CITY Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. https://www.gothamgazette.com/city 2021-04-12T11:59:18+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Meet the Republican Candidates for Mayor of New York City 2021-04-12T04:00:00+00:00 2021-04-12T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10348-meet-2021-republican-candidates-mayor-new-york-city Emma Seiwell ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/april/gop-primary-bc.jpg" alt="Fernando Mateo, Curtis Sliwa, Sara Tirschwell" width="600" height="300" /></p> <p>(l-r) GOP mayoral candidates: Curtis Sliwa, Sara Tirschwell, Fernando Mateo</p> <hr /> <p>The Republican primary in the 2021 race to become the next Mayor of New York City is not as crowded as the Democratic field, but it is also competitive, with three main candidates running for the nomination and chance to face the winner of the Democratic primary, among others, in the fall general election. Whomever wins the Republican primary -- which is happening in June like the rest of the city's primaries, with early voting June 12-20 and primary day June 22 -- will face an immense uphill battle to win given the city's overwhelming Democratic voter enrollment advantage. But, Fernando Mateo, Curtis Sliwa, and Sara Tirschwell are all in the running to take that long shot, knowing that the city has elected Republican mayors in the not-too-distant past and trying to seize on the failures of Democrat Bill de Blasio.</p> <p>Here's a brief rundown of each of the three main Republican candidates for mayor, with links to in-depth, 30-minute video interviews Gotham Gazette conducted with each of them:</p> <p><strong>Sara Tirschwell<br /></strong>Tirschwell is a former Wall Street executive and current Chief Financial Officer of mental health <a href="https://foundationhouse.com/staff/sara-tirschwell/">non-profit</a>, Foundation House. The only female Republican candidate for mayor this year, Tirschwell is hoping to become the city’s first woman mayor. She has positioned herself as a financial expert capable of guiding New York City out of its fiscal and economic crises induced by the pandemic.</p> <p>“We need a problem solver with experience in crisis management and restructuring,” she says on her campaign <a href="https://www.saraformayor.com/dear-nyc">website</a>. “Beholden to no one but the people of the City of New York -- I have that experience -- and I am an outsider and a change agent who has repeatedly overcome adversity.”</p> <p>Her campaign message has largely focused on public safety, revitalizing the economy, quality of life issues, and aggressive regulatory reform. Tirschwell has rolled out a <a href="https://www.saraformayor.com/education">plan</a> to address the city’s disparities in educational opportunity.</p> <p>Tirschwell has lived in New York for 30-plus years; she’s originally from South Texas and speaks openly about having had a particularly adverse upbringing and personal challenges into adulthood. She raised two daughters as a single mother and widow, which she boasts as her greatest accomplishment.</p> <p>In 2017, Tirschwell sued her former employer, <a href="https://www.tcw.com/">TCW, </a>for firing her nine days after filing a sexual harassment complaint against her boss. It was notably considered the first “Me Too” case on Wall Street, well before the recent #MeToo movement.</p> <p>Tirschwell led the Republican mayoral field in fundraising <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10278-money-race-republican-nyc-mayor-primary-march-filing-fundraising">as of the mid-March campaign finance filing deadline</a>, an advantage bolstered by a loan she made to the campaign.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10297-decision-nyc-sara-tirschwell-runs-nyc-mayor-2021">Watch Gotham Gazette’s interview with Sara Tirschwell here.</a></p> <p><strong>Curtis Sliwa</strong><br />Sliwa is the controversial founder of <a href="http://guardianangels.org/">The Guardian Angels</a>, a well-known group whose mission is to prevent crime in the city, and a media personality on WABC radio (and formerly on NY1 TV) with a history of <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/christine-quinn-curtis-sliwa-level-sexism-shocking-article-1.2196957">misogynistic</a> and <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny1-suspends-curtis-sliwa-comments-mark-viverito-article-1.2202853">racist</a> commentary.</p> <p>In his bid for the Republican nomination for Mayor, Sliwa has presented himself as a lifelong, no-nonsense New Yorker focused on public safety and economic revitalization, someone who “knows how to do more with less” as he stated in an <a href="https://www.mnn.org/index.php/watch/programs/decision-nyc-ben-max/decision-nyc-2021-mayoral-candidate-curtis-sliwa-interview">interview</a> with Gotham Gazette when discussing managing the city out of its budget challenges. Sliwa’s biggest claim to fame and to city civic service is the Guardian Angels street and subway patrol group that he launched and continues to lead.</p> <p>Key policy proposals of his include <a href="https://curtissliwaformayor.com/property-tax-reform-plan/">property tax reform</a> and <a href="https://curtissliwaformayor.com/right-to-business-plan/">regulatory business reform.</a></p> <p>If elected mayor, Sliwa says he would reinvigorate the NYPD by reinstituting an anti-crime unit, and implementing special units of mental health experts to respond simultaneously with cops.</p> <p>Unlike other Republican candidates, Sliwa only recently registered as a Republican, in <a href="https://nypost.com/2020/03/08/guardian-angels-founder-curtis-sliwa-vows-to-run-for-mayor/?utm_source=First+Read+Newsletters&amp;utm_campaign=3701c79d0c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_09_09_54&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_252d27c7d1-3701c79d0c-34686356&amp;mc_cid=3701c79d0c&amp;mc_eid=250443e3f2">February 2020</a>, and says he’s been an independent for most of his life. He says did not vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 or 2020 presidential election, and he has been critical of the former president on a number of issues while supporting him on others. Sliwa is been backed by the Brooklyn and Staten Island Republican Parties and appears to be the favored candidate of former mayoral candidate and businessman John Catsimatidis, who has decided not to run for mayor this year after long-considering it and whose financial support could be helpful to Sliwa.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10117-decision-nyc-curtis-sliwa-runs-nyc-mayor-2021">Watch Gotham Gazette’s interview with Curtis Sliwa here.</a></p> <p><strong>Fernando Mateo</strong><br />Mateo is a small business owner and spokesperson who has his own history of controversy related to a business he owned and <a href="https://nypost.com/2016/06/28/de-blasio-fundraiser-admits-to-pay-for-play-bundling-scheme/">donations to Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign</a>. He is President of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers and a spokesperson for the United Bodegas of America and has a history of civic involvement.</p> <p>Originally from the Dominican Republic, Mateo has <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10021-six-months-primary-nyc-2021-republican-mayor">called</a> himself “a blue-collar urban Republican that wants the best for the city of New York.” His campaign message focuses on public safety and economic revitalization through business regulation reform. He rejects calls to ‘defund the police’ and argues an additional 20,000 officers should be hired on top of the roughly 35,000 officers the force is comprised of now.</p> <p>Mateo is former co-owner of the scandal-ridden Washington Heights restaurant, La Marina. The restaurant filed for bankruptcy in 2019 after a year of health code violations, a drug bust, and the suspension of its liquor license, all of which he has blamed on neighbors and police out to get him.</p> <p>Mateo says he is a lifelong Republican and he voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and in 2020. In an <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10225-decision-nyc-fernando-mateo-runs-nyc-mayor-2021">interview</a> with Gotham Gazette, he stated he supported Trump “until the capitol riots” on January 6. In the past, Mateo has fundraised for George Pataki, Michael Bloomberg, and de Blasio. He has been endorsed by the Republican Party affiliates in Manhattan, The Bronx, and Queens.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10225-decision-nyc-fernando-mateo-runs-nyc-mayor-2021">Watch Gotham Gazette’s interview with Fernando Mateo here.</a></p> <p>***<br />by Emma Seiwell<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/april/gop-primary-bc.jpg" alt="Fernando Mateo, Curtis Sliwa, Sara Tirschwell" width="600" height="300" /></p> <p>(l-r) GOP mayoral candidates: Curtis Sliwa, Sara Tirschwell, Fernando Mateo</p> <hr /> <p>The Republican primary in the 2021 race to become the next Mayor of New York City is not as crowded as the Democratic field, but it is also competitive, with three main candidates running for the nomination and chance to face the winner of the Democratic primary, among others, in the fall general election. Whomever wins the Republican primary -- which is happening in June like the rest of the city's primaries, with early voting June 12-20 and primary day June 22 -- will face an immense uphill battle to win given the city's overwhelming Democratic voter enrollment advantage. But, Fernando Mateo, Curtis Sliwa, and Sara Tirschwell are all in the running to take that long shot, knowing that the city has elected Republican mayors in the not-too-distant past and trying to seize on the failures of Democrat Bill de Blasio.</p> <p>Here's a brief rundown of each of the three main Republican candidates for mayor, with links to in-depth, 30-minute video interviews Gotham Gazette conducted with each of them:</p> <p><strong>Sara Tirschwell<br /></strong>Tirschwell is a former Wall Street executive and current Chief Financial Officer of mental health <a href="https://foundationhouse.com/staff/sara-tirschwell/">non-profit</a>, Foundation House. The only female Republican candidate for mayor this year, Tirschwell is hoping to become the city’s first woman mayor. She has positioned herself as a financial expert capable of guiding New York City out of its fiscal and economic crises induced by the pandemic.</p> <p>“We need a problem solver with experience in crisis management and restructuring,” she says on her campaign <a href="https://www.saraformayor.com/dear-nyc">website</a>. “Beholden to no one but the people of the City of New York -- I have that experience -- and I am an outsider and a change agent who has repeatedly overcome adversity.”</p> <p>Her campaign message has largely focused on public safety, revitalizing the economy, quality of life issues, and aggressive regulatory reform. Tirschwell has rolled out a <a href="https://www.saraformayor.com/education">plan</a> to address the city’s disparities in educational opportunity.</p> <p>Tirschwell has lived in New York for 30-plus years; she’s originally from South Texas and speaks openly about having had a particularly adverse upbringing and personal challenges into adulthood. She raised two daughters as a single mother and widow, which she boasts as her greatest accomplishment.</p> <p>In 2017, Tirschwell sued her former employer, <a href="https://www.tcw.com/">TCW, </a>for firing her nine days after filing a sexual harassment complaint against her boss. It was notably considered the first “Me Too” case on Wall Street, well before the recent #MeToo movement.</p> <p>Tirschwell led the Republican mayoral field in fundraising <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10278-money-race-republican-nyc-mayor-primary-march-filing-fundraising">as of the mid-March campaign finance filing deadline</a>, an advantage bolstered by a loan she made to the campaign.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10297-decision-nyc-sara-tirschwell-runs-nyc-mayor-2021">Watch Gotham Gazette’s interview with Sara Tirschwell here.</a></p> <p><strong>Curtis Sliwa</strong><br />Sliwa is the controversial founder of <a href="http://guardianangels.org/">The Guardian Angels</a>, a well-known group whose mission is to prevent crime in the city, and a media personality on WABC radio (and formerly on NY1 TV) with a history of <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/christine-quinn-curtis-sliwa-level-sexism-shocking-article-1.2196957">misogynistic</a> and <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny1-suspends-curtis-sliwa-comments-mark-viverito-article-1.2202853">racist</a> commentary.</p> <p>In his bid for the Republican nomination for Mayor, Sliwa has presented himself as a lifelong, no-nonsense New Yorker focused on public safety and economic revitalization, someone who “knows how to do more with less” as he stated in an <a href="https://www.mnn.org/index.php/watch/programs/decision-nyc-ben-max/decision-nyc-2021-mayoral-candidate-curtis-sliwa-interview">interview</a> with Gotham Gazette when discussing managing the city out of its budget challenges. Sliwa’s biggest claim to fame and to city civic service is the Guardian Angels street and subway patrol group that he launched and continues to lead.</p> <p>Key policy proposals of his include <a href="https://curtissliwaformayor.com/property-tax-reform-plan/">property tax reform</a> and <a href="https://curtissliwaformayor.com/right-to-business-plan/">regulatory business reform.</a></p> <p>If elected mayor, Sliwa says he would reinvigorate the NYPD by reinstituting an anti-crime unit, and implementing special units of mental health experts to respond simultaneously with cops.</p> <p>Unlike other Republican candidates, Sliwa only recently registered as a Republican, in <a href="https://nypost.com/2020/03/08/guardian-angels-founder-curtis-sliwa-vows-to-run-for-mayor/?utm_source=First+Read+Newsletters&amp;utm_campaign=3701c79d0c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_09_09_54&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_252d27c7d1-3701c79d0c-34686356&amp;mc_cid=3701c79d0c&amp;mc_eid=250443e3f2">February 2020</a>, and says he’s been an independent for most of his life. He says did not vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 or 2020 presidential election, and he has been critical of the former president on a number of issues while supporting him on others. Sliwa is been backed by the Brooklyn and Staten Island Republican Parties and appears to be the favored candidate of former mayoral candidate and businessman John Catsimatidis, who has decided not to run for mayor this year after long-considering it and whose financial support could be helpful to Sliwa.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10117-decision-nyc-curtis-sliwa-runs-nyc-mayor-2021">Watch Gotham Gazette’s interview with Curtis Sliwa here.</a></p> <p><strong>Fernando Mateo</strong><br />Mateo is a small business owner and spokesperson who has his own history of controversy related to a business he owned and <a href="https://nypost.com/2016/06/28/de-blasio-fundraiser-admits-to-pay-for-play-bundling-scheme/">donations to Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign</a>. He is President of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers and a spokesperson for the United Bodegas of America and has a history of civic involvement.</p> <p>Originally from the Dominican Republic, Mateo has <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10021-six-months-primary-nyc-2021-republican-mayor">called</a> himself “a blue-collar urban Republican that wants the best for the city of New York.” His campaign message focuses on public safety and economic revitalization through business regulation reform. He rejects calls to ‘defund the police’ and argues an additional 20,000 officers should be hired on top of the roughly 35,000 officers the force is comprised of now.</p> <p>Mateo is former co-owner of the scandal-ridden Washington Heights restaurant, La Marina. The restaurant filed for bankruptcy in 2019 after a year of health code violations, a drug bust, and the suspension of its liquor license, all of which he has blamed on neighbors and police out to get him.</p> <p>Mateo says he is a lifelong Republican and he voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and in 2020. In an <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10225-decision-nyc-fernando-mateo-runs-nyc-mayor-2021">interview</a> with Gotham Gazette, he stated he supported Trump “until the capitol riots” on January 6. In the past, Mateo has fundraised for George Pataki, Michael Bloomberg, and de Blasio. He has been endorsed by the Republican Party affiliates in Manhattan, The Bronx, and Queens.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10225-decision-nyc-fernando-mateo-runs-nyc-mayor-2021">Watch Gotham Gazette’s interview with Fernando Mateo here.</a></p> <p>***<br />by Emma Seiwell<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@GothamGazette</a></p> Democratic Mayoral Candidates Talk Making the City More Business-Friendly 2021-04-12T04:00:00+00:00 2021-04-12T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10363-democratic-mayoral-candidates-making-new-york-city-business-friendly Grace Getman ggetman@gg.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/19100326256_f8195b816c_c.jpg" alt="warby parker business nyc" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>A Warby Parker event (photo:&nbsp;Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>This past week, advocacy group Tech:NYC and glasses company Warby Parker, among others, co-hosted a forum with seven leading Democratic candidates for mayor, who appeared one at a time to answer questions from Business Insider columnist Josh Barro about the city’s future and their agendas.</p> <p>The participating candidates, in order of appearance, were entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former federal housing secretary Shaun Donovan, former Wall Street executive Ray McGuire, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Maya Wiley, a civil rights attorney and former counsel to Mayor de Blasio. The event was co-hosted by AT&amp;T, Bowery Farming, Etsy, Harry’s, Via, WeWork, and Zola, among others.</p> <p>The questions, somewhat uniform to each candidate, focused on issues relevant to the tech and business communities, such as how to attract business to New York City in the post-COVID-19 economy, the failed Amazon ‘HQ2’ deal, housing development, and expanding broadband access.</p> <p><strong>Andrew Yang</strong><br />Barro asked Yang as a businessman how he thought that businesses choose to locate in New York, and how as mayor Yang would make them more interested in the city. Citing his experience in start-ups, Yang argued that the location of companies depends on where their employees would like to be. He said that “if there’s one thing that makes the world goes around for founders, it’s talent.”</p> <p>To make the city more attractive to employees, Yang honed in rectifying quality-of-life issues such as “getting schools open to garbage pick up to public safety concerns.” He reiterated his oft-cited stance that the city must restore its “value proposition” to business owners and others alike to make some of the challenges of the city, like cost and commutes, worth it.</p> <p>Barro asked why “garbage is piled high on the sidewalks” and why the city has not moved to containerized pick-up. Yang called out the cuts to the Department of Sanitation budget, saying that “if you’ve noticed more trash on the street, that’s why,” and saying that is something he would restore funding to.</p> <p>Barro moved on to ‘HQ2,’ which was slated for Queens before activists and elected officials who opposed the Amazon deal pushed the company to back out, and the role of subsidies in attracting major technology companies to New York City. Saying that “Manhattan has a natural draw,” Yang acknowledged the role of subsidies in attracting companies to the other boroughs.</p> <p>Yang said that he supported ‘HQ2’ for Queens, and falsely said, “I’m one of the only mayoral candidates who’s said on the record that losing Amazon was a mistake for the city.” Barro pressed Yang on whether the “billions in subsidies” that Amazon would have received would have been worth it. Yang said it wasn’t great policy. “You can’t just let them walk away,” Yang said, citing the many thousands of jobs the campus was slated to create and support of the service industry it would have provided.</p> <p>Barro then asked if changes to corporate structures that allow for remote work, accelerated by the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, affected the city’s ability to attract tech companies. “New York City is fundamentally a place-based economy,” Yang said, and “the New York City advantage will still be there.” Barro pressed Yang further on the difference of attracting workers versus attracting firms, asking Yang how his strategy to attract companies would change. Yang admitted that the city will have to “compete and make its case” in a way it did not have to in the past, adding that he is exploring “incentives” for workers to commute to the city five times a week, mentioning gift cards to New York City bars and restaurants as a possibility, and making investments to increase tourism.</p> <p>Barro asked Yang about reducing the sky-high costs of the city’s capital projects. Yang said he would have the city “be more disciplined” about having contractors focus on the quality of their work rather than sub-contracting. He also mentioned he would streamline bureaucracy, saying that it was not user-friendly for small businesses.</p> <p>Asked how many housing units the city should build over the next ten years, Yang did not present a specific figure, saying only that it would be in “the tens of thousands” for his first term and that he would want to increase the rate of housing development in the city. Seemingly underprepared to discuss housing development goals, Yang pivoted to his pledge to reduce street homelessness “by 50%” over his first term, and said he would want to convert some vacant hotels into affordable and supportive housing.</p> <p>Barro concluded by asking Yang if he had connected with any of the other mayoral candidates, to which Yang responded that he was “a huge Kathryn Garcia fan” and that she was someone he “admired a great deal.”</p> <p><strong>Kathryn Garcia</strong><br />Asked why she is the best candidate for mayor, Garcia told Barro that “understanding how the city works is absolutely critical, because then you can actually fix things” and “know where the pain points are.” She said her managerial experience in various roles in city government made her the strongest potential next leader for New York City.</p> <p>Barro asked Garcia about the city’s garbage situation, asking if it was possible to “get it off the sidewalks and into closed containers,” to which Garcia said it was fully possible, and that part of that effort would require the city “rethink the public realm” about how street space is used. She mentioned that as sanitation commissioner she had launched a pilot program for commercial corridors that is being implemented.</p> <p>Asked how she thought public spaces were being underutilized, Garcia advocated that “you need people walking the streets of New York, spending money” and that public space management efforts should look at “Open Restaurants, Open Culture, but also thinking about greening the city,” with references to two recent pandemic-era public space programs launched by the city.</p> <p>On attracting companies to the city, Garcia said she would focus on a “liveable city,” as companies “locate where they have really strong labor forces.”</p> <p>“We have to do way better” building housing, Garcia said, adding that her efforts would target “unlocking the private sector by getting rid of the bureaucracy” and building between 20,000 and 30,000 units a year. Citing that “time is money in construction” and that “we don't actually do good planning,” Garcia said she would increase community input and reduce bureaucracy. Barro challenged her on this point, asking how she would resolve situations where increased considerations would conflict with expeditiousness, citing her support while working under de Blasio for special construction permits for hotels. Garcia sidestepped the first part of the question, only defending her support of special permits for hotels.</p> <p>On expanding broadband access, Garcia said she would target lowering costs, facilitating rule changes to make the expansion of broadband easier in communities, and having the city connect residents to broadband themselves if companies did not create broadband access where the city would like.</p> <p><strong>Eric Adams</strong><br />Adams said that he is the best candidate for mayor because of his life experiences from growing up in poverty, experiencing police brutality, becoming a police officer himself, and his diabetes diagnosis that he went on to beat through a healthy lifestyle. As “someone who has gone through a lot,” Adams said he was in the best position to help other people “going through a lot.”</p> <p>On how companies should be “respectful” in the city and be good neighbors, something Barro brought up as Adams has discussed it in the past, Adams said he would challenge corporations to think on the question “how do I involve myself in the communities put in place long before me?” such as working with the Department of Education to teach children life skills. On how he would actually accomplish these partnerships, Adams pointed towards working with specific organizations and not “demonizing companies” and creating “this synergy that we are in this together.”</p> <p>Examining his stated plan to name an “efficiency czar” to make city government work better, Barro asked how Adams’ approach to reducing waste differed from past tactics under Bloomberg and de Blasio. Adams argued that “the city is dysfunctional” because “agencies are not aligned” and pointed to his record in the NYPD using data and technology as part of the department’s modern evolution. When pressed by Barro on how agencies would operate differently, Adams cited his mother saying “What gets measured, gets done. If you don’t inspect what you expect, it’s all suspect,” and said he would want real-time data for examining basic city services.</p> <p>Barro gave Adams the same question he gave to Yang on whether the city should push for tech companies to locate in boroughs other than Manhattan and whether Adams would support subsidies to make that happen. Adams denied that the city needed a subsidy program, and turned to discussing quality-of-life issues. To “build the proper environment” for companies to locate all over the city, he would focus on providing services such as access to transportation, public safety, and high-speed internet, he said.</p> <p>Barro brought up the defeated Industry City rezoning in Brooklyn, an expansion and development proposal promising thousands of jobs and more economic activity along the Brooklyn waterfront that was ultimately defeated by local activists and City Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “It’s really unfortunate that we could not seal the deal in Industry City,” Adams said, adding that on development projects in general he would want to focus on being inclusive but also on “how can we get to a yes.” On whether or not local Council members have too much power to kill projects in their districts, Adams argued that for projects that affect the entire city, one member of the City Council should not have the power to shut them down, an informal practice known as “member deference” where the full Council defers to the local member whose district the proposal is slated for.</p> <p>On housing, Adams told Barro that asking how many units of housing to add was “the wrong question” and that the city should audit its current housing to see where there are vacancies or lack of use and go from there. Barro pushed back, saying that even with auditing vacant housing more housing must be developed because of the city’s growing population, on which Adams deflected and instead pressed his desire to identify unused housing.</p> <p><strong>Shaun Donovan</strong><br />Barro opened his conversation with Donovan, the former head of housing in the city and nationally under Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama, on housing. Donovan said the city should add 50,000 units per year, a very large goal, and touted his “15-minute neighborhoods” plan to ensure every New Yorkers lives in a great neighborhood with access to everything they need.</p> <p>On rezonings, Donovan said he was open to upzonings for more housing, such as what the de Blasio administration is currently attempting in SoHo. He added that there should be a “citywide land use budget” to “make sure every community is doing its fair share,” through looking at ways to add density and using citywide inclusionary zoning.</p> <p>After Barro asked what he would do differently to add housing from his time under Bloomberg, Donovan said the scope of the city’s housing problem is wide enough that “changing the trajectory” for the city takes years. He also said he was proud of the Bloomberg legacy on upzoning wealthier communities.</p> <p>On lowering the cost of construction, Donovan discussed “building differently” such as using new technologies and having an administration “that brings innovation to every phase of what government does.”</p> <p>On attracting increasingly mobile workers and firms to New York City, Donovan called himself “an urban optimist” and that the question was about whether or not specifically New York City could manage the challenge. New York City can become the “tech center” of the world, he said, and he would make it happen through his specific plans and by focusing on quality-of-life issues.</p> <p><strong>Ray McGuire</strong><br />McGuire argued that he was the best candidate for mayor because of his private sector experience, where he was one of the top executives at Citi and on Wall Street more generally, saying that “this is not the time where someone gets to the mayoral spot to learn how to manage or lead.”</p> <p>On attracting businesses, McGuire said that the city should “incentivize businesses to do more business here, not less” and that he would work on uniting business interests with the rest of the city, rather than pursuing divisive measures such as increasing taxes.</p> <p>To move “job centers out to the outer boroughs,” McGuire supported using subsidies, which he referred to as incentives. McGuire said the collapse of the Amazon ‘HQ2’ deal was a mistake and that the project would have been a big net positive for the city, even with the subsidies.