NY City Lens continues with another installment in our “Five Questions for Candidates” series, to help New Yorkers learn more about the candidates. District residents will choose between nine of them, via the recently implemented ranked-choice voting system, where they can list up to five candidates from most to least preferred.
For our third installment we caught up with candidate Nancy Martinez, a longtime District 31 resident and small business owner. Martinez founded and runs the New York Career Training School in Far Rockaway, as well as the Rockaway Adult Social Center, and has trained more than 20,000 New Yorkers in health care and vocational training. (This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.)
NY City Lens: Talk to me about your background, where you grew up. What is your history in District 31?
Nancy Martinez: My background is that I am Dominican; I am of Hispanic descent. I came to this country in 1978 at just seven years old. My father was a Marine, and he went through the revolution in 1965, in the Dominican Republic. I’ve been a resident of the Rockaways for 40 years. I started a vocational training school with $40,000. It has been a blessing. I have trained over 20,000 individuals in allied health and they’re successfully employed. Through the whole pandemic we’ve been assisting and helping the nursing home facilities or health care agencies replenish their health care workers, because you know, everyone was getting sick. COVID does not discriminate.
NY City Lens: How has your background and career prepared you for this seat?
Martinez: I’ve been an activist for this community for quite some time. Being a small business owner, I know the struggles that we have had here every day. Being a homeowner, I also see the changes in the community and the taxes being raised, the flooding. I see the lack of education; our children being left behind. It’s just so many different issues that the 31st District is going through. I feel as an entrepreneur, I could get economy going. And I think that’s the priority. I hear their voices and their concerns when it comes to providing jobs, and also education, we have to get a better education system for our children. We have to start from scratch, because nothing that has been in the past has worked here.
NY City Lens: Can you explain in more depth about your response to this district’s COVID-19 history? What are some concrete goals for your district to bridge the healthcare equity gap?
Martinez: My main goal is to have a health task force to make sure that we are educating our constituents on the prevention of infections and making sure that the vaccines are here for our seniors. I also want to make sure that our residents have mental health services, because this pandemic has done a lot of mental health damage besides also a loss of lives.
NY City Lens: What are the top three issues you want to address immediately on your platform?
Martinez: Health first, increasing health in our society. And my second one is small businesses, getting them up and open and running and finding resources for them. And third, which is also very essential, is education for our children.
NY City Lens: What are your thoughts on ranked choice voting in this election? How do you feel the new ranked choice voting will affect participation, or the outcome of this race?
Martinez: Well, that’s what they voted for, so ranked choice is here now. So —let’s see the outcome. It is still being experimented with, since we’re like the second district and the first one didn’t have much of it because they had an incumbent. I believe it might be beneficial, though, and it’s better to give everyone a chance.