This time, the 33-year-old public defender and organizer is jumping into the race for City Council in District 22, which encompasses Astoria and parts of East Elmhurst and Woodside. The current representative, Councilman Costa Constantinides, will be forced out of office by term limits.
Caban announced her candidacy last Thursday at Katch Astoria, the exact site where she conceded in the district attorney contest last year. She was flanked by family, friends and supporters, including a slew of elected officials from western Queens.
“I am running to represent every single person in every single corner of this district,” she said. “I love the people that live here, and I know that change is possible.”
The daughter of a union elevator mechanic and a domestic worker, Caban was born and raised in Richmond Hill, but spent her weekends and summers in Woodside and Astoria. She recalled playing with her aunt and uncle nearby, and going shopping with her grandmother on Steinway Street on the weekend.
“No matter where I went, that feeling of home that I felt as a child in this community stayed with me,” Caban said. “This is where I felt most like myself.”
After graduating from St. Francis Preparatory High School, Pennsylvania State University and New York Law School, Caban worked as a public defender at New York County Defender Services and at the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice.
Her experiences defending indigent clients within the criminal justice system inspired her run for district attorney on platform of decarceration. Though she was ahead of eventual winner Melinda Katz on the night of the election, the subsequent recount put the former borough president slightly ahead of Caban, a first-time candidate.
In that race, Caban did well in western Queens. In the 36th Assembly District, which encompasses Astoria, Caban won 6,304 of the total 8,464 votes cast in the primary, making up 75 percent.
After the contentious primary, Caban worked for the Working Families Party as a national political organizer, helping elect progressive prosecutors and sheriffs in states like California, Texas and Colorado.
But she also kept an eye on local politics, advocating against bail reform rollbacks and protesting in the streets as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
She said she felt the current City Council “failed the test of political courage and moral clarity” when it passed a budget that did not slash the NYPD’s budget by $1 billion.
“Who we elect to serve in our City Council is a matter of life and death,” Caban said. “We need a wave of bold, progressive or, better yet, socialist leaders.”
Defunding the police and redirecting that money into social services and other community-led efforts is a central plank of Caban’s platform. She also wants to expand open streets and make them permanent, guarantee affordable housing, empower local family-owned businesses, fix public transit and desegregate public schools.
“I promise to be unapologetic in my demands, to be unrelenting in my advocacy,” she said, “and to bring you with me into these corridors of power and hand the keys over to you.
“It’s not only possible, it’s necessary,” Caban added. “We need leaders who are willing to fight for it, and I will fight like hell.”
At her campaign kickoff, Caban received endorsements from State Senator Michael Gianaris, State Senator Jessica Ramos, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, the Democratic nominee for the 34th Assembly District.
Gianaris, who supported Caban’s run for district attorney, said he has gotten to know the candidate well in the last year. He called her a “phenomenal leader” who has already made a name for herself.
“We are very fortunate in western Queens that we are going to have someone who’s going to be able to lead on the first day,” he said, “who will not have to spend time identifying what the problems are or the way the city runs because she’s already been working on that for a very long time.”
Caban joins a crowded field of candidates, including Jaime-Faye Bean, executive director of Sunnyside Shines and co-founder of Queens Together, Evie Hantzopoulos, executive director of Global Kids and a member of Community Board 1 and Rod Townsend, a CB1 member and former president of the Stonewall Democratic Club.
Other candidates include Nick Roloson, Constantinides’s chief of staff, education advocate Leonardo Bullaro and Republican Felicia Kalan, a local activist.
Jesse Cerrotti, a youth organizer and activist, ended his campaign in order to support Caban, whom he called a “mentor and teacher” to him.
“There is no person better to fix our broken City Council than Tiffany Caban,” Cerrotti said. “Tiffany Caban holds the values and work ethic that every member of the City Council should aspire to.”
When asked what her strategy will be like in the race, Caban said she won’t take anything for granted. She plans to talk to neighbors about the issues they care about and champion them.
“We’re going to build a beautiful coalition just like we did last time,” she said. “I feel really good about that.”
Caban added that she won’t take contributions from PACs, real estate interests or police unions.
“We’ll cover every corner of this district,” she said. “We’re ready to do this.”