Satnam Singh Parhar said he has been involved in public services for nearly four decades since he came to the United States from India, but now it was time for him to serve “in a bigger way.”
“I see so many problems going on in our district,” he said, noting rising property taxes and water bills, along with inadequate public transportation, as the major issues that pushed him to making a run for City Council.
Parhar, who lives in New Hyde Park and owns a construction company, is among seven candidates, including six Democrats, seeking to replace Mark Weprin in the 23rd Council District in Eastern Queens.
“We have somebody who can become a real voice to the general public,” he said, explaining that he feels politicians are disconnected to the public’s real needs. “When it comes to real life, they don’t bother.”
Parhar came to America from India in 1976 after graduating from Punjab University. He owned a small boutique business, then later worked in wholesaling before opening his construction business in 1982. Being a contractor, he said, gave him some insight into how city government works.
“I know the ins and outs of getting licenses and permits,” Parhar explained, noting that he has dealt with the Department of Buildings, the Department of Transportation and other city agencies on a regular basis. “I know anything a contractor needs to know.”
On Transportation, Parhar has called for Select Bus Service, currently being proposed for Woodhaven Boulevard and Main Street, to be instituted on major thoroughfares leading to Eastern Queens such as Union Turnpike or Hillside Avenue.
“If the transportation is good and fast and people have an easy commute to work and can get back home, that is good,” he said, decrying the lack of buses and other public transit options in the community.
“When I go to the bus stops to meet voters, I noticed there is a lot of waiting for buses,” he said. “There are not enough buses out here. Every commuter complaints about that.”
Parhar also noted the need for more schools in the district.
“We need some new buildings and additions to the schools,” he said, adding that when teachers who are trained to teach 25 kids are forced to teach 40, “we are all losers.”
The only Sikh in the race, he said reaching out to other demographics in the diverse district has not been hard. He noted that he had met and talked to Hispanic and Irish-American constituents who were glad to see him pay attention to their concerns
“We all have the same problems,” Parhar said, emphasizing, “I feel the Southwestern portion of the district is especially neglected.”
He said at least one constituent in that part of the district told him he was the only candidate who knocked on his door.