</p> <p>On expanding broadband access, McGuire said it’s essential for education, and pointed to his economic comeback plan, which would include efforts to create universal broadband access.</p> <p>To improve the efficiency of the city’s capital projects and “to bring costs under control,” McGuire said he would “bring all constituents to the table.” He said that he “wasn’t in anyone’s pocket” and that his “sole focus” is on what is best for the city, that he’s not “focused on sub-agendas.” He referenced de Blasio’s tagline of the “Tale of Two Cities,” saying that now New York City was a “fractured city.”</p> <p>Calling his answer “nonspecific,” Barro pushed McGuire to elaborate on what made his leadership skills unique. McGuire said that, having led a global business, he was the only candidate with the skills to unite the diverse constituencies of New York City and focus on “shared prosperity.”</p> <p>On housing, McGuire said he would like to increase the city’s housing units by 10%, or 350,000 units. Barro asked McGuire for a timeline on such development, which McGuire side-stepped, pointing to lowering construction costs and the economic benefits new construction would bring.</p> <p><strong>Scott Stringer</strong><br />Stringer said he should be the next mayor in part because he is a “real seasoned government leader, who has vision and experience.”</p> <p>Barro asked Stringer how he would seek to regain jobs lost in the COVID-19 pandemic, confronted with “an economy that may be permanently different in certain ways,” citing business travel as something that may permanently decrease.</p> <p>Stringer replied that he would focus on small businesses, including by directing $1 billion from the city’s federal stimulus money to them. He would provide tax incentives for new businesses to locate in the city in "vacant corridors” and would make sure small businesses are not “fined and fee-ed into oblivion.” He said small business owners would not need to hire an expediter to get projects approved in the city and he would create a tech platform for small businesses to use to efficiently navigate city processes.</p> <p>Asked what he would do differently from Bloomberg and de Blasio on the issues of inefficiency in small business processes, Stringer lambasted de Blasio by saying “what he didn’t do was govern.” Saying “you gotta manage this town,” Stringer said that he would focus on actually accomplishing goals that the city sets for itself.</p> <p>On attracting tech companies to boroughs other than Manhattan and the role of subsidies in those conversations, Stringer said “it’s exciting that we’re spreading our economy out,” that “if we build it, they will come,” that he would focus on quality-of-life issues such as transportation, and that attracting businesses relies on the “value proposition” of what the city can offer businesses.</p> <p>On how many housing units he would seek to create as mayor, Stringer said “as many as possible,” but he said key to his vision is creating enough “low-income housing” to actually meet the need in the city. Looking at the legacies of Bloomberg and de Blasio, he said, “We’ve had mayors talking about these big numbers, but they have not helped people get housing.” His efforts would focus on housing that targets those close to homelessness and would focus on true affordability. He would create 10,000 units of low-income housing and “catalogue” the vacant parcels the city owns for potential developments.</p> <p><strong>Maya Wiley</strong><br />Saying that the COVID-19 pandemic “pulled the curtain back” on the issues the city faced, Wiley said that the challenge for the next mayor would be to “create a more unified city.” Doing this requires “very different leadership” to pursue “transformative policy,” Wiley said, adding, “I’m not a politician, and I think that’s the point.”</p> <p>On expanding broadband, Wiley pointed to her work on universal broadband when working for de Blasio at City Hall by soliciting input from outside groups such as Girls Who Code, and by unifying the efforts of different agencies to work on the project. When Barro pushed Wiley for concrete steps for accomplishing universal broadband, she said she would focus government efforts on the “last mile problem in highly, highly, underserved areas” by “asset-mapping” current city resources that could be used to provide universal broadband. She would also pursue public-private partnerships, and look at technological innovations, she said.</p> <p>On small businesses, Barro asked about why Wiley’s platform would have the city increase the number of restaurant health inspections, but to have those inspections announced in advance. Wiley said sometimes the city’s efforts to protect health can backfire by “jeopardizing the business rather than serving the public,” and that her plan would maintain restaurants’ compliance with health code violations while</p> <p>Adding to her response, Wiley said she would streamline small businesses’ interactions with the city and grow their relationship with the city. She would want the city to be more proactive in their assistance to small businesses, so that they work together to solve problems rather than having the city shutting down actions after the fact. As an example, she mentioned having the city release blueprints for COVID-19-safe outdoor dining vestibules, rather than punishing restaurants for non-compliant vestibules after those businesses spent thousands of dollars “that they don’t have” on them. This would be “business-friendly, without sacrificing the issues we have to protect for the public,” she said.</p> <p>Barro asked Wiley if there were other “big pilots” such as Open Streets she would want to pursue as mayor. “City government is a city unto itself,” she replied, and said that it is important to “recognize where government needs to partner with itself” better. To that end, she mentioned her plan to create an Office of Public Space Management, which would unite different agencies to create a centralized approach.</p> <p>

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by Grace Getman for Gotham Gazette

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</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/19100326256_f8195b816c_c.jpg" alt="warby parker business nyc" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>A Warby Parker event (photo:&nbsp;Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>This past week, advocacy group Tech:NYC and glasses company Warby Parker, among others, co-hosted a forum with seven leading Democratic candidates for mayor, who appeared one at a time to answer questions from Business Insider columnist Josh Barro about the city’s future and their agendas.</p> <p>The participating candidates, in order of appearance, were entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former federal housing secretary Shaun Donovan, former Wall Street executive Ray McGuire, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Maya Wiley, a civil rights attorney and former counsel to Mayor de Blasio. The event was co-hosted by AT&amp;T, Bowery Farming, Etsy, Harry’s, Via, WeWork, and Zola, among others.</p> <p>The questions, somewhat uniform to each candidate, focused on issues relevant to the tech and business communities, such as how to attract business to New York City in the post-COVID-19 economy, the failed Amazon ‘HQ2’ deal, housing development, and expanding broadband access.</p> <p><strong>Andrew Yang</strong><br />Barro asked Yang as a businessman how he thought that businesses choose to locate in New York, and how as mayor Yang would make them more interested in the city. Citing his experience in start-ups, Yang argued that the location of companies depends on where their employees would like to be. He said that “if there’s one thing that makes the world goes around for founders, it’s talent.”</p> <p>To make the city more attractive to employees, Yang honed in rectifying quality-of-life issues such as “getting schools open to garbage pick up to public safety concerns.” He reiterated his oft-cited stance that the city must restore its “value proposition” to business owners and others alike to make some of the challenges of the city, like cost and commutes, worth it.</p> <p>Barro asked why “garbage is piled high on the sidewalks” and why the city has not moved to containerized pick-up. Yang called out the cuts to the Department of Sanitation budget, saying that “if you’ve noticed more trash on the street, that’s why,” and saying that is something he would restore funding to.</p> <p>Barro moved on to ‘HQ2,’ which was slated for Queens before activists and elected officials who opposed the Amazon deal pushed the company to back out, and the role of subsidies in attracting major technology companies to New York City. Saying that “Manhattan has a natural draw,” Yang acknowledged the role of subsidies in attracting companies to the other boroughs.</p> <p>Yang said that he supported ‘HQ2’ for Queens, and falsely said, “I’m one of the only mayoral candidates who’s said on the record that losing Amazon was a mistake for the city.” Barro pressed Yang on whether the “billions in subsidies” that Amazon would have received would have been worth it. Yang said it wasn’t great policy. “You can’t just let them walk away,” Yang said, citing the many thousands of jobs the campus was slated to create and support of the service industry it would have provided.</p> <p>Barro then asked if changes to corporate structures that allow for remote work, accelerated by the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, affected the city’s ability to attract tech companies. “New York City is fundamentally a place-based economy,” Yang said, and “the New York City advantage will still be there.” Barro pressed Yang further on the difference of attracting workers versus attracting firms, asking Yang how his strategy to attract companies would change. Yang admitted that the city will have to “compete and make its case” in a way it did not have to in the past, adding that he is exploring “incentives” for workers to commute to the city five times a week, mentioning gift cards to New York City bars and restaurants as a possibility, and making investments to increase tourism.</p> <p>Barro asked Yang about reducing the sky-high costs of the city’s capital projects. Yang said he would have the city “be more disciplined” about having contractors focus on the quality of their work rather than sub-contracting. He also mentioned he would streamline bureaucracy, saying that it was not user-friendly for small businesses.</p> <p>Asked how many housing units the city should build over the next ten years, Yang did not present a specific figure, saying only that it would be in “the tens of thousands” for his first term and that he would want to increase the rate of housing development in the city. Seemingly underprepared to discuss housing development goals, Yang pivoted to his pledge to reduce street homelessness “by 50%” over his first term, and said he would want to convert some vacant hotels into affordable and supportive housing.</p> <p>Barro concluded by asking Yang if he had connected with any of the other mayoral candidates, to which Yang responded that he was “a huge Kathryn Garcia fan” and that she was someone he “admired a great deal.”</p> <p><strong>Kathryn Garcia</strong><br />Asked why she is the best candidate for mayor, Garcia told Barro that “understanding how the city works is absolutely critical, because then you can actually fix things” and “know where the pain points are.” She said her managerial experience in various roles in city government made her the strongest potential next leader for New York City.</p> <p>Barro asked Garcia about the city’s garbage situation, asking if it was possible to “get it off the sidewalks and into closed containers,” to which Garcia said it was fully possible, and that part of that effort would require the city “rethink the public realm” about how street space is used. She mentioned that as sanitation commissioner she had launched a pilot program for commercial corridors that is being implemented.</p> <p>Asked how she thought public spaces were being underutilized, Garcia advocated that “you need people walking the streets of New York, spending money” and that public space management efforts should look at “Open Restaurants, Open Culture, but also thinking about greening the city,” with references to two recent pandemic-era public space programs launched by the city.</p> <p>On attracting companies to the city, Garcia said she would focus on a “liveable city,” as companies “locate where they have really strong labor forces.”</p> <p>“We have to do way better” building housing, Garcia said, adding that her efforts would target “unlocking the private sector by getting rid of the bureaucracy” and building between 20,000 and 30,000 units a year. Citing that “time is money in construction” and that “we don't actually do good planning,” Garcia said she would increase community input and reduce bureaucracy. Barro challenged her on this point, asking how she would resolve situations where increased considerations would conflict with expeditiousness, citing her support while working under de Blasio for special construction permits for hotels. Garcia sidestepped the first part of the question, only defending her support of special permits for hotels.</p> <p>On expanding broadband access, Garcia said she would target lowering costs, facilitating rule changes to make the expansion of broadband easier in communities, and having the city connect residents to broadband themselves if companies did not create broadband access where the city would like.</p> <p><strong>Eric Adams</strong><br />Adams said that he is the best candidate for mayor because of his life experiences from growing up in poverty, experiencing police brutality, becoming a police officer himself, and his diabetes diagnosis that he went on to beat through a healthy lifestyle. As “someone who has gone through a lot,” Adams said he was in the best position to help other people “going through a lot.”</p> <p>On how companies should be “respectful” in the city and be good neighbors, something Barro brought up as Adams has discussed it in the past, Adams said he would challenge corporations to think on the question “how do I involve myself in the communities put in place long before me?” such as working with the Department of Education to teach children life skills. On how he would actually accomplish these partnerships, Adams pointed towards working with specific organizations and not “demonizing companies” and creating “this synergy that we are in this together.”</p> <p>Examining his stated plan to name an “efficiency czar” to make city government work better, Barro asked how Adams’ approach to reducing waste differed from past tactics under Bloomberg and de Blasio. Adams argued that “the city is dysfunctional” because “agencies are not aligned” and pointed to his record in the NYPD using data and technology as part of the department’s modern evolution. When pressed by Barro on how agencies would operate differently, Adams cited his mother saying “What gets measured, gets done. If you don’t inspect what you expect, it’s all suspect,” and said he would want real-time data for examining basic city services.</p> <p>Barro gave Adams the same question he gave to Yang on whether the city should push for tech companies to locate in boroughs other than Manhattan and whether Adams would support subsidies to make that happen. Adams denied that the city needed a subsidy program, and turned to discussing quality-of-life issues. To “build the proper environment” for companies to locate all over the city, he would focus on providing services such as access to transportation, public safety, and high-speed internet, he said.</p> <p>Barro brought up the defeated Industry City rezoning in Brooklyn, an expansion and development proposal promising thousands of jobs and more economic activity along the Brooklyn waterfront that was ultimately defeated by local activists and City Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “It’s really unfortunate that we could not seal the deal in Industry City,” Adams said, adding that on development projects in general he would want to focus on being inclusive but also on “how can we get to a yes.” On whether or not local Council members have too much power to kill projects in their districts, Adams argued that for projects that affect the entire city, one member of the City Council should not have the power to shut them down, an informal practice known as “member deference” where the full Council defers to the local member whose district the proposal is slated for.</p> <p>On housing, Adams told Barro that asking how many units of housing to add was “the wrong question” and that the city should audit its current housing to see where there are vacancies or lack of use and go from there. Barro pushed back, saying that even with auditing vacant housing more housing must be developed because of the city’s growing population, on which Adams deflected and instead pressed his desire to identify unused housing.</p> <p><strong>Shaun Donovan</strong><br />Barro opened his conversation with Donovan, the former head of housing in the city and nationally under Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama, on housing. Donovan said the city should add 50,000 units per year, a very large goal, and touted his “15-minute neighborhoods” plan to ensure every New Yorkers lives in a great neighborhood with access to everything they need.</p> <p>On rezonings, Donovan said he was open to upzonings for more housing, such as what the de Blasio administration is currently attempting in SoHo. He added that there should be a “citywide land use budget” to “make sure every community is doing its fair share,” through looking at ways to add density and using citywide inclusionary zoning.</p> <p>After Barro asked what he would do differently to add housing from his time under Bloomberg, Donovan said the scope of the city’s housing problem is wide enough that “changing the trajectory” for the city takes years. He also said he was proud of the Bloomberg legacy on upzoning wealthier communities.</p> <p>On lowering the cost of construction, Donovan discussed “building differently” such as using new technologies and having an administration “that brings innovation to every phase of what government does.”</p> <p>On attracting increasingly mobile workers and firms to New York City, Donovan called himself “an urban optimist” and that the question was about whether or not specifically New York City could manage the challenge. New York City can become the “tech center” of the world, he said, and he would make it happen through his specific plans and by focusing on quality-of-life issues.</p> <p><strong>Ray McGuire</strong><br />McGuire argued that he was the best candidate for mayor because of his private sector experience, where he was one of the top executives at Citi and on Wall Street more generally, saying that “this is not the time where someone gets to the mayoral spot to learn how to manage or lead.”</p> <p>On attracting businesses, McGuire said that the city should “incentivize businesses to do more business here, not less” and that he would work on uniting business interests with the rest of the city, rather than pursuing divisive measures such as increasing taxes.</p> <p>To move “job centers out to the outer boroughs,” McGuire supported using subsidies, which he referred to as incentives. McGuire said the collapse of the Amazon ‘HQ2’ deal was a mistake and that the project would have been a big net positive for the city, even with the subsidies.</p> <p>On expanding broadband access, McGuire said it’s essential for education, and pointed to his economic comeback plan, which would include efforts to create universal broadband access.</p> <p>To improve the efficiency of the city’s capital projects and “to bring costs under control,” McGuire said he would “bring all constituents to the table.” He said that he “wasn’t in anyone’s pocket” and that his “sole focus” is on what is best for the city, that he’s not “focused on sub-agendas.” He referenced de Blasio’s tagline of the “Tale of Two Cities,” saying that now New York City was a “fractured city.”</p> <p>Calling his answer “nonspecific,” Barro pushed McGuire to elaborate on what made his leadership skills unique. McGuire said that, having led a global business, he was the only candidate with the skills to unite the diverse constituencies of New York City and focus on “shared prosperity.”</p> <p>On housing, McGuire said he would like to increase the city’s housing units by 10%, or 350,000 units. Barro asked McGuire for a timeline on such development, which McGuire side-stepped, pointing to lowering construction costs and the economic benefits new construction would bring.</p> <p><strong>Scott Stringer</strong><br />Stringer said he should be the next mayor in part because he is a “real seasoned government leader, who has vision and experience.”</p> <p>Barro asked Stringer how he would seek to regain jobs lost in the COVID-19 pandemic, confronted with “an economy that may be permanently different in certain ways,” citing business travel as something that may permanently decrease.</p> <p>Stringer replied that he would focus on small businesses, including by directing $1 billion from the city’s federal stimulus money to them. He would provide tax incentives for new businesses to locate in the city in "vacant corridors” and would make sure small businesses are not “fined and fee-ed into oblivion.” He said small business owners would not need to hire an expediter to get projects approved in the city and he would create a tech platform for small businesses to use to efficiently navigate city processes.</p> <p>Asked what he would do differently from Bloomberg and de Blasio on the issues of inefficiency in small business processes, Stringer lambasted de Blasio by saying “what he didn’t do was govern.” Saying “you gotta manage this town,” Stringer said that he would focus on actually accomplishing goals that the city sets for itself.</p> <p>On attracting tech companies to boroughs other than Manhattan and the role of subsidies in those conversations, Stringer said “it’s exciting that we’re spreading our economy out,” that “if we build it, they will come,” that he would focus on quality-of-life issues such as transportation, and that attracting businesses relies on the “value proposition” of what the city can offer businesses.</p> <p>On how many housing units he would seek to create as mayor, Stringer said “as many as possible,” but he said key to his vision is creating enough “low-income housing” to actually meet the need in the city. Looking at the legacies of Bloomberg and de Blasio, he said, “We’ve had mayors talking about these big numbers, but they have not helped people get housing.” His efforts would focus on housing that targets those close to homelessness and would focus on true affordability. He would create 10,000 units of low-income housing and “catalogue” the vacant parcels the city owns for potential developments.</p> <p><strong>Maya Wiley</strong><br />Saying that the COVID-19 pandemic “pulled the curtain back” on the issues the city faced, Wiley said that the challenge for the next mayor would be to “create a more unified city.” Doing this requires “very different leadership” to pursue “transformative policy,” Wiley said, adding, “I’m not a politician, and I think that’s the point.”</p> <p>On expanding broadband, Wiley pointed to her work on universal broadband when working for de Blasio at City Hall by soliciting input from outside groups such as Girls Who Code, and by unifying the efforts of different agencies to work on the project. When Barro pushed Wiley for concrete steps for accomplishing universal broadband, she said she would focus government efforts on the “last mile problem in highly, highly, underserved areas” by “asset-mapping” current city resources that could be used to provide universal broadband. She would also pursue public-private partnerships, and look at technological innovations, she said.</p> <p>On small businesses, Barro asked about why Wiley’s platform would have the city increase the number of restaurant health inspections, but to have those inspections announced in advance. Wiley said sometimes the city’s efforts to protect health can backfire by “jeopardizing the business rather than serving the public,” and that her plan would maintain restaurants’ compliance with health code violations while</p> <p>Adding to her response, Wiley said she would streamline small businesses’ interactions with the city and grow their relationship with the city. She would want the city to be more proactive in their assistance to small businesses, so that they work together to solve problems rather than having the city shutting down actions after the fact. As an example, she mentioned having the city release blueprints for COVID-19-safe outdoor dining vestibules, rather than punishing restaurants for non-compliant vestibules after those businesses spent thousands of dollars “that they don’t have” on them. This would be “business-friendly, without sacrificing the issues we have to protect for the public,” she said.</p> <p>Barro asked Wiley if there were other “big pilots” such as Open Streets she would want to pursue as mayor. “City government is a city unto itself,” she replied, and said that it is important to “recognize where government needs to partner with itself” better. To that end, she mentioned her plan to create an Office of Public Space Management, which would unite different agencies to create a centralized approach.</p> <p>

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by Grace Getman for Gotham Gazette

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</p>
Teachers Union Grills 'Final Four' Candidates in Its Mayoral Race Endorsement Process 2021-04-09T04:00:00+00:00 2021-04-09T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10361-teachers-union-uft-grills-final-four-mayoral-race-endorsement Allison Smith asmith@gg.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/50294068643_8eef92ed10_c.jpg" alt="UFT Mulgrew schools" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>UFT President Michael Mulgrew (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) invited the “final four” Democratic candidates for mayor it is considering endorsing in this year’s election to a public forum on Wednesday as the New York City teachers union determines which of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Comptroller Scott Stringer, civil rights attorney Maya Wiley, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang it will back in the primary set for June.</p> <p>Union leaders and the candidates covered a range of topics, including charter schools, gifted and talented programs, high-stakes testing, mental health services for students, teacher retention rates, remote learning programs, WiFi and technology access, PTA funding, and more. Candidates discussed how the city should address learning loss and psychological trauma from the pandemic and closed schools and tried to pitch themselves as the most qualified to develop and execute a comprehensive and equitable educational plan that will address long-standing inequities that the pandemic exacerbated.</p> <p>Michael Mulgrew, the UFT president, moderated the event, while he and numerous union members posed questions to the candidates and pushed them on the union’s priorities. Throughout the 90-minute forum, a rare such event as part of any labor union’s endorsement process, Mulgrew challenged the candidates to fully explain their viewpoints, often inserting his and the union’s point of view, and asking follow-up questions. Most questions were posed to specific candidates, including on multiple occasions where Mulgrew indicated the union’s skepticism of Adams and Yang, though there was overlapping subject matter.</p> <p>The forum provided candidates an opportunity to impress the UFT Delegate Assembly, who will issue their endorsement soon, with the union among the last of the city’s largest to choose which candidate it is backing. The UFT has struggled to get its chosen candidate over the finish line in many recent mayoral elections -- in the last open race, it backed Bill Thompson, who lost the Democratic primary to Bill de Blasio, whom the union has mostly had a good relationship with, though it has been deeply strained during the pandemic.</p> <p>Although Yang is leading in the early polls, he has come into conflict with union, particularly over recent <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2021/03/18/yang-lays-blame-on-teachers-union-for-sluggish-pace-of-school-reopenings-1368977" target="_blank" rel="noopener">remarks he made to Politico New York</a> that put blame on the UFT for what Yang deemed as a too-slow pace of school reopenings. During his presidential campaign, Yang described himself as “pro-charter” school, which is anathema to the UFT, and questioned how quickly teachers are able to become tenured -- two stances Mulgrew pushed him on during Wednesday’s forum. Adams was also questioned over his support for charter schools.</p> <p>Stringer and Wiley have stronger apparent alignment with the UFT on policy, and both have proposed expansion of the teacher workforce as part of their campaigns. Stringer is a long-time ally of the union, which helped him win both his highly-competitive first races for Manhattan Borough President and Comptroller. He has been seen as the favorite for the union’s endorsement in this race, but there are many considerations involved. Adams and Wiley have thus far won some of the other major union endorsements, while Stringer has also picked up some, including the union of school principals and administrators just this week.</p> <p>“We've really robbed our children of the joy of learning with high-stakes testing,” said Adams, who kicked off the forum by describing his third-grade teacher, who “inspired me and placed the joy of learning inside me.” Adams decried the lack of resources available to teachers, saying, “Far too often our teachers must go into their own pocketbooks or pockets, or they have to do without in their classroom.” As mayor, Adams would “give them the tools they need.”</p> <p>“We should be doing more to provide technical education, apprenticeship and vocational paths to kids in high school, in particular high school is when the rubber hits the road for a lot of these kids,” said Yang when asked how he would increase internship opportunities for high school students. Yang said he would partner not only with large corporations but also small business owners, citing his first job experience as a busboy.