With a little more than a week to go until the all important September primary election, Southeast Queens faith leaders and elected officials, led by Congressman Gregory Meeks, came out in support of Mayoral Candidate Bill Thompson.
“Southeast Queens is united behind the candidacy of Bill Thompson,” said Congressman Meeks.
During their support, the candidate took the opportunity to unveiled his plan to rid the policy of prosecuting non-violent youth offenders as adults.
"Lives are lost to a faulty criminal justice policy," Thompson said. "It limits future job opportunities...The court system is not the only intervention or first resource.”
While youths in communities of color are disproportionately affected by such policies, the candidate expressed that his goal would be to end the policy across all communities.
Bill Thompson also spoke about expanding the Summer Youth Employment Program for next summer, during the time he would be in office. It is his belief that the money from ending the prosecution against non-violent offenders as adults would generate $50 million dollars that could be used to towards expanding the program.
Clergy heavyweights Pastor Henry Simmons, St Albans Congregational Church, and Reverend Floyd Flake, The Greater Allen AME Cathedral, were among those present lending their support.
Pastor Simmons said, "The children are our greatest asset…There are things we can do legislatively [to help]".
Pastor Flake spoke to the subject of giving the youth options including education and the opportunity to go to college. "Bill Thompson is the only one running with experience in education," he said.
Assemblywoman Barbara Clarke lender her support. "I believe he will be a great Mayor for the city of New York.
Bishop Charles Norris, Clergy United for Community Empowerment, agreed with the overall sentiment adding "he is the best person to serve as Mayor. He will listen to our requests and act positively".
Congressman Meeks closed the conference with a final push for the candidate. "This community is united behind Billy because we know him...we don't forget who was with us during our time."
The primary election is on Tuesday, September 10th. Bill Thompson faces City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill deBlasio, Comptroller John Liu and Anthony Wiener for the Democratic Party’s ticket.