Political activist Harpreet Singh Toor who has been serving Queens residents for the past 30 years wishes to bring his influence to the local government as he recently announced his run for City Council in District 23. Toor has been serving Queens residents for the past 30 years by supporting the Sikh community through fighting for the rights to wear religious garb in the workplace, a street co-naming, and more. Toor is one among the 10 individuals in the race to replace current Councilman Barry Grodenchik who is set to leave office by the end of 2021.
While speaking to QNS, Toor stated that public service is an important tenet in Sikhism and further added that his commitment to service motivated him to run. Toor said: “For us, being Sikh and performing public service actually is the moral responsibility.” He explained that the duty to serve the community without expecting anything in return is in their DNA.
Toor also told QNS that while considering the pandemic situation, he feels there is a lack of leadership within the City Council and that the City Council is actually the first line between the government and the constituents. He said: “Overall, they need somebody who has the experience and also who has [gotten] things done with the elected officials previously.”
While campaigning, Toor got a chance to talk with constituents about issues within the district. He cited the Covid-19 pandemic as the most pressing issue. “Right now, [the] pandemic is the topmost issue. But not only the pandemic, the distribution of the vaccine is the biggest issue because the guidelines are not that clear. Sometimes it’s rare but it is happening … that they did not have enough people to get the vaccine. That shows the lack of understanding [and] management,” said Toor.
He highlighted other district issues are the aftermath of closing restaurants, small businesses, and health facilities due to the pandemic and managing student and teacher safety within schools.
Toor told QNS that the community response has been very positive and the community offered more than what he expected for fundraising. He said: “In Asia, there’s a saying — either you succeed collectively or you fail individually. And I intend to succeed collectively.”
In 2010, Toor ran for City Council after the death of former Councilman Thomas White Jr prompted a special election. He wasn’t elected to the position.
The nine other candidates in the race are Steven Behar, Seth Breland, Christopher Padilla-Fuentes, Sanjeev Jindal, Jaslin Kaur, Linda Lee, Debra Markell, Mandeep Sahi, and Koshy Thomas. The District 23 seat includes the neighborhoods of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens, and Queens Village.