</p> <p>During an early lightning round, candidates were asked to limit their answers to “yes” or “no,” though they often struggled to do so, and in some cases candidates were asked to elaborate on their answers. Candidates were divided in their responses on topics related to mayoral control of schools, the state cap on charter schools, and high-stakes testing.</p> <p>Asked if they would keep the current model of mayoral control, Wiley and Adams said no, indicating they wanted mayoral control but with changes, and Stringer said, “Yes, with changes.” Yang gave the only unequivocal yes, explaining his belief it “has been a net positive for the city since the change was made.”</p> <p>Candidates unanimously answered “no” when asked if they would continue testing kindergarteners for gifted and talented programs, although Yang specified, “When asked that way, no.”</p> <p>Candidates also unanimously answered “yes” when asked if every school deserved a gifted and talented program, though Wiley specified, “Yes, redefined.”</p> <p>Asked to explain his stance, Stringer emphasized democratizing access and resources, saying, “The ultimate way we're going to make every classroom and every school gifted and talented is by actually investing in the same resources gifted and talented classrooms have, and that starts with investing K-to-5, two teachers in every classroom, a head teacher and assistant teacher, just like they do in private schools.”</p> <p>Candidates unanimously agreed to keep the cap on charter schools, though the answers held some nuance. “We don't need to increase the number of charter schools that we have,” said Adams. “There are some failing charter schools—people want to believe there aren't, but there are—and let's phase them out and allow those successful schools, those schools that are really focusing on achievement, and allow them to fill those slots.” Yang has indicated he believes that the currently unused but previously awarded charters should be re-issued, so not raising the cap but allowing for the creation of new charter schools.</p> <p>Asked if they would keep the standardized Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) as the only criteria for admissions to the city’s eight specialized high schools, candidates had time to answer briefly then elaborate.</p> <p>Wiley said “no,” explaining, “I think we should actually be talking about how amazing every last one of our high schools should be and how amazing every last one of our students are, and focus on what invests in all of their success.”</p> <p>Stringer said no and specified that he would “end the SHSAT for specialized schools” and “replace the SHSAT with the seventh-grade test,” arguing it’s more reflective of the content teachers are teaching in classrooms. He noted that the SHSAT “denies kids of color opportunity,” and so replacing the test would “diversity the student bodies of the specialized schools.”</p> <p>Adams said he would keep the SHSAT test but noted he would “use a cross-section of criteria” to make the admissions process more holistic. “We have a lot of children with special needs that are gifted that are being denied access, or English as a second language,” he said. Adams also called for the creation of five new specialized high schools, one in each borough, arguing, “We put too much of our oxygen in the room for eight schools, when we have over 400 high schools that need the assistance that they deserve.”</p> <p>Yang took a similar stance to Adams, saying he “would keep the SHSAT, but use other criteria, as well.”</p> <p>Tensions rose when Mulgrew pressed Yang to clarify his position regarding comments he made during the Politico interview, when Yang said, “I will confess to being a parent that has been frustrated by how slow our schools have been to open, and I do believe that the UFT has been a significant reason why our schools have been slow to open.”</p> <p>Mulgrew also referenced Yang’s past comments calling himself “pro-charter” and saying, “I think it’s ridiculous that we’re tenuring teachers at like the two-year mark or something, and make it so you can’t be paid or you can’t be disciplined or fired.” Mulgrew asked Yang if he stood by all these stances.</p> <p>“Mike, you and I had a productive conversation afterwards where you conveyed to me that it’s been a failure of leadership on the part of the mayor and that the teachers need a partner who’s committed to reopening the schools in a responsible way that protects teachers and makes everyone feel safe and secure,” Yang responded, though he did not explicitly amend or retract his original position, reiterating that he was speaking as a frustrated parent. “I agree that the mayor has failed the teachers and public school parents like me at providing the leadership that we needed to get our schools to reopen more quickly.”</p> <p>Yang also reiterated his original remarks regarding tenure, saying, “I think that teachers are awesome. But there are a lot of teachers that I think could stand a bit more seasoning before you give them a certain degree of tenure or professional assurance, and that statement is something I would stand by.”</p> <p>Mulgrew pushed back, explaining that teachers receive tenure in four years, not two, as Yang’s original statement suggested (though Yang was talking more broadly than New York City at the time amid his presidential run). “The position of tenure is one of the most misunderstood things, and it's constantly used as a political football against the teachers,” said Mulgrew. “The protection for tenure means that more than 50% of the teachers never reached the tenure decision because they don't last in the profession.”</p> <p>Yang agreed that teacher burnout was “a structural problem,” saying, “As a public school parent, any parent would agree that we need to do more to support teachers and keep them in the profession.”</p> <p>Asked how he would manage the Department of Education to lower the rate of teacher burnout, Yang suggested, “If teachers are delivering at a very high level, they should be getting paid more,” or teacher merit pay, on top of smaller class sizes and more teachers in the classroom.</p> <p>Mulgrew took issue with Yang’s position. “I want to know why you would support something such as individual merit pay when all educational research on it now has proven it not to work for children,” he said.</p> <p>“I'm not suggesting that the compensation necessarily gets matched to something like, for example, test scores. I'm not for that,” explained Yang. He continued, “If you look at the amount of money we're spending per student, it’s really significant. And then if you look at the proportion of that that's going to actual teachers, it's really low.” Yang went on to suggest “paying teachers more from year one.”</p> <p>Adams was asked about his plan to fix inequities regarding access to the internet and technological devices for students. He began by citing his opposition to renewing Verizon’s citywide franchise on the grounds that the company has “ignored communities of color in impoverished areas.” Adams went on to criticize the Department of Education for failing to communicate with educators during the remote learning rollout, saying, “We need to really speak to the people closest to the action.” Adams called for “a real-time GIS mapping system to see where WiFi is located” and track when students receive devices. And he called for ensuring high speed broadband access, adding that he has “put over $130 million into our schools to help with technology,” in apparent reference to use of his capital budget as borough president.</p> <p>Mulgrew pushed back on Adams’ proposals, saying, “If we're going to actually tackle this, there has to be a management plan in place because I'm letting you know there is not one in place to do this systematically.”</p> <p>Adams suggested utilizing existing resources, such as the NYPD, which has demographics data for all schools, to deliver computers and tablets to students.</p> <p>In addition to technology, Adams said schools should be places where students can have a range of other health and wellness needs met. “Schools should be the focal point for the full development of the full personhood of our children—eyeglasses, or food pantries in every school, washers and dryers, toiletries, so many things are barriers to education,” said Adams.</p> <p>Wiley offered a similarly sweeping vision for the public education system, pledging to “build out the community school model...so that they’re also wraparound services for the entire family.”</p> <p>Yang and Stringer took different stances on accommodating families who want to participate in fully remote learning for the foreseeable future as the city still battles with COVID-19 and new variants.</p> <p>“We have to recognize that not one size fits all for parents and for students, and we should build that system out,” Stringer said.</p> <p>Yang, who has been the most vocal of the candidates about reopening schools faster, was reluctant to commit to building out a remote learning program. “I think it's too soon to tell whether a child is thriving,” he said, pushing back against Mulgrew’s assertion that teachers say some small population of students has done very well with remote learning and Stringer’s assertion that one of his two sons has done well with remote learning. Yang noted that the decision to participate in remote learning varied along racial lines. “We can’t force people, obviously, to do something. But we should be doing everything in our power to convey the information, which is that in-person instruction is a better approach,” said Yang, citing studies that have shown “in person-instruction is 30% to 70% more effective at content-based learning.”</p> <p>Wiley was asked if she would support housing subsidies for teachers. “I am actually putting forth a plan whereby we are going to create much more affordable housing and at the levels of affordability that our essential workers can actually pay,” said Wiley. She noted that she would repurpose at least some of the city’s vacant land to create affordable housing, an idea that has been central to Stringer’s housing framework for several years and he reiterated during the forum as well.</p> <p>Candidates were asked about utilizing the coming infusion of funds from the federal and state governments.</p> <p>Stringer voiced support for UFT’s recommendation that the city allocate $1 billion in federal covid relief funds for students’ mental health. He spotlighted his child care plan, which would “triple the number of kids in child care” by specifically targeting households making up $100,000 a year. He said the city should fund “full after-school programs,” a position he elaborated on later in the forum: “Under my education plan, we're going to equalize after-school funding. If one school gets chess, every school gets chess. One school gets robotics, every school gets robotics.”<br />“I'm going to make sure we're hiring 1,000 new teachers in order to bring class sizes down,” said Wiley, who noted doing so would “help us confront the reality of a traumatized community because we have to start individualizing our learning for our kids.” Wiley emphasized cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavioral therapy for students and “more summer youth employment.”</p> <p>Adams pledged to provide every first-time mother with a doula who will provide nutritional education and prevent “irreversible learning disabilities.” He stressed “real dyslexia screening in schools,” citing data that 30% of detainees at Rikers Island have dyslexia. He said he would expand the plant-based nutrition pilot program that he spearheaded at Bellevue Hospital “that’s reversing chronic diseases. He also mentioned providing children with healthy foods, ensuring every child in the foster care system has a home, and rebuilding trust with law enforcement.</p> <p>Although Yang decried the departure of what he said was 300,000 families from the city as a result of the pandemic, as well as the loss of 600,000 jobs, he did not directly explain how he would utilize the city’s flush coffers for its recovery.</p> <p>Wiley was asked to explain her stance on eliminating gifted and talented programs and improving integration in the city’s schools. Although Wiley chaired the School Diversity Advisory Group empaneled by Mayor de Blasio and has reiterated her support for the panel’s recommendations to replace gifted and talented programs with broader models, redraw district lines, and move away from from admissions screens to drive integration in the public school system, she has not yet emphasized school integration in her campaign so far.</p> <p>Wiley used her response time to primarily explain the panel’s recommendations regarding gifted and talented programs. “We have to expand the opportunity for gifted education, for helping invest in supporting the talents of all our kids, recognizing they all have one or some, and that there are far too many that don't get the benefit of the investments, and we don't have enough programs,” said Wiley. “What we saw was a proliferation of things called gifted and talented in low-income communities of color that actually weren't. That's what we wanted to avoid was the idea that because you slap the label on something, that that's what it was.”</p> <p>Educators who posed questions to the candidates raised concerns throughout the forum about addressing children’s mental health and trauma in the wake of the pandemic.</p> <p>“We have to triple the number of social workers in our schools,” said Stringer, who repeated his endorsement of the UFT’s proposal to provide more mental health services in the city’s schools throughout the forum.</p> <p>Yang joined the call for increased mental health services, saying, “The ratio right now of guidance counselors, social workers, mental health workers, per school, or per child is terrible, particularly when we know our kids are going to be coming back with learning loss, and in some cases trauma, emotional problems.”</p> <p>Mulgrew quizzed candidates on the UFT’s five-point pandemic recovery plan. While Adams and Stringer confirmed they’d read it, Wiley said she “read the Cliff’s Notes” and Yang said, “I confess I have not read it.”</p> <p>Adams has been a vocal supporter of charter schools and parent choice regarding where they decide they want their children to go to school, so he was asked if his stance had changed at all in light of a disability discrimination case concerning Success Academy, by far the city’s largest charter school network and which was court-ordered to pay $2.4 million. Adams clarified, “It was not a position on Success Academy. It was a position on charter schools. Charter schools—the successful ones, the ones that have scaled up excellence—we should duplicate just as we do our district schools that are doing an amazing job.”</p> <p>Stringer said he would implement a teacher’s residency program to reduce teacher turnover and improve diversity.</p> <p>To this point, Wiley flagged high-stakes testing as a significant cause of teacher turnover. “We've got to stop teaching to the test, and start teaching to our kids,” said Wiley, who said her kids’ favorite teacher left the profession “because of the tyranny of testing, she couldn't teach.”</p> <p>Asked how he would reduce the number of homeless students, Yang offered the notion of converting vacant hotel and office buildings into affordable housing units, an idea he has supported during other forums, as well. “If you look at a hotel, you can convert it in half the time and at half the cost than if you had ground up construction, even if the incentives were in place,” said Yang. “Even though I'm an optimist about the pace of New York City's recovery, I don't think that these hotels are going to be 100% utilized,” he said. He also called for increasing the value of housing vouchers.</p> <p>Stringer was pushed on his <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2021/02/07/hes-running-for-new-york-mayor-as-a-real-estate-foe-why-do-some-developers-support-him-1362333" target="_blank" rel="noopener">shifting</a> and <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10173-max-murphy-podcast-scott-stringer-runs-for-nyc-mayor-housing" target="_blank" rel="noopener">complicated</a> stance toward taking real estate industry donations. Stringer took real estate donations until making a new policy to decline funds from large developers. Although Stringer said he has returned some donations, he largely defended his war chest, citing the economic pressures of running as a mayoral candidate against well-funded competition, referencing without names former Wall Street executive Ray McGuire and former federal housing secretary Shaun Donovan.</p> <p>“The reality is I'm now running against a guy who's not in the campaign finance program; 20 billionaires are running super PACs. We have another candidate, who is not here tonight—his daddy is putting in a million dollars a week. And I gotta win this race,” he said of McGuire and Donovan, respectively.</p> <p>“The issue here, though,” said Mulgrew, “is that we've had 20 years of mayors telling us they’re fixing the homeless problems.”</p> <p>Stringer reiterated his promise to center affordable housing as mayor, citing his aggressive housing plan, which would require affordable caps for 25% of the housing in any new housing development anywhere in the city and focus on city subsidies to create housing for very low-income New Yorkers.</p> <p>In another lightning round section, candidates were asked if they would keep the current choice system for high school admissions more broadly, to which candidates unanimously said “no.” Candidates also unanimously said “no” on whether they would keep the current system for funding student sports programs.</p> <p>Candidates unanimously agreed that the Regents exams should not be reinstated next school year.</p> <p>Asked if wealthy PTAs should be required to share funds with less-wealthy PTAs, Yang was the only candidate who said “no,” explaining, “it should be voluntary.”</p> <p>In the final section of the forum, candidates were allowed to pose a question to another candidate of their choosing.</p> <p>Yang asked Stringer to explain more about his kids’ pandemic experience, noting they both have children around the same age, which led to a friendly exchange about a potential playdate.</p> <p>Adams asked Yang to explain controversial remarks he made about the difficulty of parenting and working in small New York City apartments during the pandemic, part of his explanation for spending many of the city’s worst covid days at his upstate home, as well as his point of view that UFT was a “significant factor” regarding delayed school reopenings.</p> <p>“I just need to understand why you felt as though these teachers didn’t put their lives on the line and those who are living in difficult surroundings did not leave the city and why you felt it was okay to do so,” said Adams.</p> <p>Yang explained, “I care deeply about what families of every circumstance are going through every day,” adding, “You’ve been in this a long time, so you understand what one quote pulled out of context in an interview actually is.” (There is no indication Yang’s quote was taken out of context, and the New York Times reporter whom he said it to <a href="https://twitter.com/katieglueck/status/1379938068598243333" target="_blank" rel="noopener">disputed his assertion on Twitter</a>.)</p> <p>Yang also said he had been out of the city campaigning to help elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, then to help Democrats win the two Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs, all of which were successful, though that travel did not occur until after the worst months of the pandemic in New York.</p> <p>Stringer challenged Adams to explain a position he expressed in a Bloomberg interview that one teacher could teach several hundreds of students remotely. In the interview, Adams said doing so “would be cost-effective,” but during the forum, Adams characterized the position as a “misquote.” Instead, he endorsed the UFT’s proposal of extended summer hours and hiring additional teachers. Although he did voice support for “utilizing remote learning,” he did not go into further detail.</p> <p>Wiley asked for Yang to clarify his stance on high-stakes testing given his experience as the founder of a test prep company (which was largely for helping people with entrance to graduate school programs, like the GMAT business school exam). “We’re actually outsourcing judgment that would be better in the hands of teachers,” said Yang, who argued that teachers “know who could use an enrichment program” and “you shouldn’t need to, frankly, have that kid sit for a test.” He also said the school system should “lighten up in terms of the kids’ perception of it,” but did not explain how that would be accomplished. He reiterated his point that other factors, such as teacher recommendations, interviews, extracurriculars, and background should inform the admissions process into the specialized high schools.</p> <p>

***
by Allison Smith for Gotham Gazette
 @GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this article.</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/50294068643_8eef92ed10_c.jpg" alt="UFT Mulgrew schools" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>UFT President Michael Mulgrew (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) invited the “final four” Democratic candidates for mayor it is considering endorsing in this year’s election to a public forum on Wednesday as the New York City teachers union determines which of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Comptroller Scott Stringer, civil rights attorney Maya Wiley, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang it will back in the primary set for June.</p> <p>Union leaders and the candidates covered a range of topics, including charter schools, gifted and talented programs, high-stakes testing, mental health services for students, teacher retention rates, remote learning programs, WiFi and technology access, PTA funding, and more. Candidates discussed how the city should address learning loss and psychological trauma from the pandemic and closed schools and tried to pitch themselves as the most qualified to develop and execute a comprehensive and equitable educational plan that will address long-standing inequities that the pandemic exacerbated.</p> <p>Michael Mulgrew, the UFT president, moderated the event, while he and numerous union members posed questions to the candidates and pushed them on the union’s priorities. Throughout the 90-minute forum, a rare such event as part of any labor union’s endorsement process, Mulgrew challenged the candidates to fully explain their viewpoints, often inserting his and the union’s point of view, and asking follow-up questions. Most questions were posed to specific candidates, including on multiple occasions where Mulgrew indicated the union’s skepticism of Adams and Yang, though there was overlapping subject matter.</p> <p>The forum provided candidates an opportunity to impress the UFT Delegate Assembly, who will issue their endorsement soon, with the union among the last of the city’s largest to choose which candidate it is backing. The UFT has struggled to get its chosen candidate over the finish line in many recent mayoral elections -- in the last open race, it backed Bill Thompson, who lost the Democratic primary to Bill de Blasio, whom the union has mostly had a good relationship with, though it has been deeply strained during the pandemic.</p> <p>Although Yang is leading in the early polls, he has come into conflict with union, particularly over recent <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2021/03/18/yang-lays-blame-on-teachers-union-for-sluggish-pace-of-school-reopenings-1368977" target="_blank" rel="noopener">remarks he made to Politico New York</a> that put blame on the UFT for what Yang deemed as a too-slow pace of school reopenings. During his presidential campaign, Yang described himself as “pro-charter” school, which is anathema to the UFT, and questioned how quickly teachers are able to become tenured -- two stances Mulgrew pushed him on during Wednesday’s forum. Adams was also questioned over his support for charter schools.</p> <p>Stringer and Wiley have stronger apparent alignment with the UFT on policy, and both have proposed expansion of the teacher workforce as part of their campaigns. Stringer is a long-time ally of the union, which helped him win both his highly-competitive first races for Manhattan Borough President and Comptroller. He has been seen as the favorite for the union’s endorsement in this race, but there are many considerations involved. Adams and Wiley have thus far won some of the other major union endorsements, while Stringer has also picked up some, including the union of school principals and administrators just this week.</p> <p>“We've really robbed our children of the joy of learning with high-stakes testing,” said Adams, who kicked off the forum by describing his third-grade teacher, who “inspired me and placed the joy of learning inside me.” Adams decried the lack of resources available to teachers, saying, “Far too often our teachers must go into their own pocketbooks or pockets, or they have to do without in their classroom.” As mayor, Adams would “give them the tools they need.”</p> <p>“We should be doing more to provide technical education, apprenticeship and vocational paths to kids in high school, in particular high school is when the rubber hits the road for a lot of these kids,” said Yang when asked how he would increase internship opportunities for high school students. Yang said he would partner not only with large corporations but also small business owners, citing his first job experience as a busboy.</p> <p>During an early lightning round, candidates were asked to limit their answers to “yes” or “no,” though they often struggled to do so, and in some cases candidates were asked to elaborate on their answers. Candidates were divided in their responses on topics related to mayoral control of schools, the state cap on charter schools, and high-stakes testing.</p> <p>Asked if they would keep the current model of mayoral control, Wiley and Adams said no, indicating they wanted mayoral control but with changes, and Stringer said, “Yes, with changes.” Yang gave the only unequivocal yes, explaining his belief it “has been a net positive for the city since the change was made.”</p> <p>Candidates unanimously answered “no” when asked if they would continue testing kindergarteners for gifted and talented programs, although Yang specified, “When asked that way, no.”</p> <p>Candidates also unanimously answered “yes” when asked if every school deserved a gifted and talented program, though Wiley specified, “Yes, redefined.”</p> <p>Asked to explain his stance, Stringer emphasized democratizing access and resources, saying, “The ultimate way we're going to make every classroom and every school gifted and talented is by actually investing in the same resources gifted and talented classrooms have, and that starts with investing K-to-5, two teachers in every classroom, a head teacher and assistant teacher, just like they do in private schools.”</p> <p>Candidates unanimously agreed to keep the cap on charter schools, though the answers held some nuance. “We don't need to increase the number of charter schools that we have,” said Adams. “There are some failing charter schools—people want to believe there aren't, but there are—and let's phase them out and allow those successful schools, those schools that are really focusing on achievement, and allow them to fill those slots.” Yang has indicated he believes that the currently unused but previously awarded charters should be re-issued, so not raising the cap but allowing for the creation of new charter schools.</p> <p>Asked if they would keep the standardized Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) as the only criteria for admissions to the city’s eight specialized high schools, candidates had time to answer briefly then elaborate.</p> <p>Wiley said “no,” explaining, “I think we should actually be talking about how amazing every last one of our high schools should be and how amazing every last one of our students are, and focus on what invests in all of their success.”</p> <p>Stringer said no and specified that he would “end the SHSAT for specialized schools” and “replace the SHSAT with the seventh-grade test,” arguing it’s more reflective of the content teachers are teaching in classrooms. He noted that the SHSAT “denies kids of color opportunity,” and so replacing the test would “diversity the student bodies of the specialized schools.”</p> <p>Adams said he would keep the SHSAT test but noted he would “use a cross-section of criteria” to make the admissions process more holistic. “We have a lot of children with special needs that are gifted that are being denied access, or English as a second language,” he said. Adams also called for the creation of five new specialized high schools, one in each borough, arguing, “We put too much of our oxygen in the room for eight schools, when we have over 400 high schools that need the assistance that they deserve.”</p> <p>Yang took a similar stance to Adams, saying he “would keep the SHSAT, but use other criteria, as well.”</p> <p>Tensions rose when Mulgrew pressed Yang to clarify his position regarding comments he made during the Politico interview, when Yang said, “I will confess to being a parent that has been frustrated by how slow our schools have been to open, and I do believe that the UFT has been a significant reason why our schools have been slow to open.”</p> <p>Mulgrew also referenced Yang’s past comments calling himself “pro-charter” and saying, “I think it’s ridiculous that we’re tenuring teachers at like the two-year mark or something, and make it so you can’t be paid or you can’t be disciplined or fired.” Mulgrew asked Yang if he stood by all these stances.</p> <p>“Mike, you and I had a productive conversation afterwards where you conveyed to me that it’s been a failure of leadership on the part of the mayor and that the teachers need a partner who’s committed to reopening the schools in a responsible way that protects teachers and makes everyone feel safe and secure,” Yang responded, though he did not explicitly amend or retract his original position, reiterating that he was speaking as a frustrated parent. “I agree that the mayor has failed the teachers and public school parents like me at providing the leadership that we needed to get our schools to reopen more quickly.”</p> <p>Yang also reiterated his original remarks regarding tenure, saying, “I think that teachers are awesome. But there are a lot of teachers that I think could stand a bit more seasoning before you give them a certain degree of tenure or professional assurance, and that statement is something I would stand by.”