NEW YORK—Council Member Mark Weprin was elected to the New York City Council in 2010 to represent District 23, which includes Hollis Hills, Queens Village, Little Neck, Douglaston, Bayside, Bellerose, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, New Hyde Park, Hollis, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Fresh Meadows, and Oakland Gardens.
What was your biggest achievement in 2013?
Weprin put a lot of focus on anti-bullying programs in Queens schools this year, especially when a 13-year old from his son’s middle school killed herself. He has been doing presentations in schools and calling on Department of Education to do a sustained effort to make anti-bullying a major initiative. “This is an epidemic throughout our schools in young people,” he said. Weprin has three kids in public schools and feels personally invested in the issue. Weprin said he has the most diverse, middle-class district.
What will you be focusing on this year?
This year Weprin will continue pushing for more anti-bullying initiatives. He has already reached out to the new Education Chancellor for a mandate to educate new students on bullying, what it is, what the effects are on the victims, and what the consequences are for bullies.
He will also work on de-emphasizing standardized testing that sprouted during the Bloomberg era. “They turn these teachers into test-prep teachers,” he said. He’s excited about the new Education Chancellor who’s an ‘actual educator.’
Pedestrian safety has been big and Weprin wants to enforce stricter penalties for reckless driving. He also wants to increase transportation options by finding ways to fund programs for MTA. “Public transportation is why people move to cities,” he said.
What are some of the issues your constituents are concerned about?
Some of the issues his constituents are raising relate to traffic, asking for speed bumps, signs, and more speed limits. Transportation is the number one concern in his district. People are also wanting to see immigration reform to have access to citizenship. “A lot of smart, new people are moving into the neighborhood,” Weprin said. Many South Asians with science and medical backgrounds are driving taxi cabs, so he wants to see more opportunities granted for them so they can support their families and contribute to the community.
If you had a coat of arms, what would it be, and why?
For his Coat of Arms, Weprin, wants to highlight the fact that he’s grown up in the community and his children have also grown up there. He would choose to represent the good schools, co-ops, parks, middle-class homeowners. “A house, a tree, and a school,” he said. A line of diverse children holding hands. Also he was the lead sponsor of the Autism Initiative, and the autism ribbon made of jigsaw puzzle, and of the kids holding the ribbon. No swords. “We do a lot of fighting but it’s usually with our words,” he said.
Epoch Times is interviewing members of the 2014 New York City Council to find out what their biggest achievements were last year and what they hope to accomplish in this one. For a list of all council member articles in this project, click here.