At least five candidates vying to represent Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and East Elmhurst in New York City Council will gather for an in-person forum on Saturday, May 15 hosted by Epicenter-NYC and TBN24. 

Epicenter-NYC is a community journalism initiative founded to get New Yorkers through the pandemic. Most recently, it has booked more than 5,000 neighbors for vaccines. TBN24 is a livestream service and cable news channel for Bangladeshi expatriates. On Facebook alone, it has 2.2 million followers, more than WNYC, Newsday and the Chicago Tribune, combined. 

“This is an opportunity to shift the lens on politics to the people,” said Epicenter co-founder and publisher S. Mitra Kalita. “Our neighborhood was among the hardest hit in the world, and whoever leads us next faces a huge challenge. Our vaccine efforts and reporting have exposed so much inequity in healthcare, immigration reform and more.”

The forum will be moderated by Kalita, a veteran media executive who lives in Jackson Heights and whose father immigrated to the district in 1971, and Habibur Rahman, the anchor and co-founder of TBN24 and a driving force of its service and explanatory journalism. 

“This part of Queens was neglected during the pandemic and exposed many weaknesses in our system,” he said. “This is a big voting bloc that needs representation. This forum is an opportunity for candidates to show their love and what they can do for our community.”

Candidates who confirmed attendance (all were invited) are: 

Yi (Andy) Chen

Suraj Jaswal

Shekar Krishnan

Alfonso Quiroz

Carolyn Tran

To watch the forum, tune into any of the following at 11 a.m. on May 15:  






Organizers are offering LIMITED seats for the forum, taking place at a central location in Jackson Heights. Only people who have been vaccinated and pre-register for the forum will be admitted. Masks, social distancing, temperature checks and decorum in the hall will be strictly enforced. (An earlier version of this forum asked that attendees be registered to vote but community reaction forced us to rethink this. The district is indeed home to many people with a range of residency status, and we agree their concerns should be represented.)

If you wish to join, please fill out this form. You’d need to show up at 10 a.m. SHARP to be seated and checked in. 

Any questions, please email or call 917-818-2690. Members of the press must also register and comply with guidelines. 

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