</p> <p>Mulgrew pushed back, explaining that teachers receive tenure in four years, not two, as Yang’s original statement suggested (though Yang was talking more broadly than New York City at the time amid his presidential run). “The position of tenure is one of the most misunderstood things, and it's constantly used as a political football against the teachers,” said Mulgrew. “The protection for tenure means that more than 50% of the teachers never reached the tenure decision because they don't last in the profession.”</p> <p>Yang agreed that teacher burnout was “a structural problem,” saying, “As a public school parent, any parent would agree that we need to do more to support teachers and keep them in the profession.”</p> <p>Asked how he would manage the Department of Education to lower the rate of teacher burnout, Yang suggested, “If teachers are delivering at a very high level, they should be getting paid more,” or teacher merit pay, on top of smaller class sizes and more teachers in the classroom.</p> <p>Mulgrew took issue with Yang’s position. “I want to know why you would support something such as individual merit pay when all educational research on it now has proven it not to work for children,” he said.</p> <p>“I'm not suggesting that the compensation necessarily gets matched to something like, for example, test scores. I'm not for that,” explained Yang. He continued, “If you look at the amount of money we're spending per student, it’s really significant. And then if you look at the proportion of that that's going to actual teachers, it's really low.” Yang went on to suggest “paying teachers more from year one.”</p> <p>Adams was asked about his plan to fix inequities regarding access to the internet and technological devices for students. He began by citing his opposition to renewing Verizon’s citywide franchise on the grounds that the company has “ignored communities of color in impoverished areas.” Adams went on to criticize the Department of Education for failing to communicate with educators during the remote learning rollout, saying, “We need to really speak to the people closest to the action.” Adams called for “a real-time GIS mapping system to see where WiFi is located” and track when students receive devices. And he called for ensuring high speed broadband access, adding that he has “put over $130 million into our schools to help with technology,” in apparent reference to use of his capital budget as borough president.</p> <p>Mulgrew pushed back on Adams’ proposals, saying, “If we're going to actually tackle this, there has to be a management plan in place because I'm letting you know there is not one in place to do this systematically.”</p> <p>Adams suggested utilizing existing resources, such as the NYPD, which has demographics data for all schools, to deliver computers and tablets to students.</p> <p>In addition to technology, Adams said schools should be places where students can have a range of other health and wellness needs met. “Schools should be the focal point for the full development of the full personhood of our children—eyeglasses, or food pantries in every school, washers and dryers, toiletries, so many things are barriers to education,” said Adams.</p> <p>Wiley offered a similarly sweeping vision for the public education system, pledging to “build out the community school model...so that they’re also wraparound services for the entire family.”</p> <p>Yang and Stringer took different stances on accommodating families who want to participate in fully remote learning for the foreseeable future as the city still battles with COVID-19 and new variants.</p> <p>“We have to recognize that not one size fits all for parents and for students, and we should build that system out,” Stringer said.</p> <p>Yang, who has been the most vocal of the candidates about reopening schools faster, was reluctant to commit to building out a remote learning program. “I think it's too soon to tell whether a child is thriving,” he said, pushing back against Mulgrew’s assertion that teachers say some small population of students has done very well with remote learning and Stringer’s assertion that one of his two sons has done well with remote learning. Yang noted that the decision to participate in remote learning varied along racial lines. “We can’t force people, obviously, to do something. But we should be doing everything in our power to convey the information, which is that in-person instruction is a better approach,” said Yang, citing studies that have shown “in person-instruction is 30% to 70% more effective at content-based learning.”</p> <p>Wiley was asked if she would support housing subsidies for teachers. “I am actually putting forth a plan whereby we are going to create much more affordable housing and at the levels of affordability that our essential workers can actually pay,” said Wiley. She noted that she would repurpose at least some of the city’s vacant land to create affordable housing, an idea that has been central to Stringer’s housing framework for several years and he reiterated during the forum as well.</p> <p>Candidates were asked about utilizing the coming infusion of funds from the federal and state governments.</p> <p>Stringer voiced support for UFT’s recommendation that the city allocate $1 billion in federal covid relief funds for students’ mental health. He spotlighted his child care plan, which would “triple the number of kids in child care” by specifically targeting households making up $100,000 a year. He said the city should fund “full after-school programs,” a position he elaborated on later in the forum: “Under my education plan, we're going to equalize after-school funding. If one school gets chess, every school gets chess. One school gets robotics, every school gets robotics.”<br />“I'm going to make sure we're hiring 1,000 new teachers in order to bring class sizes down,” said Wiley, who noted doing so would “help us confront the reality of a traumatized community because we have to start individualizing our learning for our kids.” Wiley emphasized cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavioral therapy for students and “more summer youth employment.”</p> <p>Adams pledged to provide every first-time mother with a doula who will provide nutritional education and prevent “irreversible learning disabilities.” He stressed “real dyslexia screening in schools,” citing data that 30% of detainees at Rikers Island have dyslexia. He said he would expand the plant-based nutrition pilot program that he spearheaded at Bellevue Hospital “that’s reversing chronic diseases. He also mentioned providing children with healthy foods, ensuring every child in the foster care system has a home, and rebuilding trust with law enforcement.</p> <p>Although Yang decried the departure of what he said was 300,000 families from the city as a result of the pandemic, as well as the loss of 600,000 jobs, he did not directly explain how he would utilize the city’s flush coffers for its recovery.</p> <p>Wiley was asked to explain her stance on eliminating gifted and talented programs and improving integration in the city’s schools. Although Wiley chaired the School Diversity Advisory Group empaneled by Mayor de Blasio and has reiterated her support for the panel’s recommendations to replace gifted and talented programs with broader models, redraw district lines, and move away from from admissions screens to drive integration in the public school system, she has not yet emphasized school integration in her campaign so far.</p> <p>Wiley used her response time to primarily explain the panel’s recommendations regarding gifted and talented programs. “We have to expand the opportunity for gifted education, for helping invest in supporting the talents of all our kids, recognizing they all have one or some, and that there are far too many that don't get the benefit of the investments, and we don't have enough programs,” said Wiley. “What we saw was a proliferation of things called gifted and talented in low-income communities of color that actually weren't. That's what we wanted to avoid was the idea that because you slap the label on something, that that's what it was.”</p> <p>Educators who posed questions to the candidates raised concerns throughout the forum about addressing children’s mental health and trauma in the wake of the pandemic.</p> <p>“We have to triple the number of social workers in our schools,” said Stringer, who repeated his endorsement of the UFT’s proposal to provide more mental health services in the city’s schools throughout the forum.</p> <p>Yang joined the call for increased mental health services, saying, “The ratio right now of guidance counselors, social workers, mental health workers, per school, or per child is terrible, particularly when we know our kids are going to be coming back with learning loss, and in some cases trauma, emotional problems.”</p> <p>Mulgrew quizzed candidates on the UFT’s five-point pandemic recovery plan. While Adams and Stringer confirmed they’d read it, Wiley said she “read the Cliff’s Notes” and Yang said, “I confess I have not read it.”</p> <p>Adams has been a vocal supporter of charter schools and parent choice regarding where they decide they want their children to go to school, so he was asked if his stance had changed at all in light of a disability discrimination case concerning Success Academy, by far the city’s largest charter school network and which was court-ordered to pay $2.4 million. Adams clarified, “It was not a position on Success Academy. It was a position on charter schools. Charter schools—the successful ones, the ones that have scaled up excellence—we should duplicate just as we do our district schools that are doing an amazing job.”</p> <p>Stringer said he would implement a teacher’s residency program to reduce teacher turnover and improve diversity.</p> <p>To this point, Wiley flagged high-stakes testing as a significant cause of teacher turnover. “We've got to stop teaching to the test, and start teaching to our kids,” said Wiley, who said her kids’ favorite teacher left the profession “because of the tyranny of testing, she couldn't teach.”</p> <p>Asked how he would reduce the number of homeless students, Yang offered the notion of converting vacant hotel and office buildings into affordable housing units, an idea he has supported during other forums, as well. “If you look at a hotel, you can convert it in half the time and at half the cost than if you had ground up construction, even if the incentives were in place,” said Yang. “Even though I'm an optimist about the pace of New York City's recovery, I don't think that these hotels are going to be 100% utilized,” he said. He also called for increasing the value of housing vouchers.</p> <p>Stringer was pushed on his <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2021/02/07/hes-running-for-new-york-mayor-as-a-real-estate-foe-why-do-some-developers-support-him-1362333" target="_blank" rel="noopener">shifting</a> and <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10173-max-murphy-podcast-scott-stringer-runs-for-nyc-mayor-housing" target="_blank" rel="noopener">complicated</a> stance toward taking real estate industry donations. Stringer took real estate donations until making a new policy to decline funds from large developers. Although Stringer said he has returned some donations, he largely defended his war chest, citing the economic pressures of running as a mayoral candidate against well-funded competition, referencing without names former Wall Street executive Ray McGuire and former federal housing secretary Shaun Donovan.</p> <p>“The reality is I'm now running against a guy who's not in the campaign finance program; 20 billionaires are running super PACs. We have another candidate, who is not here tonight—his daddy is putting in a million dollars a week. And I gotta win this race,” he said of McGuire and Donovan, respectively.</p> <p>“The issue here, though,” said Mulgrew, “is that we've had 20 years of mayors telling us they’re fixing the homeless problems.”</p> <p>Stringer reiterated his promise to center affordable housing as mayor, citing his aggressive housing plan, which would require affordable caps for 25% of the housing in any new housing development anywhere in the city and focus on city subsidies to create housing for very low-income New Yorkers.</p> <p>In another lightning round section, candidates were asked if they would keep the current choice system for high school admissions more broadly, to which candidates unanimously said “no.” Candidates also unanimously said “no” on whether they would keep the current system for funding student sports programs.</p> <p>Candidates unanimously agreed that the Regents exams should not be reinstated next school year.</p> <p>Asked if wealthy PTAs should be required to share funds with less-wealthy PTAs, Yang was the only candidate who said “no,” explaining, “it should be voluntary.”</p> <p>In the final section of the forum, candidates were allowed to pose a question to another candidate of their choosing.</p> <p>Yang asked Stringer to explain more about his kids’ pandemic experience, noting they both have children around the same age, which led to a friendly exchange about a potential playdate.</p> <p>Adams asked Yang to explain controversial remarks he made about the difficulty of parenting and working in small New York City apartments during the pandemic, part of his explanation for spending many of the city’s worst covid days at his upstate home, as well as his point of view that UFT was a “significant factor” regarding delayed school reopenings.</p> <p>“I just need to understand why you felt as though these teachers didn’t put their lives on the line and those who are living in difficult surroundings did not leave the city and why you felt it was okay to do so,” said Adams.</p> <p>Yang explained, “I care deeply about what families of every circumstance are going through every day,” adding, “You’ve been in this a long time, so you understand what one quote pulled out of context in an interview actually is.” (There is no indication Yang’s quote was taken out of context, and the New York Times reporter whom he said it to <a href="https://twitter.com/katieglueck/status/1379938068598243333" target="_blank" rel="noopener">disputed his assertion on Twitter</a>.)</p> <p>Yang also said he had been out of the city campaigning to help elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, then to help Democrats win the two Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs, all of which were successful, though that travel did not occur until after the worst months of the pandemic in New York.</p> <p>Stringer challenged Adams to explain a position he expressed in a Bloomberg interview that one teacher could teach several hundreds of students remotely. In the interview, Adams said doing so “would be cost-effective,” but during the forum, Adams characterized the position as a “misquote.” Instead, he endorsed the UFT’s proposal of extended summer hours and hiring additional teachers. Although he did voice support for “utilizing remote learning,” he did not go into further detail.</p> <p>Wiley asked for Yang to clarify his stance on high-stakes testing given his experience as the founder of a test prep company (which was largely for helping people with entrance to graduate school programs, like the GMAT business school exam). “We’re actually outsourcing judgment that would be better in the hands of teachers,” said Yang, who argued that teachers “know who could use an enrichment program” and “you shouldn’t need to, frankly, have that kid sit for a test.” He also said the school system should “lighten up in terms of the kids’ perception of it,” but did not explain how that would be accomplished. He reiterated his point that other factors, such as teacher recommendations, interviews, extracurriculars, and background should inform the admissions process into the specialized high schools.</p> <p>

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by Allison Smith for Gotham Gazette
 @GothamGazette

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</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this article.</p>
Max & Murphy Podcast: How the Next Mayor Can Listen to the 'Unheard Third' 2021-04-08T04:00:00+00:00 2021-04-08T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10358-max-murphy-podcast-how-the-next-mayor-can-address-the-needs-of-the-unheard-third Gotham Gazette bmax@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/april/taskforce-fl-relected.jpg" alt="taskforce fl relected" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>New Yorkers (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>April 7, 2021 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: How the Next Mayor Can Address the Needs of the 'Unheard Third'<br /></strong></p> <p>Emerita Torres of the Community Service Society of New York joined the show to discuss how the next mayor should address the needs of New Yorkers living in poverty, and how Democratic mayoral candidates have responded to CSS' survey.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/1024714081%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-HLUI0j5BRGQ&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc; line-break: anywhere; word-break: normal; overflow: hidden; white-space: nowrap; text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif; font-weight: 100;"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/gotham-gazette-max-murphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" title="Max &amp; Murphy">Max &amp; Murphy</a> · <a href="https://soundcloud.com/gotham-gazette-max-murphy/episode-289/s-HLUI0j5BRGQ" target="_blank" rel="noopener" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" title="Episode 289">Episode 289</a></div> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/april/taskforce-fl-relected.jpg" alt="taskforce fl relected" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>New Yorkers (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>April 7, 2021 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: How the Next Mayor Can Address the Needs of the 'Unheard Third'<br /></strong></p> <p>Emerita Torres of the Community Service Society of New York joined the show to discuss how the next mayor should address the needs of New Yorkers living in poverty, and how Democratic mayoral candidates have responded to CSS' survey.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/1024714081%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-HLUI0j5BRGQ&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc; line-break: anywhere; word-break: normal; overflow: hidden; white-space: nowrap; text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif; font-weight: 100;"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/gotham-gazette-max-murphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" title="Max &amp; Murphy">Max &amp; Murphy</a> · <a href="https://soundcloud.com/gotham-gazette-max-murphy/episode-289/s-HLUI0j5BRGQ" target="_blank" rel="noopener" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" title="Episode 289">Episode 289</a></div> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Highly Competitive Borough President Race Underway in Brooklyn 2021-04-06T04:00:00+00:00 2021-04-06T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10339-competitive-brooklyn-borough-president-race-democratic-primary Samar Khurshid & Amanda Salazar samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/april/4x1-mashup-edit.jpg" alt="4x1 mashup edit" width="600" height="247" /></p> <p>(l-r) Robert Cornegy Jr, Jo Anne Simon, Antonio Reynoso, Khari Edwards</p> <hr /> <p>With Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a Democrat, facing term limits and pursuing a bid for mayor, there is a competitive “open” primary race underway to replace him. More than a dozen candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination in the June primary, which is all but assured to decide the next borough president because of the overwhelming majority of registered Democrats in Brooklyn.</p> <p>The race features three City Council members, a State Assembly member, a former hospital executive with deep community ties, a bishop, a state committee person, a high school English and theater teacher, a daycare teacher and labor activist, a reference librarian and minister, a business administrator for non-profit organizations, and a gang violence activist. Like the rest of the party primary elections for all of city government — mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough presidents, and City Council seats — happening this June, the Brooklyn Borough President primary will feature ranked-choice voting for the first time.</p> <p>The office of borough president is a relatively ceremonial role without many concrete enumerated powers. A borough president can appoint members to various local and boroughwide boards, including half of all members of their borough’s community boards, local school boards, one member each to the citywide Panel for Educational Policy and City Planning Commission.&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the more important roles borough presidents play, albeit in an advisory capacity, is their voice in land use and development matters through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). The process determines how rezonings, changes with development, and city map alterations are made. Borough presidents also control millions of dollars in capital funding that they can allocate for infrastructure including everything from parks and playgrounds to schools and community centers.</p> <p>While there aren’t many other decision-making powers of the borough president, they can also sponsor legislation before the City Council, often in partnership with Council members, though the borough president can’t vote on those bills. The borough president can also <a href="https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2020/03/10/nyc-elections-2020-queens-borough-president-candidates-what-a-borough-president-does">award proclamations</a> to people he or she feels are notable and can convene task forces to discuss issues facing the borough, issue reports and policy recommendations, and advocate.</p> <p>And that is perhaps the most important power of the borough president, albeit an abstract one: the bully pulpit. The borough president is supposed to be the borough’s strongest advocate, representative, and cheerleader, a champion for diverse communities and for the borough as a whole. They are the link between the local districts and boards and the centralized City Hall and City Council, between their borough and the mayor and governor. A proactive borough president can influence major decisions.</p> <p>Brooklyn, like the rest of the city, is continuing to struggle with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and faces a long road to recovery. It is home to communities that have been disproportionately affected by the crisis, a result of long-standing inequities that stem from structural socio-economic disparities. There are also the perennial issues that are pertinent to all or most of the five boroughs including the lack of affordable housing, the future of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), large-scale rezonings, criminal justice, transit infrastructure, coastal resiliency, and more.</p> <p>More specific to Brooklyn, these and other issues manifest in terms of challenges like addressing coastal resiliency in the south of the borough, deciding how to rebuild or reinvent the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the revival of Coney Island’s tourist economy, environmental justice in northern Brooklyn, education equity and safety from hate crimes in the large Orthodox Jewish communities, the plan to build a new downtown jail as part of the closure of the Rikers Island complex, gun violence, poverty, and a lack of health care in parts of central Brooklyn, housing and displacement in gentrifying areas, and much more.</p> <p>Though there are 14 candidates running to be the next Brooklyn Borough President, the top tier — as determined by candidates’ public profiles, political experience, endorsements, fundraising, campaign activity, and more — consists of six: State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, City Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr., City Council Member Antonio Reynoso, City Council Member Mathieu Eugene, nonprofit executive Kimberly Council, and former Brookdale Hospital executive Khari Edwards. The other candidates include Robert Elstein, Pearlene Fields, Anthony Jones, Shanduke McPhatter, Robert Ramos, Jr., Trisha Ocona, and Lamor Miller-Whitehead.</p> <p>******<br />Gotham Gazette spoke with five of those leading candidates running for Brooklyn borough president, while Eugene did not respond to multiple inquiries. Highlights from those interviews and other key information about the six leading candidates are below, followed by, on page two of this article, information about the other candidates in the running for Brooklyn Borough President.</p> <p><strong>Robert Cornegy, Jr.</strong><br />Robert Cornegy, Jr., a two-term Democrat in office since 2014, represents Council District 36, which includes the neighborhoods of Bedford Stuyvesant and Northern Crown Heights.</p> <p>In the Council, Cornegy chaired the Committee on Small Business in his first term and now heads the Committee on Housing and Buildings. He championed several initiatives and bills to support small businesses including the Chamber On-the-Go mobile business support program and a bill to penalize landlords who harass commercial tenants. He also successfully sponsored a bill that requires the city health department to provide lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers at government agencies and offices where many New Yorkers get services.</p> <p>Among his more prominent achievements is the Kalief Browder law, which mandates that any person detained or incarcerated at Rikers for more than 10 days should receive the necessary vocational, educational, and health care services they need. He’s also been a proponent of expanding gifted and talented programs in elementary schools.</p> <p>Cornegy touts his experience in the Council as key to being successful as the next borough president, particularly his leadership on small business and housing issues. “I believe that those are the actual pillars by which recovery and resiliency will take place not only in the city, but also in the borough of Brooklyn, which to me drives the city,” he said in an interview.</p> <p>As with most candidates, Cornegy wants to pursue a new approach to land use and development, focused on creating truly affordable housing. “The three components to affordability in this borough are going to be the ability to access and utilize the powers in land use and zoning, but also the almost $100 million annually of capital funding that help reshape every corner of the borough,” he said.</p> <p>He wants to strike a balance in how development occurs in the borough, seeming to criticize both as-of-right market development and the major city-led rezonings aimed at encouraging new housing, including a portion that is rent-restricted. “The private-public partnership is what's really going to get us to affordability in this borough,” he said. “We've seen, when it’s driven by the private sector, abuses that are far too many to document. And we've also seen inequities when it's been led solely by the public sector,” he said.</p> <p>Cornegy did promise that before his term is up in the City Council, he would “reshape” ULURP to make the process more inclusive for communities on the ground, though he did not specify the legislative changes he would propose to do so. “I intend to do that as a legacy project before I leave the City Council,” he said.</p> <p>Among the ways that the Council is already considering changes to how the city pursues the larger context of housing development, rezonings, and all sorts of borough and local needs is comprehensive planning legislation championed by Council Speaker Corey Johnson and originally proposed by Council Members Brad Lander and Antonio Reynoso, another contender for Brooklyn borough president. Cornegy did say he supports “portions” of the bill, but could not say specifically which parts of it he opposed.</p> <p>But Cornegy repeatedly emphasized the need to ensure greater community input in rezonings. “It’s really important for us to look at rezonings and make sure they don't favor one demographic over another, and to make sure to give community viability and input in every single project. That's where communities have taken exception, not to the process in and of itself,” he said.</p> <p>That dynamic also played out in the city’s plan to build a borough-based jail in every borough except Staten Island, to replace Rikers Island, which is slated to close in 2026. Cornegy voted for the plan in the Council and takes pride in playing a role in the closure of Rikers.</p> <p>(In terms of changes to how the city does development, there is also a Council bill, pushed by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, to mandate a racial impact study as part of all rezoning proposals, but Cornegy did not mention it.)</p> <p>On the power of making appointments to community boards, which play an advisory role in land use at the hyperlocal level and where new term limits start being implemented next year, after a charter change was approved by voters in 2017 with the goal of seeing more turnover and diversity, Cornegy said he supports term limits but worries about completely replacing current members from the boards.</p> <p>“There are people who have institutional knowledge who we don't want to throw out. You don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater,” he said. “However, there should be a healthy mix of past, present and future community residents on these boards…Yes, we want fresh blood and fresh eyes but getting rid of tremendous institutional knowledge in the process is not the best thing ever.” (Community board term limits will be implemented on a staggered schedule and members can reapply to boards after being off for one two-year term.)</p> <p>Asked how he would ensure that community boards don’t become roadblocks to local projects like busways and bike lanes, as happens fairly often, Cornegy said there is no “blanket” approach. “Every community has their needs, and they're able to articulate those needs,” he said.