Assemblywoman Nily Rozic Visits Francis Lewis


Manoli Figetakis

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic poses next to the podium in the library.

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic visited Francis Lewis on November 19 after being invited by the Youth Civic Engagement Club to talk about herself and hold a Q&A session with students in the library. Rozic represents NYS District 25 neighborhoods, including Fresh Meadows, in the New York State Assembly in Albany.

“I work on a mixture of immigrants rights, workers rights, transportation, [and] women’s issues,” Rozic said. “The underlying theme to all the work [my staff and I] do in our office is to empower all those who don’t have a voice, to represent people who don’t have the traditional role in government, [and] those who are disenfranchised.”

As a student at Townsend Harris High School, Rozic described herself as the “shy girl in the back of the classroom,” but would spend her free time taking internships and helping people. While studying at New York University, she studied political science and worked for Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh. In 2012, Rozic ran for a vacant spot in the State Assembly and won with approximately 500 votes.

“A lot of young people got involved in my race,” Rozic said as she was talking about her election. “A lot of people from my neighborhood wanted to make a change. They didn’t want politics as usual. On a larger scale, you can make a difference.”

YCE Club President Emily Gubin organized the event with club board members Sabrina Cao, Andy Chen, and Badi Zaman with additional help from Ms. Wenk and the SO Office, Assistant Principal Ms. Ali, Principal Dr. Marmor, and Rozic’s team. The meeting was part of the club’s initiative to educate young adults in local government and get them involved with civic leaders.

“Our goal is to basically make it a mutual relationship to meet our local representatives and meet actual representation for our future generation of leaders,” Gubin said. “Many people didn’t know who an assembly member was until Monday’s meeting, but then word spread as soon as the assemblywoman explained what the assembly does.”

Following her introduction, Rozic held a Q&A session with the audience where multiple questions about Rozic’s job, the importance of having assembly members and the voting system were asked.

When Junior Jacob Nektalov asked Rozic how she got started and ran for office, she responded by saying she was running against the nominated Democrat who she thought was “not reflective of the community,” and ran against him in a primary election after filing paper work. Rozic further explained why votes are so important in elections.

“Every person counts in this game of government and politics,” Rozic said. “It’s super important that you know and understand that and rally [people] to actually go out and register to vote and exercise that right because it affords people like me to represent our community.”

When Francis Lewis News Reporter Victoria Sheung asked the assemblywoman what issues she was currently working on, Rozic discussed her work for transportation in Eastern Queens.

“Last year, I was able to secure $15 million dollars for outer borough transit as part of a larger deal happening in the assembly,” Rozic replied. “When you’re talking about mass transit and the MTA, we can’t just talk about subways. That’s mostly what you hear about in the news, but in our community, we have buses. That’s a big part of it and [I’m] making sure our voice is part of that conversation.”

Another issue she is currently working on is early voting rights in New York.

“The second part is voting rights – making it easier for people to have access to the ballot and to vote,” Rozic added.  “There are states like Texas that have early voting, and yet New York is way behind. I’m very hopeful next year that we’ll get this done.”

Rozic also reflected on the 2018 elections and the impact it will have on our state.

“For a very long time, our state government was divided. The Assembly was majorly Democratic, and the Senate was heavily Republican.  For the first time in a long time, both houses are going to be under Democratic control. That means we can get a lot done on behalf of our communities, and that’s an exciting prospect for us.”

When asked if she wanted to become a lawyer when she was younger, Rozic said no. She told students that anyone can run for office regardless of their background including themselves.

“You don’t have to be a lawyer to be in government or to be elected to anything,” Rozic said. “The guy who sits behind me is a part time actor. There is also a farmer, it brings a lot of perspective.”

After the Q&A, students like Nektalov inquired about interning for Rozic’s office. Seeing students wanting to get involved in local government made Gubin “[walk] away with a smile.”

“What I hoped of and dreamt of was for people’s hands to fly up and get enthusiastic about local government,” Gubin said. “People had so many questions beyond what was even the quota for the amount of questions she [could] answer.”

To learn more about civic leaders and local government, Gubin encourages other students to get involved in her club which meets Mondays during Period 11 in Room 180.

“We really are different,” Gubin said. “Not everyone reaches out to our local representatives, but that’s what our club does. We’re learning from them, and we’re getting examples from them.”