Khaleel Anderson, Up Next?
If you’re involved with any community based organization or attended a community meeting chances are you’ve meet Khaleel Anderson—a passionate twenty-three year-old recent college graduate who earned his Masters Degree in Urban Affairs, in 2019. He is not only a recent graduate, but also a community leader and organizer. Anderson is a member of Community Board 14, 101st Police Precinct Community Council, and the NAACP. After his family was “economically displaced” due to gentrification from their Crown Heights apartment nearly 15 years ago, they moved to the Rockaways. His mother raised him and his three siblings on her own while struggling with a physical disability. Anderson states, “I grew up in a single-parent, working poor household. I was raised with the values of hard-work, compassion for others, and with the golden rule, treat others how you would want to be treated, as a central part of my belief system.”
Khaleel’s father was a union leader with 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and his mother was an organizer for A.C.O.R.N, a well-known social justice organization during its time. As a result, Anderson became a disciplined and passionate organizer. Because of their activism and advocacy work, “we were able to get a lot of things done for our neighborhood.” He warmly remarks, “I am proud to have chosen to dedicate my life to public service and giving back to the community that has raised me.” Recognizing the importance of community involvement from a young age, Anderson also participated in advocacy and leadership opportunities in the Rockaway community and has an extensive list of volunteer experiences. He first began social justice work when he joined the Rockaway Youth Task Force (RYTF) at the age of 15. During his years as an organizer with RYTF, he was involved in protests, rallies, demonstrations, policy strategy meetings, and direct actions around the issues of police reform, food justice, and school policy reform. His work with RYTF was geared toward improving quality of life for young people of color in the Rockaways.
In line with his spirit of advocacy and activism, Anderson will be running for New York State Assembly, to represent District 31 which includes the Rockaway Peninsula, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, South Ozone Park, and parts of South Richmond Hill. Anderson declared that he is running because of his frustration with the lack of representation on the state level. He states, “we need someone who can go to Albany, make noise when necessary and advocate for the best possible policies for the people of the 31st district, because right now we’re just not seeing it.” While there are several issues impacting Rockaway residents, some important issues Anderson would like to focus on are employment opportunities, economic development (including JFK), education (including the school-to-prison pipeline) as well as Career Technical Education programs, criminal justice reform, food access, and transportation. As the campaign progresses, he will be releasing his plans and policies to mitigate the issues that impact residents of District 31. He asserts, “all issues matter to me and our campaign!” However, if he had to choose just one issue to address, he would focus on the need to improve food quality and access. He notes that, “with many of the top issues we listed, there are clear overlaps between food access and job creation, economic development, education, and transportation improvement. When our proposals are released we will specifically address the correlations between these issues.”
Anderson is adamant about being a powerful voice who will support his constituency if elected, acknowledging that it is time for state agencies to work for District 31 members and not against them. When the time comes, Anderson affirms that residents should vote for him because his candidacy would provide a fresh perspective to politics. He assures that he has no interest in being a career politician. Rather, he is more interested in being a public servant and making government accessible in order to address concerns in tangible and substantive ways.
The future twenty-three year-old Assembly candidate is not worried about how young he is. To individuals concerned about his age, he responded by presenting Far Rockaway’s demographics stating, “the statistics show that the Rockaways, in the area where I live, have a large population of young people who will eventually raise their families here.” Yet, Anderson points out that although young adults make up a significant portion of and are the future of the Rockaways, their opinions are not included in the governmental decision-making processes. For instance, he mentions that, “young people are generally not consulted for issues such as college debt, career advancement, and affordable home ownership. As a result, young adults along with many others, feel disaffected from the political apparatus that governs our community.” This is why Anderson thinks it is so important for him to run for Assemblymember, in order to uplift the voices of young people like himself. In addition to this, he wants to serve as a paragon for residents and show them the same lesson he learned when he was beginning to volunteer, that “young people can and will be a part of the discussions that impact their lives.”
Anderson is excited to bring a fresh, social justice perspective to his campaign and be a powerful voice for District 31 constituents. With conviction and excitement, he ends the interview on an ecstatic note:
As the youngest declared candidate for state office at this moment, I’m proud to bring a new and fresh perspective to the table. I will use my experiences and my voice to fight hard and win for us all! - Khaleel Anderson