</p> <p>As with most candidates, he expressed reservations about the NYCHA rescue plan being pursued by the de Blasio administration to raise funds for the struggling public housing authority and renovate and rebuild its many developments. On one portion of the plan, often called infill development as it would allow the lease of unused or underused NYCHA land to private developers to build housing, including or at times fully rent-restricted housing, Cornegy expressed opposition. “So in its current form, I'm not thrilled with that,” he said, “because of the concerns that I have around keeping those employees and labor members who have been a part of NYCHA, and those families who've lived in NYCHA.”</p> <p>Cornegy has been a clear supporter of charter schools and believes the state cap on their growth in the city should be lifted. “As a parent of six, I think it's important to give pathways for all children to be successful,” he said, noting that three of his children attend charters. “I think that there are solid arguments for raising the charter school cap,” he added.</p> <p>As borough president, Cornegy also said he would pursue a “comprehensive transportation plan” for the entire borough, assessing which communities need dedicated busways, which ones need protected bike lanes, and such. “A real robust program that can be driven actually, by the borough president's office, that incorporates the use of public transportation, protected bike lanes, and access to the waterways, is what's going to be necessary to get this entire borough moving,” he said.</p> <p>Cornegy’s campaign hasn’t been without controversy. <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2021/2/17/22288694/robert-cornegy-office-complaint">The City reported in February</a> on a complaint filed by a former Cornegy staff member alleging that he used official resources and staff for his campaign. Then in March, The City also <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2021/3/3/22312615/brooklyn-councilmember-robert-cornegy-called-nypd-on-constituent-in-sign-standoff-complaint-alleges">reported</a> on a verbal scuffle between Cornegy’s staff and a constituent.</p> <p>Still, Cornegy is seen as among the frontrunners in the race. He had about $493,000 in cash on hand as of the last campaign finance filing from March 15 (Due to a filing error, the CFB's database incorrectly showed he had more than $1 million). He has also received several prominent endorsements including from State Senators Diane Savino and Roxanne Persaud, Assemblymembers William Colton, Jaime Williams, and Erik Dilan, and City Council Members Chaim Deutsch, Alan Maisel, Laurie Cumbo, and Darma Diaz. He even has the backing of director Spike Lee and comedian Tracy Morgan.</p> <p><strong>Jo Anne Simon</strong><br />Since 2015, Simon has represented State Assembly District 52, which covers Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Gowanus, and parts of Park Slope. A lawyer by training, she previously ran a disability civil rights practice and is also an adjunct assistant professor of law at Fordham University.</p> <p>Before her time in office, Simon built her reputation as a community activist opposing large scale developments in the borough including Atlantic Yards and the closure and sale of Long Island College Hospital (LICH). That second project led her to introduce and pass through the Assembly a bill called the Local Input in Community Healthcare (LICH) Act, to ensure that the state health department cannot close hospitals without assessing the community’s health care needs. The bill has stalled in the State Senate.</p> <p>Simon has generally been anti-development over the course of her activism and elected career, even speaking up against the recently scrapped Industry City rezoning and the proposed Gowanus rezoning. She previously served as President of the Boerum Hill Association, chaired its committees on traffic and transportation, land use, and Atlantic Yards. She also chaired the Gowanus Community Stakeholder Group and Gowanus Expressway Community Coalition. In 2004, she was elected female District Leader and State Committeewoman for the 52nd Assembly District, and would go on to win the Assembly seat.</p> <p>“I am running because I am really tired of issues being categorized as women's issues and therefore being given less credence and less value,” she said in an interview. “It's time, I think, for some ‘good trouble,’ as Congressman [John] Lewis used to say. Women's issues are small business issues, they’re education issues, they’re health issues, they’re immigration issues, they’re environmental and economic and social justice issues. And it's time for women's leadership in Brooklyn.” As Simon noted, she would be the first woman ever to serve as Brooklyn Borough President.</p> <p>Simon said the borough president’s office is only limited by the way its holder uses it. “The real power is in the ability to lead by convening, by coalition building, and by a strategic use of capital funding, for example, to help shape and support issues that are consistent with policy,” she said.</p> <p>As with Cornegy, Simon wants to see changes to the ULURP process, though she said it should happen through an amendment to the city charter. “My approach to land use would be very different from what is currently in the charter,” she said. “[W]hat we have right now under ULURP isn't working really well for anybody, and nobody involved with that process is particularly enamored of it. What we really need is sort of smart, responsible and community driven development.” It was a veiled critique of the top-down approach employed by the de Blasio administration, which has often seen rezonings delayed or even derailed because of community opposition. More often than not, communities feel they have not been heard and several communities have even attempted neighborhood-led rezonings to meet their demands. “The ULURP process does not really involve the community. It was designed to make it look like it involved the community, but it doesn't actually involve them. So that sets up the community to be unhappy because somebody else came in with an idea and he's trying to sell it to them,” she said.</p> <p>The comprehensive planning legislation before the City Council ostensibly seeks to fix that issue by giving communities a greater voice. But Simon disagrees with the legislation as it stands. “I think we need comprehensive planning,” she said, “My concern about the speaker's approach at this juncture, without some modifications, is that it still ends up putting the development community in the driver's seat.”</p> <p>Besides giving communities more power, she also wants developers to give them more resources. “We need to find a way that developers when they develop, that they put in some money that goes to public services,” she said. “We need water and sewer, we need to build out our broadband seriously... That's infrastructure, right? We should be putting money into a pot to build schools where we need the schools.”</p> <p>But that wasn’t her only critique of the major neighborhood rezonings pursued by de Blasio, most of which have been focused on low-income communities of color. They come with the threat of accelerating gentrification and mass permanent displacement, she said, without adequate planning for community benefit. “The problem with these big rezonings is that everything's up for grabs in other words,” she said.</p> <p>A central concern for Simon is environmental justice, which&nbsp; runs through issues of land use, public health, transit and waterfront infrastructure. “To the extent that the borough president has a role in ULURP...in any kind of proposal, what is the impact on climate and climate justice?...That's the North Star there. And so everything then has to point in that direction,” she said, promising to strategically use capital funds to ensure all new projects are climate resilient.</p> <p>Though Simon may not be able to affect the borough-based jails plan, she nonetheless opposes it, insisting that the “critical flaw” was that the city did not place a facility in each borough. More facilities would have meant a more spread out jail population footprint and smaller facilities, she said. “I came out against that particular proposal, ultimately, even though I had wanted very much to be able to support it,” she said. “And so I think it could be improved significantly...I don't know what another administration would do to modify that.”</p> <p>Simon also promised to provide more resources to community boards to strengthen their ability to weigh in on land use matters “because we're asking people to evaluate incredibly complicated projects, beyond their area of expertise, and we're not giving them any help.”</p> <p>She believes NYCHA infill development is misguided. “You may have what looks like a lot of room. But the reality is, you'd have to build too close to the existing buildings and it would just be awful,” she said. “And it also just engendered a lot of fear and distrust in the part of the residents and I think that was unnecessary.”</p> <p>She is opposed to raising the charter school cap. “It’s a legislative decision as opposed to a borough president’s,” she said. She is supportive of building more dedicated busways and protected bike lanes, she said.</p> <p>Simon’s bid has been endorsed by several fellow elected officials and political clubs including State Senator Andrew Gounardes, Assemblymember Robert Carroll, former State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, 504 Democratic Club, former Assemblymember Joan Millman, Union of Arab Women of NYC, the Bay Ridge Democrats, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, Brooklyn Young Democrats, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn and Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats. She is in second place in fundraising and had over $727,000 in campaign cash as of March 15, but her filings also show an outstanding loan of $125,000, which Simon lent to the campaign.</p> <p><strong>Khari Edwards</strong><br />Khari Edwards was the vice president of external affairs at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center for more than seven years, where he was the first person of color to hold the position, according to his website. In this role, he worked with various community-based organizations to make the hospital a fixture of the local community, his site says.</p> <p>Before working at the hospital, Edwards served as <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/khari-edwards-0928196/">a special advisor to the Democratic leader</a> of the New York State Senate for nearly four years and as the regional representative for the Office of the New York State Executive Chamber for about two years, per his LinkedIn page.</p> <p>Edwards’ main four borough president campaign issues, according to his website, are housing and homelessness, healthcare, small businesses, and opportunities for youth.</p> <p>His main goal when it comes to housing is to ensure the creation of more units for families, meaning three to four bedroom apartments, which would benefit families that have children or extended family members living with them.</p> <p>“My first piece of legislation is any new city-funded development should be three or four bedrooms,” he told Gotham Gazette in a phone interview. “We haven’t built three and four bedrooms since, I think, 2006. I tell the story all the time that my wife and I, my three children, and my 85-year-old dad, we had a fire in our home, and while we were waiting to move back into our house, we couldn’t find a place that all of us could stay together.”</p> <p>For NYCHA, Edwards said he is not supportive of the federal <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/nycha/downloads/pdf/rad-fact-sheet.pdf">Rental Assistance Demonstration program</a> that encourages private management of public housing and the city is utilizing and expanding, and that more of the money that’s going to the public housing authority should be used to renovate existing properties and eliminate issues such as lead and mold inside the apartments.</p> <p>“I believe that public housing should remain public. It is the last frontier for affordability. I do think that, however, NYCHA needs to be fully renovated, fully invested in,” Edwards said, though he did not say where he believed the money should come from.</p> <p>Additionally on housing, Edwards wants to change how Area Median Income is determined and used for setting housing affordability thresholds.</p> <p>Edwards proposes using the AMI of each individual ZIP code, and then only approving affordable housing development projects if they include housing for people who make 50% of the ZIP code’s AMI.</p> <p>When it comes to the land use review process, ULURP, Edwards said that he believes it should become more community-based.</p> <p>“What I want to do is put the power back into the community’s hands and to make sure that our community boards have a vote in ULURP,” Edwards said, offering a major proposed change to how land use decisions are made given that community boards, like borough presidents, are currently in an advisory capacity.</p> <p>Edwards also wants to create a screening process to ensure that members of community boards are diverse and reflective of the district they serve. The screening committee would be made up of stakeholders — community members, churches, teachers and business owners — who would interview the candidates to help him make appointments.</p> <p>And he plans to promote community board meetings through newly-created marketing teams, as well as making sure those meetings are recorded and posted online for those who cannot attend in person.</p> <p>Edwards also wants each community board to set aside two positions for members 18 years old and younger and two positions for people ages 19-25.</p> <p>Other opportunities Edwards wants to provide for youth in the borough, according to his campaign website, are creating a youth job and internship portal and covering the costs of community-based organizations housed in city school buildings, like after-school programs.</p> <p>Edwards said he does not support raising the cap on charter schools. “I feel that charter schools, even though they’ve played their role, have really kind of decimated our public school system and I feel that charter schools have the ability to pay for their own space, but right now, with COVID...I don’t feel that all charter schools have our students’ best interests at hand,”&nbsp; he said.</p> <p>In terms of small business, his campaign website states that Edwards will use the borough president’s nonprofit fund to provide relief to small businesses and will create incentives to and a portal for businesses to collaborate with one another.</p> <p>Edwards has been endorsed by the large and influential DC 37 labor union as well as Brooklyn City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel and Assemblymember Nick Perry. As of the mid-March campaign finance filing he had raised a total of $673,204 in public and private funds.</p> <p><strong>Antonio Reynoso</strong><br />Reynoso, also a term-limited Democrat, represents City Council District 34, which includes parts of Bushwick, Ridgewood, and Williamsburg. Through his two terms in office, he has chaired the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, while he has focused on those issues, environmental justice, police accountability, and transit.</p> <p>Reynoso is framing himself as the progressive champion in the race and pitched his campaign for borough president in deeply personal terms. “I'm a son of two immigrant parents that got here with very little money,” he said in an interview. “Whether it was welfare, Section 8, food stamps, Medicaid, you name it, if there was a government aid that existed, my family had to take advantage of it just to give us a fair shot at life. So I knew from a very young age what government can do for people in need. And I want to make sure that I can pay that forward.”</p> <p>Reynoso wants to be the borough’s cheerleader, evoking the popular former Borough President Marty Markowitz, who was Adams’ predecessor. “Brooklyn gave me everything and Brooklyn is my home. I love it dearly. I want to bring a little bit of the Marty Markowitz back,” he said. But it’s not just the best bagels or pizza in town that he wants to promote. “I also want to make Brooklyn the model for progressive politics and progressive policy,” he said.</p> <p>Reynoso acknowledges the limited charter-mandated responsibilities of the office, with the focus on community board appointments and land use recommendations. “I think the strongest and most important responsibility is the bully pulpit,” he said. “You are representing Brooklyn, the largest county in the country, and you're representing an area that is larger than some states in some cases and definitely larger than most cities in itself.”</p> <p>At the top of his list for using capital dollars is creating more health equity across the borough, particularly for Black women who have historically suffered worse health outcomes. “I'm looking to outfit every single public hospital in Brooklyn with a state of the art birthing center,” Reynoso said. “I really want to start talking about Black women's health during childbirth. I think it's one of the most significant gross inequities that exist in our city, but definitely in Brooklyn.”</p> <p>As one of the original sponsors of comprehensive planning legislation that has been introduced in the City Council, Reynoso has long been a critic of the city’s current land use and development processes. The problem he sees is that the city looks at blocs of development rather than borough-wide needs, imposes rezonings rather than soliciting community input on their demands.</p> <p>“We could spread this burden of building housing in the city,” he said. “The comprehensive planning idea here is to allow for every community board to send us information about where they think potential development can occur, and then encouraging the city to build more equitably, as opposed to just cramming all their housing in these poor Black and brown neighborhoods,” he said. The legislation, championed by Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is running for Comptroller, has had one Council hearing and is among the major proposals that could be passed before the end of the term this year.</p> <p>Reynoso wants to expand the land use and planning expertise in the borough president’s office to provide technical assistance to community boards.</p> <p>The lack of comprehensive planning is also why Reynoso believes the rezonings pursued by the de Blasio administration in places like East New York are flawed, though he did reserve some judgement. “It's hard to determine whether a rezoning is good or bad in short order...The outcomes I guess dictate whether or not it was a good rezoning. So the jury's still out on these,” he said.</p> <p>“The rezonings are a product of a flawed process and a flawed process is going to have a flawed outcome,” he said. “So I think we need to start rethinking about how we're doing rezonings, rethinking the process. And until then, I can't necessarily say that I think any of these rezonings are beneficial to communities.” Last year, Reynoso was the leading elected official urging the administration to study a community-led rezoning plan for Bushwick, in his district, instead of an administration-led proposal. The rezoning was ultimately put on hold after the two sides could not come to an agreement on the scale and scope of the rezoning.</p> <p>Another failure of city government is that the administration tends to promise large-scale community investments only when proposing major neighborhood rezonings. “Why is it that we need a rezoning before they can start dealing with our sewer lines? Why is it that we need a rezoning before we can get transportation options or MTA stations or housing development?” Reynoso said. “There's just so many things that the city should be taking care of independent of rezonings.”</p> <p>He extended the argument to borough-based jails as well, calling them “a result of a flawed process,” though he does not regret voting in favor of the plan.</p> <p>“It's very hard to say that you want to build more humane jails, because jails in themselves are inhumane,” he said, explaining his conflict about the jails plan. “It's hard to make it independent,” he said of closing Rikers and not building new jails, “but we closed Rikers. That's what we set out to do. I am very happy and very proud of the vote. It was tough. It was a tough vote, but we closed Rikers...These new jails, there's still opportunities to have conversations about exactly what we want them to look like.”</p> <p>As borough president, Reynoso said he would be deliberate about diversifying community boards “with perspectives, with professions, with ethnicities and race, religion, age, income.” He also wants to ensure they do not prevent beneficial projects that he supports. “I don't want any community boards to be like the first stop of NIMBYism,” he said, referring to the oft-used community board philosophy of “not in my back yard.”</p> <p>He was direct about his opposition to the NYCHA infill development as it’s currently taking place, with mixed-income projects being pursued by the city. He insisted that private for-profit developers should not benefit from public land and should particularly not get an opportunity to build more market-rate housing there. “100% affordable housing done by not-for-profits is the way to go,” he said. “We need more affordable housing. Anything less than that is a big problem for me.”</p> <p>He went further, saying the infill program should be put on hold until a new administration comes to power.&nbsp; “I don't think that we should be having this conversation under this current mayor and his current leadership, because they just don't manage well,” he said. “And I think that this new election is going to be a mandate to do something different, and it not be this business as usual.”</p> <p>Reynoso is opposed to raising the charter school cap. “The issue that I have is that there's a double standard when it comes to these charter schools. There are things that are accepted there that are not accepted in public schools.”</p> <p>Reynoso, who has been a long-time proponent of public transit and of bike-riding in the city, supports building more dedicated busways and protected bike lanes. “Yes, 100%,” he said when asked about expanding both.</p> <p>Having championed successful legislation to create commercial waste zones across the city that will cut down on truck traffic and limit the over-saturation of low-income communities of color with waste stations, Reynoso said the approach to infrastructure, particularly climate resiliency, needs to be boroughwide, not based in individual communities along the waterfront. “Right now, every single community along the waterfront is having their own individual fight for resiliency up and down along the coast…What we should have is one coordinated effort where the city goes to the federal government and asks for funding for the entire coast of Brooklyn,” he said. “That is not what happens right now. When we don't coordinate our work together, the inequities start existing. The people who have more money or more political capital, end up getting more resources than the people that don't have that. And I don't want that to be the case.”</p> <p>“For me, it’s not so much about necessarily where you land on policy, because I don’t think many of us are going to be too far away on too many issues,” he said of the many candidates in the race. “It comes down to who do you think can deliver.”</p> <p>Reynoso has been endorsed by a ‘who’s who’ of progressive organizations and elected officials including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, former gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, fellow City Council Members Brad Lander, Margaret Chin, and Helen Rosenthal, State Senators Jessica Ramos and Julia Salazar, Assemblymembers Marcela Mitaynes and Maritza Davila, the Working Families Party, Make the Road Action, and the New Kings Democrats. As of March 15, Reynoso’s campaign had about $618,000 in cash on hand.</p> <p><strong>Kimberly Council</strong><br />Kimberly Council <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimberly-council-76159a1/">has worked for roughly two decades</a> as an associate minister at Historic Berean Baptist Church and as a senior reference librarian at Sullivan &amp; Cromwell LLP, a New York City-based international law firm. She has also run for several elected offices in recent years, including City Council and State Assembly.</p> <p>Council is running for borough president in part based on her lived experience of being raised in a publicly-subsidized home with her parents and four siblings, and dealing with food insecurity and poverty. She highlights her membership in the NAACP, Church Women United, and the National Council of Negro Women, and as the former president of the Law Librarian Association of Greater New York.</p> <p>Council’s top campaign issues are affordable housing and health care, but her website provides issue stances for an array of other topics as well.</p> <p>When it comes to housing and land use, Council said that the overarching goal is to make dealings more transparent and community-involved. “Typically by the time it gets to the community level, it’s already been through several different areas and we want to make sure that the community is involved in the project from the beginning and that the developer solicits their input as they’re developing the project,” she said in reference to the ULURP process and development proposals.</p> <p>She told Gotham Gazette in an interview that she would demand that 60% of all new housing projects that come to her for input as borough president be affordable at a lower, more localized <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/services-and-information/area-median-income.page">Area Median Income (AMI</a>).</p> <p>Additionally, Council’s borough president campaign website says that she plans to “Ensure that all proposed zoning changes consider educational infrastructure, healthcare infrastructure, impact on first responders, access to transit, impact on utility service, and environmental sustainability in the scope.”</p> <p>On the related topic of community boards, Council said that she wants the boards to be more diverse and to actually be representative of their communities. She also said that she feels communication is the key to ensuring that community boards work on behalf of their constituents.</p> <p>For NYCHA, the candidate said that she supports legislation by Reps. Nydia Velázquez’s and Yvette Clarke, both New York City Democrats, that would put more money into the housing authority, but she also wants to use the bully pulpit to push the mayor and governor to invest more money into NYCHA. By doing so, she said, the city would be able to ensure public housing facilities are environmentally sound and would be creating jobs around the developments.</p> <p>“We want to make sure that we are investing not just in the projects but in the people that live in those projects,” she said.</p> <p>When it comes to the closing of the Rikers Island jail complex, Council said that she is in favor of a community-based jails plan, but emphasized that community input needs to be taken into consideration when developing the plan (the city’s plan already went through the ULURP process and passed the City Council).</p> <p>“This will be something that you will see throughout every answer is that we want community input,” she said. “I want the community’s input in what it is that we’re going to do, don’t want this to be something where we come in and dictate, ‘This is what’s gonna’ happen,’ but that we have them involved in the process from the very beginning.”</p> <p>Council’s education plan is based on her experience as “a member of the White House Community Leader Briefing Series, where she advised high level Obama Administration officials on educational policy,” she says. According to her campaign website, she will fight for increased baseline funding from the city and state to hire more teaching assistants, librarians, nurses, and social workers.</p> <p>On the subject of charter schools, Council told Gotham Gazette that she does not support raising the state-imposed cap on charter schools that prevents new charter schools from being created in the city.</p> <p>Another component of her campaign is transit infrastructure, specifically to add more bus stops and lines, more ferry stops, and more protected bike lanes throughout the borough.</p> <p>She would like to see more stops added to the city’s <a href="https://www.ferry.nyc/routes-and-schedules/">five current ferry lines</a>, especially in south Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Coney Island and Mill Basin. A Coney Island ferry line is <a href="https://www.ferry.nyc/routes-and-schedules/route/coney-island-route/">already planned for a 2021 opening</a>, which will have a start/end point in Coney Island, a stop in Bay Ridge, and start/end at Pier 11 in Manhattan.</p> <p>Council said that while she would push to expand the number of bike lanes, she would also make sure that all bike lanes, both old and new, are clearly marked.</p> <p>She also plans on creating a “Mobile Borough Hall,” which would consist of social services that can be brought into communities so that they don’t have to go to the physical Borough Hall building for help.</p> <p>“I want to make Borough Hall a one-stop-shop for small businesses, for people in the community, for social services, for everything that everybody needs,” Council said. “They should know that they can come to Borough Hall to have their issues dealt with.”</p> <p>Council had raised about $84,000 as of the March campaign finance filing.</p> <p><strong>Mathieu Eugene</strong><br />Mathieu Eugene is the term-limited City Council member for the 40th District, which includes the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Park South, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.</p> <p>He has held this position since 2007, when he won in a special election, making him the first-ever Haitian-American elected to the New York City Council. Eugene chairs the Council’s Committee on Civil and Human Rights and previously chaired the Committee on Youth Services.</p> <p>Gotham Gazette was unable to find a borough president campaign website for Eugene, and he did not respond to multiple requests for an interview for this article. Eugene has been sending fundraising solicitations to his supporters by email, though his fundraising has been lackluster, and he has appeared at some candidate forums, but he does not appear to be campaigning aggressively.</p> <p>As of the March campaign finance filing, Eugene had raised about $54,000.