Interview with Brian Barnwell
Okay, Brian Barnwell is not a familiar face or someone we see all the time, but I think that is about to change. He would like to be your next Assemblyman for the 30th District, and I for one, think his intelligence, determination and youthful devotion to a purpose could possibly achieve that goal. Mr. Barnwell insists he has a well-thought-out, effective game plan to unseat our current Assembly Member, Marge Markey, and he is determined to take a leave of absence to spend the next year leading up to the Democratic Primary campaigning to win your support to do so.
Brian Barnwell was born in Woodside. He moved to Massapequa when he was he was 8 years-old, graduated from Massapequa High School. After High School he moved back to Woodside, where he still resides. He graduated from Arizona State University with a B. A. in Political Science, and obtained a law degree from Albany law School. He currently works for Astoria Councilman, Costa Constantinides as his Director of Special Events. He is 29 years-old and single.
Let’s start with the obvious question. Why run for the NYS Assembly and challenge Marge Markey and the Queens County Democratic machine led by Joe Crowley?
Our community is going south and I am frustrated by the fact that nothing seems to be getting better or done by our local politicians and I know I can change things. People from the Party have asked me, “why don’t I wait a couple of years until Marge Markey retires?” But I said “why not now? We need help now, not a couple of years from now.”
Are you prepared for the dirty politics as practiced by the Queens County Democratic machine?
I will be sticking directly to the issues and I will not be engaging in any kind of mudslinging. Politicians who engage in that kind of campaigning often have no record of their own to stand on.
What do you think your chances of winning are?
Good. I will be leaving the Councilman’s office in September and that will give me a whole year to focus on the primary election. I will be out in force, knocking on doors to all the registered Democratic voters in the District and telling them what I believe. So, I think I have a really good shot. Look, Marge Markey is very entrenched obviously, she has the money and she has the support, but I have a plan in mind and I have done the numbers, and I think she can be beat.
What do you think makes a good Assemblyman and do you think you have the qualifications to be one?
There are good Assembly Members for the Albany Machine and then there are good Assembly Members for the district. I want to be a good Assembly Member for the District. And that takes engaging with your constituents and getting involved with their concerns. And that means going to the Civic meetings, and even if I win I will continue to knock on doors and engage with the people so they can tell me what they think should be done. Now, they may not always agree with me obviously and I may not always agree with them, but at least I will be giving them chance to have a voice.
Do you think there is voter apathy in the 30th District and if so, how are you going to address it?
Yes, I do. The fact is we have city and state officials winning elections with only a couple thousand voters and what I am going to do is have voter registration drives to get more people involved in the process. People need to vote in the primaries as well. Primaries in New York often decide who will be the representative. Obviously running as a Democrat against Marge Markey will be a primary challenge and therefore the primary race may be the only race to determine who will be Assemblymember. I encourage all registered voters in the district to make their voices heard and vote in the Democratic Primary in 2016. Right now, people don’t believe that their vote makes a difference. But it does. Every vote truly matters, especially in local elections.
What local issues do you think members of the Juniper Park Civic Association care most about and how would you address them if elected?
Quality of life issues. People don’t want to see garbage piling-up or graffiti in our neighborhood. The way most politicians respond to these problems now is reactionary rather than proactively. Currently, the plan is to call 311; maybe they respond and maybe they don’t. Sometime they pick-up the garbage and clean the graffiti and sometime they don’t. I have called 311 numerous times about illegal dumping and graffiti and on multiple occasions I have been told the problem was addressed, when it wasn’t. I have a plan to combat these issues and address the situation proactively. We have to act before these violations occur, not simply clean-up after them. Another big issue for our community is tax relief. We have been crushed by taxes for far too long. Our taxes are simply too high; it seems like most of our money is going to the government. Instead, we should lower taxes on the middle class and make sure that the middle class has the ability to say how they are going to spend and save their money. I would also like to lower taxes on businesses as well, so they can expand and hire more people. One idea I have is to give a property tax break to manufacturing businesses based on the number of full time jobs they create. New York State has the heaviest burden of all the states, and that has to change.
You have been quoted as saying that you think the 30th District need new leadership. What do you think makes a good leader?
Engaging with the people of the community and sticking to your morals when making decisions.
What is the number one reason I should vote for you and not your opponent?
Marge Markey is a yes woman controlled by the Albany Machine and does what is good for them. I am not controlled by any machine and I will truly represent the needs of the people of the 30th Assembly District. I will be present in the community, I will be at the civic meetings, I will engage the community, and the community will know that I am there for them.
As the new Assemblyman, you have just been allocated discretionary money for your district. What would you do with it?
Interestingly enough, a few years back the City Council started doing what’s known as discretionary budgeting, which gives the people the option to decide what gets funded and what does not. I would really be interested in bringing that to the New York State Assembly.
I would like to see discretionary funding used for schools and after school programs, because I attribute a lot of my success to the guidance my parents gave me with regard to my studies after school. If I didn’t do my homework, I wouldn’t be able to go outside or do anything until I completed such. The after school program I would like to see put in place would provide kids with extra help with their studies. And I don’t mean creating programs that just babysit the children, but programs that actually assist with their educational development.
What three adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
Honest. Hard working. Loyal
What three adjectives would you use to describe your opponent?
I don’t have three adjectives, but I would use three words: missing-in-action! In the State Assembly, Marge Markey failed to vote yes or no 172 times on legislation in 2014. In 2015 she failed to vote yes or no 392 times. And when she did vote in 2014, she voted with Shelly Silver 99.6% of the time, and for Speaker Carl Heastie 99.2% of the time in 2015.
Do you think NYS has done enough to prevent the devastation that would occur should we be hit with another storm like Hurricane Sandy? And if not, what would you suggest?
No. Not at all. We should be constructing walls along the rivers and ocean to protect us from potential flooding should another storm like Sandy occur, among other things.
What past accomplishment of yours are you proudest of?
Passing the Bar exam the first time. Believe me, it was not an easy exam. .
Who would you consider to be your role models?
If there was an American President dead or alive you could meet, who would it be and why?
George Washington. He was man of honor, who showed an unwavering devotion and love for his country. We need more elected officials today like him.
What book that you have read has had the biggest influence on your life?
What do you do for fun?
I love to read. My current goal is to read a biography about every United States President. I’m currently up to Harry S. Truman.
What would we be surprised to know about Brian Barnwell?
After college, I volunteered on a science expedition in Australia on one of the islands (Ingram Island) of the Great Barrier Reef to help save sea turtles.
Thank you, Brian.