</p> <p>*****<br />While the candidates discussed above are the apparent top six contenders for the position, there are still six other candidates vying for the role of Brooklyn Borough President.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10347-crowded-brooklyn-borough-president-field-takes-shape" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Go to page two of this article</a> to read about the remaining candidates and their backgrounds, past accomplishments, issue stances, and plans for the borough. <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10347-crowded-brooklyn-borough-president-field-takes-shape" target="_blank" rel="noopener">READ MORE.</a></p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid &amp; Amanda Salazar</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p> </p> <p>Note - this article has been updated to reflect accurate campaign fundraising numbers for Robert Cornegy. He has about $493,000 in cash on hand, not more than $1 million as previously stated.</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/april/4x1-mashup-edit.jpg" alt="4x1 mashup edit" width="600" height="247" /></p> <p>(l-r) Robert Cornegy Jr, Jo Anne Simon, Antonio Reynoso, Khari Edwards</p> <hr /> <p>With Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a Democrat, facing term limits and pursuing a bid for mayor, there is a competitive “open” primary race underway to replace him. More than a dozen candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination in the June primary, which is all but assured to decide the next borough president because of the overwhelming majority of registered Democrats in Brooklyn.</p> <p>The race features three City Council members, a State Assembly member, a former hospital executive with deep community ties, a bishop, a state committee person, a high school English and theater teacher, a daycare teacher and labor activist, a reference librarian and minister, a business administrator for non-profit organizations, and a gang violence activist. Like the rest of the party primary elections for all of city government — mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough presidents, and City Council seats — happening this June, the Brooklyn Borough President primary will feature ranked-choice voting for the first time.</p> <p>The office of borough president is a relatively ceremonial role without many concrete enumerated powers. A borough president can appoint members to various local and boroughwide boards, including half of all members of their borough’s community boards, local school boards, one member each to the citywide Panel for Educational Policy and City Planning Commission.&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the more important roles borough presidents play, albeit in an advisory capacity, is their voice in land use and development matters through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). The process determines how rezonings, changes with development, and city map alterations are made. Borough presidents also control millions of dollars in capital funding that they can allocate for infrastructure including everything from parks and playgrounds to schools and community centers.</p> <p>While there aren’t many other decision-making powers of the borough president, they can also sponsor legislation before the City Council, often in partnership with Council members, though the borough president can’t vote on those bills. The borough president can also <a href="https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2020/03/10/nyc-elections-2020-queens-borough-president-candidates-what-a-borough-president-does">award proclamations</a> to people he or she feels are notable and can convene task forces to discuss issues facing the borough, issue reports and policy recommendations, and advocate.</p> <p>And that is perhaps the most important power of the borough president, albeit an abstract one: the bully pulpit. The borough president is supposed to be the borough’s strongest advocate, representative, and cheerleader, a champion for diverse communities and for the borough as a whole. They are the link between the local districts and boards and the centralized City Hall and City Council, between their borough and the mayor and governor. A proactive borough president can influence major decisions.</p> <p>Brooklyn, like the rest of the city, is continuing to struggle with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and faces a long road to recovery. It is home to communities that have been disproportionately affected by the crisis, a result of long-standing inequities that stem from structural socio-economic disparities. There are also the perennial issues that are pertinent to all or most of the five boroughs including the lack of affordable housing, the future of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), large-scale rezonings, criminal justice, transit infrastructure, coastal resiliency, and more.</p> <p>More specific to Brooklyn, these and other issues manifest in terms of challenges like addressing coastal resiliency in the south of the borough, deciding how to rebuild or reinvent the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the revival of Coney Island’s tourist economy, environmental justice in northern Brooklyn, education equity and safety from hate crimes in the large Orthodox Jewish communities, the plan to build a new downtown jail as part of the closure of the Rikers Island complex, gun violence, poverty, and a lack of health care in parts of central Brooklyn, housing and displacement in gentrifying areas, and much more.</p> <p>Though there are 14 candidates running to be the next Brooklyn Borough President, the top tier — as determined by candidates’ public profiles, political experience, endorsements, fundraising, campaign activity, and more — consists of six: State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, City Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr., City Council Member Antonio Reynoso, City Council Member Mathieu Eugene, nonprofit executive Kimberly Council, and former Brookdale Hospital executive Khari Edwards. The other candidates include Robert Elstein, Pearlene Fields, Anthony Jones, Shanduke McPhatter, Robert Ramos, Jr., Trisha Ocona, and Lamor Miller-Whitehead.</p> <p>******<br />Gotham Gazette spoke with five of those leading candidates running for Brooklyn borough president, while Eugene did not respond to multiple inquiries. Highlights from those interviews and other key information about the six leading candidates are below, followed by, on page two of this article, information about the other candidates in the running for Brooklyn Borough President.</p> <p><strong>Robert Cornegy, Jr.</strong><br />Robert Cornegy, Jr., a two-term Democrat in office since 2014, represents Council District 36, which includes the neighborhoods of Bedford Stuyvesant and Northern Crown Heights.</p> <p>In the Council, Cornegy chaired the Committee on Small Business in his first term and now heads the Committee on Housing and Buildings. He championed several initiatives and bills to support small businesses including the Chamber On-the-Go mobile business support program and a bill to penalize landlords who harass commercial tenants. He also successfully sponsored a bill that requires the city health department to provide lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers at government agencies and offices where many New Yorkers get services.</p> <p>Among his more prominent achievements is the Kalief Browder law, which mandates that any person detained or incarcerated at Rikers for more than 10 days should receive the necessary vocational, educational, and health care services they need. He’s also been a proponent of expanding gifted and talented programs in elementary schools.</p> <p>Cornegy touts his experience in the Council as key to being successful as the next borough president, particularly his leadership on small business and housing issues. “I believe that those are the actual pillars by which recovery and resiliency will take place not only in the city, but also in the borough of Brooklyn, which to me drives the city,” he said in an interview.</p> <p>As with most candidates, Cornegy wants to pursue a new approach to land use and development, focused on creating truly affordable housing. “The three components to affordability in this borough are going to be the ability to access and utilize the powers in land use and zoning, but also the almost $100 million annually of capital funding that help reshape every corner of the borough,” he said.</p> <p>He wants to strike a balance in how development occurs in the borough, seeming to criticize both as-of-right market development and the major city-led rezonings aimed at encouraging new housing, including a portion that is rent-restricted. “The private-public partnership is what's really going to get us to affordability in this borough,” he said. “We've seen, when it’s driven by the private sector, abuses that are far too many to document. And we've also seen inequities when it's been led solely by the public sector,” he said.</p> <p>Cornegy did promise that before his term is up in the City Council, he would “reshape” ULURP to make the process more inclusive for communities on the ground, though he did not specify the legislative changes he would propose to do so. “I intend to do that as a legacy project before I leave the City Council,” he said.</p> <p>Among the ways that the Council is already considering changes to how the city pursues the larger context of housing development, rezonings, and all sorts of borough and local needs is comprehensive planning legislation championed by Council Speaker Corey Johnson and originally proposed by Council Members Brad Lander and Antonio Reynoso, another contender for Brooklyn borough president. Cornegy did say he supports “portions” of the bill, but could not say specifically which parts of it he opposed.</p> <p>But Cornegy repeatedly emphasized the need to ensure greater community input in rezonings. “It’s really important for us to look at rezonings and make sure they don't favor one demographic over another, and to make sure to give community viability and input in every single project. That's where communities have taken exception, not to the process in and of itself,” he said.</p> <p>That dynamic also played out in the city’s plan to build a borough-based jail in every borough except Staten Island, to replace Rikers Island, which is slated to close in 2026. Cornegy voted for the plan in the Council and takes pride in playing a role in the closure of Rikers.</p> <p>(In terms of changes to how the city does development, there is also a Council bill, pushed by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, to mandate a racial impact study as part of all rezoning proposals, but Cornegy did not mention it.)</p> <p>On the power of making appointments to community boards, which play an advisory role in land use at the hyperlocal level and where new term limits start being implemented next year, after a charter change was approved by voters in 2017 with the goal of seeing more turnover and diversity, Cornegy said he supports term limits but worries about completely replacing current members from the boards.</p> <p>“There are people who have institutional knowledge who we don't want to throw out. You don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater,” he said. “However, there should be a healthy mix of past, present and future community residents on these boards…Yes, we want fresh blood and fresh eyes but getting rid of tremendous institutional knowledge in the process is not the best thing ever.” (Community board term limits will be implemented on a staggered schedule and members can reapply to boards after being off for one two-year term.)</p> <p>Asked how he would ensure that community boards don’t become roadblocks to local projects like busways and bike lanes, as happens fairly often, Cornegy said there is no “blanket” approach. “Every community has their needs, and they're able to articulate those needs,” he said.</p> <p>As with most candidates, he expressed reservations about the NYCHA rescue plan being pursued by the de Blasio administration to raise funds for the struggling public housing authority and renovate and rebuild its many developments. On one portion of the plan, often called infill development as it would allow the lease of unused or underused NYCHA land to private developers to build housing, including or at times fully rent-restricted housing, Cornegy expressed opposition. “So in its current form, I'm not thrilled with that,” he said, “because of the concerns that I have around keeping those employees and labor members who have been a part of NYCHA, and those families who've lived in NYCHA.”</p> <p>Cornegy has been a clear supporter of charter schools and believes the state cap on their growth in the city should be lifted. “As a parent of six, I think it's important to give pathways for all children to be successful,” he said, noting that three of his children attend charters. “I think that there are solid arguments for raising the charter school cap,” he added.</p> <p>As borough president, Cornegy also said he would pursue a “comprehensive transportation plan” for the entire borough, assessing which communities need dedicated busways, which ones need protected bike lanes, and such. “A real robust program that can be driven actually, by the borough president's office, that incorporates the use of public transportation, protected bike lanes, and access to the waterways, is what's going to be necessary to get this entire borough moving,” he said.</p> <p>Cornegy’s campaign hasn’t been without controversy. <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2021/2/17/22288694/robert-cornegy-office-complaint">The City reported in February</a> on a complaint filed by a former Cornegy staff member alleging that he used official resources and staff for his campaign. Then in March, The City also <a href="https://www.thecity.nyc/2021/3/3/22312615/brooklyn-councilmember-robert-cornegy-called-nypd-on-constituent-in-sign-standoff-complaint-alleges">reported</a> on a verbal scuffle between Cornegy’s staff and a constituent.</p> <p>Still, Cornegy is seen as among the frontrunners in the race. He had about $493,000 in cash on hand as of the last campaign finance filing from March 15 (Due to a filing error, the CFB's database incorrectly showed he had more than $1 million). He has also received several prominent endorsements including from State Senators Diane Savino and Roxanne Persaud, Assemblymembers William Colton, Jaime Williams, and Erik Dilan, and City Council Members Chaim Deutsch, Alan Maisel, Laurie Cumbo, and Darma Diaz. He even has the backing of director Spike Lee and comedian Tracy Morgan.</p> <p><strong>Jo Anne Simon</strong><br />Since 2015, Simon has represented State Assembly District 52, which covers Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Gowanus, and parts of Park Slope. A lawyer by training, she previously ran a disability civil rights practice and is also an adjunct assistant professor of law at Fordham University.</p> <p>Before her time in office, Simon built her reputation as a community activist opposing large scale developments in the borough including Atlantic Yards and the closure and sale of Long Island College Hospital (LICH). That second project led her to introduce and pass through the Assembly a bill called the Local Input in Community Healthcare (LICH) Act, to ensure that the state health department cannot close hospitals without assessing the community’s health care needs. The bill has stalled in the State Senate.</p> <p>Simon has generally been anti-development over the course of her activism and elected career, even speaking up against the recently scrapped Industry City rezoning and the proposed Gowanus rezoning. She previously served as President of the Boerum Hill Association, chaired its committees on traffic and transportation, land use, and Atlantic Yards. She also chaired the Gowanus Community Stakeholder Group and Gowanus Expressway Community Coalition. In 2004, she was elected female District Leader and State Committeewoman for the 52nd Assembly District, and would go on to win the Assembly seat.</p> <p>“I am running because I am really tired of issues being categorized as women's issues and therefore being given less credence and less value,” she said in an interview. “It's time, I think, for some ‘good trouble,’ as Congressman [John] Lewis used to say. Women's issues are small business issues, they’re education issues, they’re health issues, they’re immigration issues, they’re environmental and economic and social justice issues. And it's time for women's leadership in Brooklyn.” As Simon noted, she would be the first woman ever to serve as Brooklyn Borough President.</p> <p>Simon said the borough president’s office is only limited by the way its holder uses it. “The real power is in the ability to lead by convening, by coalition building, and by a strategic use of capital funding, for example, to help shape and support issues that are consistent with policy,” she said.</p> <p>As with Cornegy, Simon wants to see changes to the ULURP process, though she said it should happen through an amendment to the city charter. “My approach to land use would be very different from what is currently in the charter,” she said. “[W]hat we have right now under ULURP isn't working really well for anybody, and nobody involved with that process is particularly enamored of it. What we really need is sort of smart, responsible and community driven development.” It was a veiled critique of the top-down approach employed by the de Blasio administration, which has often seen rezonings delayed or even derailed because of community opposition. More often than not, communities feel they have not been heard and several communities have even attempted neighborhood-led rezonings to meet their demands. “The ULURP process does not really involve the community. It was designed to make it look like it involved the community, but it doesn't actually involve them. So that sets up the community to be unhappy because somebody else came in with an idea and he's trying to sell it to them,” she said.</p> <p>The comprehensive planning legislation before the City Council ostensibly seeks to fix that issue by giving communities a greater voice. But Simon disagrees with the legislation as it stands. “I think we need comprehensive planning,” she said, “My concern about the speaker's approach at this juncture, without some modifications, is that it still ends up putting the development community in the driver's seat.”</p> <p>Besides giving communities more power, she also wants developers to give them more resources. “We need to find a way that developers when they develop, that they put in some money that goes to public services,” she said. “We need water and sewer, we need to build out our broadband seriously... That's infrastructure, right? We should be putting money into a pot to build schools where we need the schools.”</p> <p>But that wasn’t her only critique of the major neighborhood rezonings pursued by de Blasio, most of which have been focused on low-income communities of color. They come with the threat of accelerating gentrification and mass permanent displacement, she said, without adequate planning for community benefit. “The problem with these big rezonings is that everything's up for grabs in other words,” she said.</p> <p>A central concern for Simon is environmental justice, which&nbsp; runs through issues of land use, public health, transit and waterfront infrastructure. “To the extent that the borough president has a role in ULURP...in any kind of proposal, what is the impact on climate and climate justice?...That's the North Star there. And so everything then has to point in that direction,” she said, promising to strategically use capital funds to ensure all new projects are climate resilient.</p> <p>Though Simon may not be able to affect the borough-based jails plan, she nonetheless opposes it, insisting that the “critical flaw” was that the city did not place a facility in each borough. More facilities would have meant a more spread out jail population footprint and smaller facilities, she said. “I came out against that particular proposal, ultimately, even though I had wanted very much to be able to support it,” she said. “And so I think it could be improved significantly...I don't know what another administration would do to modify that.”</p> <p>Simon also promised to provide more resources to community boards to strengthen their ability to weigh in on land use matters “because we're asking people to evaluate incredibly complicated projects, beyond their area of expertise, and we're not giving them any help.”</p> <p>She believes NYCHA infill development is misguided. “You may have what looks like a lot of room. But the reality is, you'd have to build too close to the existing buildings and it would just be awful,” she said. “And it also just engendered a lot of fear and distrust in the part of the residents and I think that was unnecessary.”</p> <p>She is opposed to raising the charter school cap. “It’s a legislative decision as opposed to a borough president’s,” she said. She is supportive of building more dedicated busways and protected bike lanes, she said.</p> <p>Simon’s bid has been endorsed by several fellow elected officials and political clubs including State Senator Andrew Gounardes, Assemblymember Robert Carroll, former State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, 504 Democratic Club, former Assemblymember Joan Millman, Union of Arab Women of NYC, the Bay Ridge Democrats, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, Brooklyn Young Democrats, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn and Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats. She is in second place in fundraising and had over $727,000 in campaign cash as of March 15, but her filings also show an outstanding loan of $125,000, which Simon lent to the campaign.</p> <p><strong>Khari Edwards</strong><br />Khari Edwards was the vice president of external affairs at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center for more than seven years, where he was the first person of color to hold the position, according to his website. In this role, he worked with various community-based organizations to make the hospital a fixture of the local community, his site says.</p> <p>Before working at the hospital, Edwards served as <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/khari-edwards-0928196/">a special advisor to the Democratic leader</a> of the New York State Senate for nearly four years and as the regional representative for the Office of the New York State Executive Chamber for about two years, per his LinkedIn page.</p> <p>Edwards’ main four borough president campaign issues, according to his website, are housing and homelessness, healthcare, small businesses, and opportunities for youth.</p> <p>His main goal when it comes to housing is to ensure the creation of more units for families, meaning three to four bedroom apartments, which would benefit families that have children or extended family members living with them.</p> <p>“My first piece of legislation is any new city-funded development should be three or four bedrooms,” he told Gotham Gazette in a phone interview. “We haven’t built three and four bedrooms since, I think, 2006. I tell the story all the time that my wife and I, my three children, and my 85-year-old dad, we had a fire in our home, and while we were waiting to move back into our house, we couldn’t find a place that all of us could stay together.”</p> <p>For NYCHA, Edwards said he is not supportive of the federal <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/nycha/downloads/pdf/rad-fact-sheet.pdf">Rental Assistance Demonstration program</a> that encourages private management of public housing and the city is utilizing and expanding, and that more of the money that’s going to the public housing authority should be used to renovate existing properties and eliminate issues such as lead and mold inside the apartments.</p> <p>“I believe that public housing should remain public. It is the last frontier for affordability. I do think that, however, NYCHA needs to be fully renovated, fully invested in,” Edwards said, though he did not say where he believed the money should come from.</p> <p>Additionally on housing, Edwards wants to change how Area Median Income is determined and used for setting housing affordability thresholds.</p> <p>Edwards proposes using the AMI of each individual ZIP code, and then only approving affordable housing development projects if they include housing for people who make 50% of the ZIP code’s AMI.</p> <p>When it comes to the land use review process, ULURP, Edwards said that he believes it should become more community-based.</p> <p>“What I want to do is put the power back into the community’s hands and to make sure that our community boards have a vote in ULURP,” Edwards said, offering a major proposed change to how land use decisions are made given that community boards, like borough presidents, are currently in an advisory capacity.</p> <p>Edwards also wants to create a screening process to ensure that members of community boards are diverse and reflective of the district they serve. The screening committee would be made up of stakeholders — community members, churches, teachers and business owners — who would interview the candidates to help him make appointments.</p> <p>And he plans to promote community board meetings through newly-created marketing teams, as well as making sure those meetings are recorded and posted online for those who cannot attend in person.</p> <p>Edwards also wants each community board to set aside two positions for members 18 years old and younger and two positions for people ages 19-25.</p> <p>Other opportunities Edwards wants to provide for youth in the borough, according to his campaign website, are creating a youth job and internship portal and covering the costs of community-based organizations housed in city school buildings, like after-school programs.</p> <p>Edwards said he does not support raising the cap on charter schools. “I feel that charter schools, even though they’ve played their role, have really kind of decimated our public school system and I feel that charter schools have the ability to pay for their own space, but right now, with COVID...I don’t feel that all charter schools have our students’ best interests at hand,”&nbsp; he said.</p> <p>In terms of small business, his campaign website states that Edwards will use the borough president’s nonprofit fund to provide relief to small businesses and will create incentives to and a portal for businesses to collaborate with one another.</p> <p>Edwards has been endorsed by the large and influential DC 37 labor union as well as Brooklyn City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel and Assemblymember Nick Perry. As of the mid-March campaign finance filing he had raised a total of $673,204 in public and private funds.</p> <p><strong>Antonio Reynoso</strong><br />Reynoso, also a term-limited Democrat, represents City Council District 34, which includes parts of Bushwick, Ridgewood, and Williamsburg. Through his two terms in office, he has chaired the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, while he has focused on those issues, environmental justice, police accountability, and transit.</p> <p>Reynoso is framing himself as the progressive champion in the race and pitched his campaign for borough president in deeply personal terms. “I'm a son of two immigrant parents that got here with very little money,” he said in an interview. “Whether it was welfare, Section 8, food stamps, Medicaid, you name it, if there was a government aid that existed, my family had to take advantage of it just to give us a fair shot at life. So I knew from a very young age what government can do for people in need. And I want to make sure that I can pay that forward.”</p> <p>Reynoso wants to be the borough’s cheerleader, evoking the popular former Borough President Marty Markowitz, who was Adams’ predecessor. “Brooklyn gave me everything and Brooklyn is my home. I love it dearly. I want to bring a little bit of the Marty Markowitz back,” he said. But it’s not just the best bagels or pizza in town that he wants to promote. “I also want to make Brooklyn the model for progressive politics and progressive policy,” he said.</p> <p>Reynoso acknowledges the limited charter-mandated responsibilities of the office, with the focus on community board appointments and land use recommendations. “I think the strongest and most important responsibility is the bully pulpit,” he said. “You are representing Brooklyn, the largest county in the country, and you're representing an area that is larger than some states in some cases and definitely larger than most cities in itself.”</p> <p>At the top of his list for using capital dollars is creating more health equity across the borough, particularly for Black women who have historically suffered worse health outcomes. “I'm looking to outfit every single public hospital in Brooklyn with a state of the art birthing center,” Reynoso said. “I really want to start talking about Black women's health during childbirth. I think it's one of the most significant gross inequities that exist in our city, but definitely in Brooklyn.”</p> <p>As one of the original sponsors of comprehensive planning legislation that has been introduced in the City Council, Reynoso has long been a critic of the city’s current land use and development processes. The problem he sees is that the city looks at blocs of development rather than borough-wide needs, imposes rezonings rather than soliciting community input on their demands.</p> <p>“We could spread this burden of building housing in the city,” he said. “The comprehensive planning idea here is to allow for every community board to send us information about where they think potential development can occur, and then encouraging the city to build more equitably, as opposed to just cramming all their housing in these poor Black and brown neighborhoods,” he said. The legislation, championed by Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is running for Comptroller, has had one Council hearing and is among the major proposals that could be passed before the end of the term this year.</p> <p>Reynoso wants to expand the land use and planning expertise in the borough president’s office to provide technical assistance to community boards.</p> <p>The lack of comprehensive planning is also why Reynoso believes the rezonings pursued by the de Blasio administration in places like East New York are flawed, though he did reserve some judgement. “It's hard to determine whether a rezoning is good or bad in short order...The outcomes I guess dictate whether or not it was a good rezoning. So the jury's still out on these,” he said.</p> <p>“The rezonings are a product of a flawed process and a flawed process is going to have a flawed outcome,” he said. “So I think we need to start rethinking about how we're doing rezonings, rethinking the process. And until then, I can't necessarily say that I think any of these rezonings are beneficial to communities.” Last year, Reynoso was the leading elected official urging the administration to study a community-led rezoning plan for Bushwick, in his district, instead of an administration-led proposal. The rezoning was ultimately put on hold after the two sides could not come to an agreement on the scale and scope of the rezoning.</p> <p>Another failure of city government is that the administration tends to promise large-scale community investments only when proposing major neighborhood rezonings. “Why is it that we need a rezoning before they can start dealing with our sewer lines? Why is it that we need a rezoning before we can get transportation options or MTA stations or housing development?” Reynoso said. “There's just so many things that the city should be taking care of independent of rezonings.”</p> <p>He extended the argument to borough-based jails as well, calling them “a result of a flawed process,” though he does not regret voting in favor of the plan.</p> <p>“It's very hard to say that you want to build more humane jails, because jails in themselves are inhumane,” he said, explaining his conflict about the jails plan. “It's hard to make it independent,” he said of closing Rikers and not building new jails, “but we closed Rikers. That's what we set out to do. I am very happy and very proud of the vote. It was tough. It was a tough vote, but we closed Rikers...These new jails, there's still opportunities to have conversations about exactly what we want them to look like.”</p> <p>As borough president, Reynoso said he would be deliberate about diversifying community boards “with perspectives, with professions, with ethnicities and race, religion, age, income.” He also wants to ensure they do not prevent beneficial projects that he supports. “I don't want any community boards to be like the first stop of NIMBYism,” he said, referring to the oft-used community board philosophy of “not in my back yard.”</p> <p>He was direct about his opposition to the NYCHA infill development as it’s currently taking place, with mixed-income projects being pursued by the city. He insisted that private for-profit developers should not benefit from public land and should particularly not get an opportunity to build more market-rate housing there. “100% affordable housing done by not-for-profits is the way to go,” he said. “We need more affordable housing. Anything less than that is a big problem for me.”</p> <p>He went further, saying the infill program should be put on hold until a new administration comes to power.&nbsp; “I don't think that we should be having this conversation under this current mayor and his current leadership, because they just don't manage well,” he said. “And I think that this new election is going to be a mandate to do something different, and it not be this business as usual.”</p> <p>Reynoso is opposed to raising the charter school cap. “The issue that I have is that there's a double standard when it comes to these charter schools. There are things that are accepted there that are not accepted in public schools.”</p> <p>Reynoso, who has been a long-time proponent of public transit and of bike-riding in the city, supports building more dedicated busways and protected bike lanes. “Yes, 100%,” he said when asked about expanding both.</p> <p>Having championed successful legislation to create commercial waste zones across the city that will cut down on truck traffic and limit the over-saturation of low-income communities of color with waste stations, Reynoso said the approach to infrastructure, particularly climate resiliency, needs to be boroughwide, not based in individual communities along the waterfront. “Right now, every single community along the waterfront is having their own individual fight for resiliency up and down along the coast…What we should have is one coordinated effort where the city goes to the federal government and asks for funding for the entire coast of Brooklyn,” he said. “That is not what happens right now. When we don't coordinate our work together, the inequities start existing. The people who have more money or more political capital, end up getting more resources than the people that don't have that. And I don't want that to be the case.”</p> <p>“For me, it’s not so much about necessarily where you land on policy, because I don’t think many of us are going to be too far away on too many issues,” he said of the many candidates in the race. “It comes down to who do you think can deliver.”</p> <p>Reynoso has been endorsed by a ‘who’s who’ of progressive organizations and elected officials including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, former gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, fellow City Council Members Brad Lander, Margaret Chin, and Helen Rosenthal, State Senators Jessica Ramos and Julia Salazar, Assemblymembers Marcela Mitaynes and Maritza Davila, the Working Families Party, Make the Road Action, and the New Kings Democrats. As of March 15, Reynoso’s campaign had about $618,000 in cash on hand.</p> <p><strong>Kimberly Council</strong><br />Kimberly Council <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimberly-council-76159a1/">has worked for roughly two decades</a> as an associate minister at Historic Berean Baptist Church and as a senior reference librarian at Sullivan &amp; Cromwell LLP, a New York City-based international law firm. She has also run for several elected offices in recent years, including City Council and State Assembly.</p> <p>Council is running for borough president in part based on her lived experience of being raised in a publicly-subsidized home with her parents and four siblings, and dealing with food insecurity and poverty. She highlights her membership in the NAACP, Church Women United, and the National Council of Negro Women, and as the former president of the Law Librarian Association of Greater New York.</p> <p>Council’s top campaign issues are affordable housing and health care, but her website provides issue stances for an array of other topics as well.</p> <p>When it comes to housing and land use, Council said that the overarching goal is to make dealings more transparent and community-involved. “Typically by the time it gets to the community level, it’s already been through several different areas and we want to make sure that the community is involved in the project from the beginning and that the developer solicits their input as they’re developing the project,” she said in reference to the ULURP process and development proposals.</p> <p>She told Gotham Gazette in an interview that she would demand that 60% of all new housing projects that come to her for input as borough president be affordable at a lower, more localized <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/services-and-information/area-median-income.page">Area Median Income (AMI</a>).</p> <p>Additionally, Council’s borough president campaign website says that she plans to “Ensure that all proposed zoning changes consider educational infrastructure, healthcare infrastructure, impact on first responders, access to transit, impact on utility service, and environmental sustainability in the scope.”</p> <p>On the related topic of community boards, Council said that she wants the boards to be more diverse and to actually be representative of their communities. She also said that she feels communication is the key to ensuring that community boards work on behalf of their constituents.</p> <p>For NYCHA, the candidate said that she supports legislation by Reps. Nydia Velázquez’s and Yvette Clarke, both New York City Democrats, that would put more money into the housing authority, but she also wants to use the bully pulpit to push the mayor and governor to invest more money into NYCHA. By doing so, she said, the city would be able to ensure public housing facilities are environmentally sound and would be creating jobs around the developments.</p> <p>“We want to make sure that we are investing not just in the projects but in the people that live in those projects,” she said.</p> <p>When it comes to the closing of the Rikers Island jail complex, Council said that she is in favor of a community-based jails plan, but emphasized that community input needs to be taken into consideration when developing the plan (the city’s plan already went through the ULURP process and passed the City Council).</p> <p>“This will be something that you will see throughout every answer is that we want community input,” she said. “I want the community’s input in what it is that we’re going to do, don’t want this to be something where we come in and dictate, ‘This is what’s gonna’ happen,’ but that we have them involved in the process from the very beginning.”</p> <p>Council’s education plan is based on her experience as “a member of the White House Community Leader Briefing Series, where she advised high level Obama Administration officials on educational policy,” she says. According to her campaign website, she will fight for increased baseline funding from the city and state to hire more teaching assistants, librarians, nurses, and social workers.</p> <p>On the subject of charter schools, Council told Gotham Gazette that she does not support raising the state-imposed cap on charter schools that prevents new charter schools from being created in the city.</p> <p>Another component of her campaign is transit infrastructure, specifically to add more bus stops and lines, more ferry stops, and more protected bike lanes throughout the borough.</p> <p>She would like to see more stops added to the city’s <a href="https://www.ferry.nyc/routes-and-schedules/">five current ferry lines</a>, especially in south Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Coney Island and Mill Basin. A Coney Island ferry line is <a href="https://www.ferry.nyc/routes-and-schedules/route/coney-island-route/">already planned for a 2021 opening</a>, which will have a start/end point in Coney Island, a stop in Bay Ridge, and start/end at Pier 11 in Manhattan.</p> <p>Council said that while she would push to expand the number of bike lanes, she would also make sure that all bike lanes, both old and new, are clearly marked.</p> <p>She also plans on creating a “Mobile Borough Hall,” which would consist of social services that can be brought into communities so that they don’t have to go to the physical Borough Hall building for help.</p> <p>“I want to make Borough Hall a one-stop-shop for small businesses, for people in the community, for social services, for everything that everybody needs,” Council said. “They should know that they can come to Borough Hall to have their issues dealt with.”</p> <p>Council had raised about $84,000 as of the March campaign finance filing.</p> <p><strong>Mathieu Eugene</strong><br />Mathieu Eugene is the term-limited City Council member for the 40th District, which includes the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Park South, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.</p> <p>He has held this position since 2007, when he won in a special election, making him the first-ever Haitian-American elected to the New York City Council. Eugene chairs the Council’s Committee on Civil and Human Rights and previously chaired the Committee on Youth Services.</p> <p>Gotham Gazette was unable to find a borough president campaign website for Eugene, and he did not respond to multiple requests for an interview for this article. Eugene has been sending fundraising solicitations to his supporters by email, though his fundraising has been lackluster, and he has appeared at some candidate forums, but he does not appear to be campaigning aggressively.</p> <p>As of the March campaign finance filing, Eugene had raised about $54,000.</p> <p>*****<br />While the candidates discussed above are the apparent top six contenders for the position, there are still six other candidates vying for the role of Brooklyn Borough President.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10347-crowded-brooklyn-borough-president-field-takes-shape" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Go to page two of this article</a> to read about the remaining candidates and their backgrounds, past accomplishments, issue stances, and plans for the borough. <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10347-crowded-brooklyn-borough-president-field-takes-shape" target="_blank" rel="noopener">READ MORE.</a></p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid &amp; Amanda Salazar</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p> </p> <p>Note - this article has been updated to reflect accurate campaign fundraising numbers for Robert Cornegy. He has about $493,000 in cash on hand, not more than $1 million as previously stated.</p>
Crowded Brooklyn Borough President Field Takes Shape 2021-04-06T04:00:00+00:00 2021-04-06T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10347-crowded-brooklyn-borough-president-field-takes-shape Samar Khurshid & Amanda Salazar samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/april/4x1-mashup-edit.jpg" alt="4x1 mashup edit" width="600" height="247" /></p> <p>(l-r) Robert Cornegy Jr, Jo Anne Simon, Antonio Reynoso, Khari Edwards</p> <hr /> <p><em>This is page two of this article about the 2021 Brooklyn Borough President Democratic primary. <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10339-competitive-brooklyn-borough-president-race-democratic-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The first page</a> included six other candidates in the race: Robert Cornegy, Jo Anne Simon, Antonio Reynoso, Khari Edwards, Kim Council, and Mathieu Eugene. <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10339-competitive-brooklyn-borough-president-race-democratic-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Read page one here.</a></em></p> <p>*****</p> <p><strong>Robert Elstein</strong><br />Robert Elstein is an English and theater teacher at the New York City Department of Education’s Edward R. Murrow High School in Midwood, where he has taught for more than 15 years. Elstein also describes himself as “an artist, a poet, a theater person, a fun dad &amp; a keen political observer,” on his Brooklyn borough president campaign website.</p> <p>He is also the founder of the community clean-up effort Beautify Brooklyn. This grassroots effort relies on <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CKCqy09s4SP/">volunteers to help pick up trash in various neighborhoods</a> in Brooklyn, both at organized group events and in volunteers’ spare time.</p> <p>“I’m here to change things by bringing the people together, by creating Community Boards that reflect the community, by advocating for a Green New Deal for NYC, by developing the Reimagined Schools and Safety Commission and the Brooklyn Neighborhood Business Council, by bringing art to every block and helping to make Brooklyn the greatest community in the world to live and work,” Elstein’s campaign website reads in part.</p> <p>Elstein’s campaign focuses on five key topics, his site says: education, development, community, humanity, and intellectual and arts capital.</p> <p>When it comes to education, his primary goal is to end mayoral control of New York City public schools and to disband the Panel for Educational Policy. The city’s schools would instead be overseen by Local Education Panels run by communities.</p> <p>“In 19 years of mayoral control of schools our students have only fallen farther behind their counterparts in other districts,” it says on the “Issues” page of his campaign website, though it’s unclear what metrics he is using. “In fact, our student’s progression was second worst of all major cities (except Cleveland) in that time despite a new generation of data obsessed Principals and administrators who have had no problem tearing apart wonderful school communities and programs in the interest in slight gains in test scores.”</p> <p>Under mayoral control, Elstein wrote, schools have seen massive overcrowding and racial segregation, both of which are due, in part, to the way zoning is done.</p> <p>With local school panels, the idea is that teachers, parents, students, and community members can be directly involved in decision-making on school leadership and curriculum.</p> <p>Elstein also wants to create a Reimagined Schools and Safety Commission “to find ways for educators, members of the community, and, yes, law enforcement officers, to work together on our common goals.”</p> <p>He also wants to increase the number of psychologists and social workers in schools, increase access to affordable after-school programs, expand vocational education, and put more emphasis on teaching the arts.</p> <p>On development, Elstein touches on banning “dirty real estate” and carbon negative construction, as well as creating a neighborhood beautification network, relating to his Beautify Brooklyn Campaign.</p> <p>“I am the founder of Beautify Brooklyn, an organization that unites Brooklynites of all generations and backgrounds in the common interest of cleaning up our streets and strengthening the bonds between neighbors in the process. Our events occur all over Brooklyn and we encourage our volunteers to explore new neighborhoods, interact with new people and hopefully make new friends. Lots of kids get involved, too,” Elstein’s campaign website states. “We are doing this because our politicians have somehow failed to realize that the trash is piling up in the gutters, on the corners, in discarded shopping carts, in front of vacant storefronts and construction sites and overflowing from uncovered city trash cans. But my volunteers and I have it under control.”</p> <p>His “community” theme includes the bullet points of: “reimagine policing, resist gentrification, empower entrepreneurs, create new affordable housing laws, reform universal land use review process and restore mental health.”</p> <p>“In regard to our community security, we need to diversify the NYPD, divert funding from militarization and toward community affairs,” the website reads in part. “We need to stop rewarding officers for arresting people, investigate and prosecute hate crimes, animal cruelty and stop guns from materializing on our streets! We need to stop the iron pipeline of guns trafficked illegally into our state.”</p> <p>On “humanity,” Elstein’s site discusses developing a New York City climate change plan, a Cruelty Free City plan, and an Activate Kindness plan.</p> <p>The Cruelty Free City plan focuses on animal cruelty in Brooklyn, calling for an immediate ban on the sale of fur, cockfighting, dogfighting and live anmial markets. The plan also includes supporting animal shelters and adoptions, as well as promoting veganism.</p> <p>Elstein’s final campaign value, intellectual and arts capital, includes creating a Borough Hall Mentorship Center and a Borough Hall Immigrant Empowerment Network and strengthening public libraries and schools.</p> <p>“New ideas are what we need and we [need] new initiatives to bring us together. We need new approaches to solving our problems,” his campaign website reads. “The actions our elected officials have been neglectful of our needs for far too long and have proven they will continue to neglect.”</p> <p><strong>Pearlene Fields</strong><br />Pearlene Fields has worked in business administration for 20 years at different non-profit organizations, such as at the <a href="https://www.jdrf.org">Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation</a>, or JDRF, where she was a grants administrator.</p> <p>She also worked at the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, or UNICEF, as a program assistant and at the United Nations Secretariat Department of Peace Operations Office of Military Affairs as a member of the Chief of Staff’s front office.</p> <p>Fields’ campaign for borough president centers around her vision for affordable housing, public safety, small businesses and entrepreneurship, and education.</p> <p>Being that she personally dealt with housing insecurity in the past, Fields has housing as a core issue in her campaign, with several ideas.</p> <p>Regarding NYCHA, Fields says she wants to better ensure its housing is not falling into disrepair in the first place. She also wants to help public housing developments become more self-sufficient by creating grocery stores and other services — including “psychological assistance, learn about money management, property management, small business, and information on trade skills to improve job prospects”&nbsp; — in the complexes, so that more jobs for residents can be created and residents can have easy access to the things they need.</p> <p>On homelessness, Fields’ site says she wants to “Create more programs that address the homeless situation and provide mental health services, gainful employment, and permanent homes to get our neighbors out of shelters and off city streets.”</p> <p>On public safety, Fields wants to take a number of actions, including demilitarizing the NYPD by ending the 1033 program that provides military-grade equipment to the police, abolishing qualified immunity, hiring more officers in internal affairs, and requiring that body cameras be on at all times while officers are on duty.</p> <p>Fields wants to require all new recruits to the NYPD to have to earn at least an associate degree in criminal justice and to pass an exam in order to be licensed to serve and will have to renew their licenses every four years at the community board of the community they work in. Officers would have to carry their own version of a doctor’s malpractice insurance and would have to be on the force for two years before being given their guns.</p> <p>“Today, Black and Brown people fear for their lives at the sight of the police. Corruption has gotten so out of control that George Floyd, Brionna Taylor, Eric Garner and so many more have been murdered without any real consequences for the officers,” her campaign website states. “When it comes to the police, we need to get rid of the bad, keep the good, and retrain those who remain so the relationship between the public and the police can begin to heal and we create a brand-new meaning of ‘protect and serve.’”</p> <p>Fields also wants the NYPD to better track and make public officers’ disciplinary histories, increase salaries for police officers who aren’t fired due to bad behavior, and offer more mental health services to officers.</p> <p>For business and entrepreneurship, Fields wants to create a program with the Department of Labor that would allow gig workers to apply for unemployment and set up an emergency fund to position gig workers to get paid to help during natural disasters, plus provide quicker access to emergency funds during crises. She would also support an emergency bailout fund for small businesses.</p> <p>To create jobs, Fields wants the city to sell more bonds for a major capital program including hiring contractors to make sure that NYCHA buildings are all environmentally sustainable and use clean energy, upgrading the sewer system and water mains to reduce flooding, repairing and upgrading street signs and lights and, finally, upgrading puch school buildings to also be environmentally sustainable and use clean energy.</p> <p>On education, Fields says she wants to remove NYPD officers from schools, get rid of common core standards, raise teacher salaries, advocate for increased funding, enhance vocational training and life skills classes in schools to show students that college isn’t their only option, and offer S.T.E.A.M. classes in all schools.</p> <p>“I am running for Brooklyn Borough President in order to empower people to use their voice, to give power to the powerless, to get justice when there is none, and to bring hope to communities that are often abused, impoverished, or overlooked,” Fields’ campaign website reads. “Our community is very diverse and the small businesses throughout them help us thrive and it is about time we go back to embracing our differences, finding balance between cultures, and rebuilding bridges between the community and the people responsible for patrolling them.”</p> <p><strong>Anthony Jones</strong><br />Anthony Jones is a Democratic state committee person in Assembly District 55, which includes the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brownsville, Weeksville, Ocean Hill, and parts of Bedford Stuyvesant. In this role, Jones says he has worked to help employ about 150 poll inspectors for each election cycle.</p> <p>Jones is focusing his campaign on the borough’s comeback from the pandemic, according to his website.</p> <p>To this end, Jones wants to encourage increased job opportunities for youth, creating and rebuilding small businesses, and enhancing food banks and encouraging them to provide healthy options for food insecure Brooklynites.</p> <p>Jones says he wants to take on gentrification and to lower property taxes for both homeowners and businesses, though on these issues and others his website has few details.</p> <p><strong>Shanduke McPhatter</strong><br />Shanduke McPhatter is a community activist, responsible for founding Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Change, or GMACC, an organization that works to help people “caught up in street life” to create better futures for themselves and their communities. The organization works with people in and around gangs, gun violence, drugs, and incarceration, according to the GMACC website.</p> <p>Gotham Gazette was unable to find a borough president campaign website for McPhatter, who does have a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Shanduke-McPhatter-For-Brooklyn-Borough-President-2021-104845204785470/about">Facebook page</a> for his campaign, however, which promotes his <a href="https://www.nycvotes.org/campaigns/shandukemcphatter/contributions/new?fbclid=IwAR3egzpBK77sjmnJAx_Q0G0E1f8cTfYzZwRU_Y1dO_7c7kZHqkk4B7KBDVk">campaign fundraising page</a> on the New York City Votes website.</p> <p>“This campaign is inspired by the passion and desire to cultivate a unified and safer Brooklyn,” the Facebook page, called “Shanduke McPhatter For Brooklyn Borough President 2021,” reads in the “About Me” section.</p> <p><strong>Robert Ramos, Jr.</strong><br />Robert Ramos, Jr. is an educator and labor activist who has lived in Brooklyn his whole life and attended New York City public schools and the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College, where he majored in education and a chairperson of the CUNY University Student Senate and as such a member of the CUNY Board of Trustees. He is a teacher at Breukelen Day Care.</p> <p>Ramos’ bid to be borough president is focused on environmental justice, education, social justice, and housing and homelessness.</p> <p>His website says he wants Brooklyn to become a more sustainable borough, through increasing clean energy usage and farming, among other strategies.</p> <p>Ramos wants to expand grants and other incentives to homeowners to install solar panels, a strategy he also wants to bring to NYCHA.</p> <p>Additionally, Ramos wants vertical farming to become a larger part of the borough to produce healthy, locally-grown fresh produce, specifically in areas of the borough that are (healthy) food deserts.</p> <p>“Education is a right,” Ramos’ campaign website states. “All students must receive a high quality education through all levels of their education.” He pledges to push for further expansion of public pre-school and more funding for early childhood education through 12th grade as well as CUNY.</p> <p>He wants to work to end the school-to-prison pipeline and wants the members of the NYPD oversight Civilian Complaint Review Board to be elected, not appointed.</p> <p>For housing, Ramos wants to expand community land trusts to help more residents become homeowners, to abolish the tax lien sale of homes that disproportionately affects people of color, to create more affordable housing using the area median income of neighborhoods to set thresholds, and to extend the eviction moratorium.</p> <p><strong>Lamor Miller Whitehead</strong><br />Lamor Miller Whitehead is a bishop at Leaders of Tomorrow International Churches, a licensed New York State Chaplain, and a certified marriage and funeral officiant. He was ordained as a minister in 2006 and later ordained as a pastor and a bishop in 2014.</p> <p>Miller Whitehead’s campaign website has an “Initiatives” page, but it doesn’t explain his issues stances on any subject, as the hyperlinks on the page don’t work.</p> <p>The key issues his campaign is focusing on are COVID-19, criminal justice reform, education, community development and low- and moderate-income housing.</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid &amp; Amanda Salazar</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p> </p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/april/4x1-mashup-edit.jpg" alt="4x1 mashup edit" width="600" height="247" /></p> <p>(l-r) Robert Cornegy Jr, Jo Anne Simon, Antonio Reynoso, Khari Edwards</p> <hr /> <p><em>This is page two of this article about the 2021 Brooklyn Borough President Democratic primary. <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10339-competitive-brooklyn-borough-president-race-democratic-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The first page</a> included six other candidates in the race: Robert Cornegy, Jo Anne Simon, Antonio Reynoso, Khari Edwards, Kim Council, and Mathieu Eugene. <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10339-competitive-brooklyn-borough-president-race-democratic-primary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Read page one here.</a></em></p> <p>*****</p> <p><strong>Robert Elstein</strong><br />Robert Elstein is an English and theater teacher at the New York City Department of Education’s Edward R. Murrow High School in Midwood, where he has taught for more than 15 years. Elstein also describes himself as “an artist, a poet, a theater person, a fun dad &amp; a keen political observer,” on his Brooklyn borough president campaign website.</p> <p>He is also the founder of the community clean-up effort Beautify Brooklyn. This grassroots effort relies on <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CKCqy09s4SP/">volunteers to help pick up trash in various neighborhoods</a> in Brooklyn, both at organized group events and in volunteers’ spare time.</p> <p>“I’m here to change things by bringing the people together, by creating Community Boards that reflect the community, by advocating for a Green New Deal for NYC, by developing the Reimagined Schools and Safety Commission and the Brooklyn Neighborhood Business Council, by bringing art to every block and helping to make Brooklyn the greatest community in the world to live and work,” Elstein’s campaign website reads in part.</p> <p>Elstein’s campaign focuses on five key topics, his site says: education, development, community, humanity, and intellectual and arts capital.</p> <p>When it comes to education, his primary goal is to end mayoral control of New York City public schools and to disband the Panel for Educational Policy. The city’s schools would instead be overseen by Local Education Panels run by communities.</p> <p>“In 19 years of mayoral control of schools our students have only fallen farther behind their counterparts in other districts,” it says on the “Issues” page of his campaign website, though it’s unclear what metrics he is using. “In fact, our student’s progression was second worst of all major cities (except Cleveland) in that time despite a new generation of data obsessed Principals and administrators who have had no problem tearing apart wonderful school communities and programs in the interest in slight gains in test scores.”</p> <p>Under mayoral control, Elstein wrote, schools have seen massive overcrowding and racial segregation, both of which are due, in part, to the way zoning is done.</p> <p>With local school panels, the idea is that teachers, parents, students, and community members can be directly involved in decision-making on school leadership and curriculum.</p> <p>Elstein also wants to create a Reimagined Schools and Safety Commission “to find ways for educators, members of the community, and, yes, law enforcement officers, to work together on our common goals.”</p> <p>He also wants to increase the number of psychologists and social workers in schools, increase access to affordable after-school programs, expand vocational education, and put more emphasis on teaching the arts.</p> <p>On development, Elstein touches on banning “dirty real estate” and carbon negative construction, as well as creating a neighborhood beautification network, relating to his Beautify Brooklyn Campaign.</p> <p>“I am the founder of Beautify Brooklyn, an organization that unites Brooklynites of all generations and backgrounds in the common interest of cleaning up our streets and strengthening the bonds between neighbors in the process. Our events occur all over Brooklyn and we encourage our volunteers to explore new neighborhoods, interact with new people and hopefully make new friends. Lots of kids get involved, too,” Elstein’s campaign website states. “We are doing this because our politicians have somehow failed to realize that the trash is piling up in the gutters, on the corners, in discarded shopping carts, in front of vacant storefronts and construction sites and overflowing from uncovered city trash cans. But my volunteers and I have it under control.”</p> <p>His “community” theme includes the bullet points of: “reimagine policing, resist gentrification, empower entrepreneurs, create new affordable housing laws, reform universal land use review process and restore mental health.”</p> <p>“In regard to our community security, we need to diversify the NYPD, divert funding from militarization and toward community affairs,” the website reads in part. “We need to stop rewarding officers for arresting people, investigate and prosecute hate crimes, animal cruelty and stop guns from materializing on our streets! We need to stop the iron pipeline of guns trafficked illegally into our state.”</p> <p>On “humanity,” Elstein’s site discusses developing a New York City climate change plan, a Cruelty Free City plan, and an Activate Kindness plan.</p> <p>The Cruelty Free City plan focuses on animal cruelty in Brooklyn, calling for an immediate ban on the sale of fur, cockfighting, dogfighting and live anmial markets. The plan also includes supporting animal shelters and adoptions, as well as promoting veganism.</p> <p>Elstein’s final campaign value, intellectual and arts capital, includes creating a Borough Hall Mentorship Center and a Borough Hall Immigrant Empowerment Network and strengthening public libraries and schools.</p> <p>“New ideas are what we need and we [need] new initiatives to bring us together. We need new approaches to solving our problems,” his campaign website reads. “The actions our elected officials have been neglectful of our needs for far too long and have proven they will continue to neglect.”</p> <p><strong>Pearlene Fields</strong><br />Pearlene Fields has worked in business administration for 20 years at different non-profit organizations, such as at the <a href="https://www.jdrf.org">Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation</a>, or JDRF, where she was a grants administrator.</p> <p>She also worked at the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, or UNICEF, as a program assistant and at the United Nations Secretariat Department of Peace Operations Office of Military Affairs as a member of the Chief of Staff’s front office.</p> <p>Fields’ campaign for borough president centers around her vision for affordable housing, public safety, small businesses and entrepreneurship, and education.</p> <p>Being that she personally dealt with housing insecurity in the past, Fields has housing as a core issue in her campaign, with several ideas.</p> <p>Regarding NYCHA, Fields says she wants to better ensure its housing is not falling into disrepair in the first place. She also wants to help public housing developments become more self-sufficient by creating grocery stores and other services — including “psychological assistance, learn about money management, property management, small business, and information on trade skills to improve job prospects”&nbsp; — in the complexes, so that more jobs for residents can be created and residents can have easy access to the things they need.</p> <p>On homelessness, Fields’ site says she wants to “Create more programs that address the homeless situation and provide mental health services, gainful employment, and permanent homes to get our neighbors out of shelters and off city streets.”</p> <p>On public safety, Fields wants to take a number of actions, including demilitarizing the NYPD by ending the 1033 program that provides military-grade equipment to the police, abolishing qualified immunity, hiring more officers in internal affairs, and requiring that body cameras be on at all times while officers are on duty.</p> <p>Fields wants to require all new recruits to the NYPD to have to earn at least an associate degree in criminal justice and to pass an exam in order to be licensed to serve and will have to renew their licenses every four years at the community board of the community they work in. Officers would have to carry their own version of a doctor’s malpractice insurance and would have to be on the force for two years before being given their guns.</p> <p>“Today, Black and Brown people fear for their lives at the sight of the police. Corruption has gotten so out of control that George Floyd, Brionna Taylor, Eric Garner and so many more have been murdered without any real consequences for the officers,” her campaign website states. “When it comes to the police, we need to get rid of the bad, keep the good, and retrain those who remain so the relationship between the public and the police can begin to heal and we create a brand-new meaning of ‘protect and serve.’”</p> <p>Fields also wants the NYPD to better track and make public officers’ disciplinary histories, increase salaries for police officers who aren’t fired due to bad behavior, and offer more mental health services to officers.</p> <p>For business and entrepreneurship, Fields wants to create a program with the Department of Labor that would allow gig workers to apply for unemployment and set up an emergency fund to position gig workers to get paid to help during natural disasters, plus provide quicker access to emergency funds during crises. She would also support an emergency bailout fund for small businesses.</p> <p>To create jobs, Fields wants the city to sell more bonds for a major capital program including hiring contractors to make sure that NYCHA buildings are all environmentally sustainable and use clean energy, upgrading the sewer system and water mains to reduce flooding, repairing and upgrading street signs and lights and, finally, upgrading puch school buildings to also be environmentally sustainable and use clean energy.</p> <p>On education, Fields says she wants to remove NYPD officers from schools, get rid of common core standards, raise teacher salaries, advocate for increased funding, enhance vocational training and life skills classes in schools to show students that college isn’t their only option, and offer S.T.E.A.M. classes in all schools.</p> <p>“I am running for Brooklyn Borough President in order to empower people to use their voice, to give power to the powerless, to get justice when there is none, and to bring hope to communities that are often abused, impoverished, or overlooked,” Fields’ campaign website reads. “Our community is very diverse and the small businesses throughout them help us thrive and it is about time we go back to embracing our differences, finding balance between cultures, and rebuilding bridges between the community and the people responsible for patrolling them.”</p> <p><strong>Anthony Jones</strong><br />Anthony Jones is a Democratic state committee person in Assembly District 55, which includes the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brownsville, Weeksville, Ocean Hill, and parts of Bedford Stuyvesant. In this role, Jones says he has worked to help employ about 150 poll inspectors for each election cycle.</p> <p>Jones is focusing his campaign on the borough’s comeback from the pandemic, according to his website.</p> <p>To this end, Jones wants to encourage increased job opportunities for youth, creating and rebuilding small businesses, and enhancing food banks and encouraging them to provide healthy options for food insecure Brooklynites.</p> <p>Jones says he wants to take on gentrification and to lower property taxes for both homeowners and businesses, though on these issues and others his website has few details.</p> <p><strong>Shanduke McPhatter</strong><br />Shanduke McPhatter is a community activist, responsible for founding Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Change, or GMACC, an organization that works to help people “caught up in street life” to create better futures for themselves and their communities. The organization works with people in and around gangs, gun violence, drugs, and incarceration, according to the GMACC website.</p> <p>Gotham Gazette was unable to find a borough president campaign website for McPhatter, who does have a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Shanduke-McPhatter-For-Brooklyn-Borough-President-2021-104845204785470/about">Facebook page</a> for his campaign, however, which promotes his <a href="https://www.nycvotes.org/campaigns/shandukemcphatter/contributions/new?fbclid=IwAR3egzpBK77sjmnJAx_Q0G0E1f8cTfYzZwRU_Y1dO_7c7kZHqkk4B7KBDVk">campaign fundraising page</a> on the New York City Votes website.</p> <p>“This campaign is inspired by the passion and desire to cultivate a unified and safer Brooklyn,” the Facebook page, called “Shanduke McPhatter For Brooklyn Borough President 2021,” reads in the “About Me” section.</p> <p><strong>Robert Ramos, Jr.</strong><br />Robert Ramos, Jr. is an educator and labor activist who has lived in Brooklyn his whole life and attended New York City public schools and the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College, where he majored in education and a chairperson of the CUNY University Student Senate and as such a member of the CUNY Board of Trustees. He is a teacher at Breukelen Day Care.</p> <p>Ramos’ bid to be borough president is focused on environmental justice, education, social justice, and housing and homelessness.</p> <p>His website says he wants Brooklyn to become a more sustainable borough, through increasing clean energy usage and farming, among other strategies.</p> <p>Ramos wants to expand grants and other incentives to homeowners to install solar panels, a strategy he also wants to bring to NYCHA.</p> <p>Additionally, Ramos wants vertical farming to become a larger part of the borough to produce healthy, locally-grown fresh produce, specifically in areas of the borough that are (healthy) food deserts.</p> <p>“Education is a right,” Ramos’ campaign website states. “All students must receive a high quality education through all levels of their education.” He pledges to push for further expansion of public pre-school and more funding for early childhood education through 12th grade as well as CUNY.</p> <p>He wants to work to end the school-to-prison pipeline and wants the members of the NYPD oversight Civilian Complaint Review Board to be elected, not appointed.</p> <p>For housing, Ramos wants to expand community land trusts to help more residents become homeowners, to abolish the tax lien sale of homes that disproportionately affects people of color, to create more affordable housing using the area median income of neighborhoods to set thresholds, and to extend the eviction moratorium.</p> <p><strong>Lamor Miller Whitehead</strong><br />Lamor Miller Whitehead is a bishop at Leaders of Tomorrow International Churches, a licensed New York State Chaplain, and a certified marriage and funeral officiant. He was ordained as a minister in 2006 and later ordained as a pastor and a bishop in 2014.</p> <p>Miller Whitehead’s campaign website has an “Initiatives” page, but it doesn’t explain his issues stances on any subject, as the hyperlinks on the page don’t work.</p> <p>The key issues his campaign is focusing on are COVID-19, criminal justice reform, education, community development and low- and moderate-income housing.</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid &amp; Amanda Salazar</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p> </p>
Dianne Morales Lays Out Initial Policy Vision for Progressive Mayoral Campaign 2021-04-05T04:00:00+00:00 2021-04-05T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10286-dianne-morales-policy-vision-progressive-campaign-nyc-mayor Grace Getman ggetman@gg.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/dianne-morales-ca.png" alt="dianne morales" width="600" height="596" /></p> <p>Dianne Morales (photo via campaign)</p> <hr /> <p>Promising a “platform for radically shaping our future through policies centered around dignity, care and solidarity,” Dianne Morales is widely considered among the top eight Democratic mayoral candidates in this year’s race to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio.</p> <p>Morales’ professional background is in nonprofit work and education. For the past decade before leaving the position to run for mayor, she worked as CEO and Executive Director of Phipps Neighborhoods, a Bronx social services organization. Describing herself as a “a learner, a survivor and a working single mother of two trying to do her best,” Morales has sought to gain attention in the crowded 2021 field with her emphasis on centering “the needs of those disproportionately underserved” through the elimination of barriers and of oppressive systems.</p> <p>Of the top eight Democratic candidates as judged by public attention, fundraising, and polling, Morales is running the campaign furthest to the left, with her view of where New York City needs to go under the next mayor in part influenced by the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and all it has wrought and further exposed about racial, ethnic, and economic inequality in the city.</p> <p>During many candidate forums and individual interviews, Morales, who is Afro-Latina of Puerto-Rican descent, regularly argues that New York City needs nothing less than a complete overhaul, whereby marginalized communities are finally empowered, and that effort needs to be led from City Hall. This extends throughout housing, policing, education, and other topics where the mayor is responsible for setting policy and executing laws and mandates from all three levels of government.</p> <p>Morales is a first-time candidate for any office who said of pursuing the mayoralty was a “go big or go home” moment, that to effect the kind of change she thinks the city needs, she could only put her executive and lived experiences to work running to become the city’s top government official.</p> <p>Much of what Morales’ supporters appear to be responding to is both the candidate’s passion in describing the deep problems facing so many New Yorkers and her framework for what the future should look like, the kind of approach she would bring to City Hall if elected the city’s first woman, first Latino, and second person of color to be mayor.</p> <p>She is pitching voters on a major defunding of the NYPD, on making CUNY once again tuition-free, allowing voting in municipal elections regardless of citizenship status, free municipal broadband and advocating for the public takeover of utilities, among other signature policy plans to establish a “care economy” and “city where all people can live in dignity.”</p> <p>With under three months until primary day, June 22, Morales has recently fleshed out, to an extent, a number of policy principles and published outlines of her plans on a number of key issues. But her campaign website offers only sketches, at most, on many issues. Like some of the other leading candidates, Morales has not published detailed policy plans, opting for outlines that can offer key insights into what she plans to do if elected mayor but leave a lot of questions on how and when the goals would be achieved, what they might cost, and where the funding might come from.</p> <p>Morales has not, for example, outlined how she would approach balancing the city budget or addressing NYCHA’s $40 billion in capital needs beyond saying she would pursue tax increases on the wealthy at the state level and massive federal funding for public housing. Morales turned a lot of heads when she said she would defund the NYPD by $3 billion, but did not immediately offer any details for how and what the plan to do so would look like, only offering some additional aspects of her thinking when pushed in interviews and forums.</p> <p>Morales’ policy platform is organized under three principles — dignity, care, and solidarity — under which she organizes her various platform sketches. On her website, there is a link to her “100 Days Dignity Now Platform,” and links to 15 topics of her “intersectional agenda.” As of April 4, one third of the links to those 15 topics on her campaign website platform page led to pages only saying “Coming soon.” Those pages include “Small Business and Cooperative Economy,” “Wealth Tax,” and “Green Jobs, Green Food, Green Justice.” Some of the issues that do have policy plans, like “Defund the Police; Fund the People,” offer brief bulleted lists.</p> <p>But Morales has released outlines of her policy priorities on an array of topics such as gender equity, healthcare, education, housing and land use, and immigration that help, along with the many stances she has taken at candidate forums and in interviews, provide a sense of her vision for the city. Most of her sketches are bullet-pointed sentences that are given little explanation, but contain statements of principle and brief promises, altogether making a platform that has been attracting large numbers of volunteers and donors and a campaign surprising many close watchers of the race.</p> <p>The issues she lists and solutions she offers connect toward “undoing normalized policies that destroy opportunity and reduce the quality of life for millions of New Yorkers,” the platform page says. “Dianne Morales, however, knows that our city is used to extracting from communities their art, labor and even their bondage, without acknowledging their human rights. While not exhaustive, the following outlines her intersectional agenda built upon dignity, care and solidarity.” Here are some highlights:</p> <p><strong>100 Days Framework</strong><br />Morales touts her ‘Dignity Now’ platform to accomplish within her first 100 days as mayor, a mix of specific and vague promises. On the vague side, she commits to “[a]dvocate for basic income relief,” “[p]rovide mental health and grief support services,” and “ensure language justice.” She also commits to a citywide rent moratorium, though it isn’t clear what power she has to enact such an edict or where the funding would come from to make landlords whole. (It’s also unclear what the city’s situation will be come January 1, 2022 when the next mayor takes office. A massive rent relief allotment was included in the recently-passed federal American Rescue Plan.)</p> <p>Morales pledges to issue an executive order on educational equity, in order to “desegregate schools, eliminate disparities and hold agencies accountable for inequitable educational outcomes.” She will also create a COVID-19 Equity &amp; Data Response Unit and release NYC 5000, a health navigator program to “connect uninsured, housing unsecured, and other vulnerable populations to COVID-19 education, testing and vaccines.”&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Health Care</strong><br />In order to confront what she calls “our city’s generational indifference to shrinking the gap in accessible healthcare and addressing the inequities that reduce the quality of life within communities,” Morales is offering a wide-ranging health-care platform.</p> <p>In addition, a Morales administration would provide greater protections for domestic workers and access to healthcare for undocumented residents, though specifics are not offered. Morales says she would work to provide more financial support and career training opportunities for primary caregivers. She promises “universal access” to doulas and midwives, in addition to physicians, nurses, and prenatal care for expectant mothers.</p> <p>She would also push to create paid sick leave, maternity leave, and family leave for gig workers and independent contractors, but does not identify through which government mechanisms. A Morales administration would create a citywide “network of integrated community health clinics” for preventative primary care, as well as “access to affordable and quality” child care, disability and long-term care, elder care, home care, and early childhood education. Morales would provide further support to the CUNY School of Medicine and the Center for Health Equity and Community Wellness, which is part of the city Health Department that seeks to “use a racial and social justice approach to eliminate health inequities for those most marginalized in New York City.”</p> <p><strong>Housing &amp; Land Use</strong><br />A Morales administration would “declare housing a right,” and focus its efforts on ending homelessness, reforming NYCHA, and providing “public oversight and democratic control” to community planning and development. In a February interview on the Max &amp; Murphy podcast, Morales said on affordable housing, “I think we need to go to deeper affordability. One of the flaws of the de Blasio plan is that it relied too heavily on developers whose priority is ultimately the bottom line.”</p> <p>She has said she would dedicate city housing subsidy dollars toward that deeper affordability, pledged a focus on “social housing” and to fund efforts like community land trusts.</p> <p>To end homelessness, Morales would convert hotels into housing and places to provide services for “families of our 100,000 unhoused school-aged youth.” Morales would appoint a deputy mayor responsible for “a citywide, cross-sector effort addressing housing, opportunity and social mobility.” In the same February Max &amp; Murphy interview she said that her administration would make sure that “we’re moving people to permanent housing, not creating this industry…where we’re spending so much money and people don’t feel safe and people don’t want to be in shelters anyway.”</p> <p>This deputy mayor would be responsible for seeing the shift of $3 billion from the shelter budget into preventative efforts. Morales would “repurpose” the city’s Economic Development Corporation to disrupt “poverty from a root cause lens” and prioritize the development of social housing, cooperative housing, and affordable housing.&nbsp;</p> <p>For renters, Morales says she would streamline applications, ban criminal checks, “fight housing court evictions” by funding Right to Counsel services and advocating for the state-level Good Cause Eviction Act, and support the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase.</p> <p>A Morales administration would seek a New York City where “our communities have livable neighborhoods and that the City has a vested interest in the well-being of our people over profit and luxury developments.” To that end, Morales as mayor would “[r]adically reimagine and re-center the Universal Land Use Review Process,” “[c]reate a data-informed, community-centered Comprehensive City Plan” and build more open spaces, particularly in “park-starved” neighborhoods.</p> <p>This redistributional energy would also manifest itself in a Housing &amp; Reparations Taskforce, which would identify “affirmative policies and programs” for communities negatively impacted by “discriminatory and predatory” practices.&nbsp;</p> <p>On zoning, Morales wrote that she would work towards “a fairshare frame, ensuring equity goals and making sure that marginalized communities are brought to the table beyond the Community Board.” On the Max &amp; Murphy show she said that “The zoning process and conversation in and of itself needs to be restructured from top to bottom. Zoning and rezoning should really be driven by communities…giving them a leading voice at the table.” During that same interview, she said that she would want to move away from the practice of deference to City Council members about rezonings in their districts, saying, “we all have to put some skin in the game.”</p> <p>She would support a moratorium on all luxury rezonings and developments, ban the City from selling or leasing city-owned land to private developers and end tax breaks for developers and “[r]equire Department of City Planning to provide staffing support with planners and lawyers to local community boards during any rezoning planning process.”</p> <p>Morales said city housing subsidies need to be targeted to provide deeper affordability and that she would create a city land bank to “acquire and repurpose distressed property,” pursue social housing and “[p]urchase vacant apartments, hotels, commercial and office spaces facing foreclosures to turn them into housing.” Social housing is rental housing that may be owned and managed by the city or non-profit organizations.</p> <p>She would advocate for the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA), implement a citywide Basement Apartment Safe for Everyone (BASE) to “legalize and protect basement apartments” and “work alongside Albany” to end the much-derided 421-a tax break. COPA, sponsored by Carlina Rivera, the Councilwoman of Manhattan’s 2nd district, would give nonprofits a right of first refusal on property. The state 421-a tax break seeks to reward developers who create affordable housing in the most expensive areas of the city, which critics have labelled as ineffective.</p> <p>Morales would also support the use of “Racial Impact Studies” to obtain “real data around how rezonings will affect gentrification and displacement, especially in low-income communities.” A bill to add Racial Impact Studies was introduced to the City Council by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in 2019.</p> <p>While Morales has provided few specifics on how she would carry out her housing and land use vision, with no cost estimates or timelines, it is another area she is promising sweeping change. She said on the Max &amp; Murphy podcast in February that housing would be an area she aims to make “a big difference in the first year” in shifting resources.</p> <p>Morales would appoint a NYCHA resident to be the chair of the public housing’s Board, to appoint a NYCHA Board with a majority of NYCHA residents, and to “Pilot a resident management corporation (RMC) in a NYCHA complex in each borough.” Morales would “Prioritize connecting NYCHA residents with career readiness strategies” and “end the criminalization, over-policing and surveillance of NYCHA communities.”</p> <p>Unlike several other candidates, Morales would not use the rental assistance demonstration (RAD) federal voucher program to help alleviate cash-strapped NYCHA’s financial woes. RAD is an Obama-era program that allows private entities to operate public housing buildings. Morales instead would advance “an aggressive state and federal campaign calling for $35 billion in funding from [sic] the authority.”</p> <p>She also pledges to align NYCHA with the federal Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, sponsored and championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx and Queens.</p> <p><strong>Policing and Criminal Justice</strong><br />Writing that “it is imperative that we finally address the root causes of violence and move from the myth that we will police our way to safety,” Morales reiterates her pledge for a $3 billion reallocation from the NYPD’s overall budget, which in sum is over $10 billion annually, including operating, capital, and pension costs. She would also seek cuts to District Attorney budgets.&nbsp;</p> <p>Morales has given limited explanation for how she would cut the $3 billion from the NYPD budget, but has indicated she would not fire officers, instead offering those whose positions she would cut from the force the opportunity to be retrained and deployed in other agencies doing different types of social service work to make investments in her vision for creating greater public safety. During her interview with Max &amp; Murphy, she said that “I don’t think of it as layoffs…we’re just creating jobs that are much more connected to the care economy” and that “we could repurpose and retrain people…we’re not eliminating jobs, we’re just shifting them from one function to another.”</p> <p>Morales would create the Community First Responders Department, which would “act as part of a larger ecosystem to connect New Yorkers with program and services to address their needs.” It would be separate from the NYPD, and would respond to mental health and wellness calls that have been handled by the NYPD in the past.</p> <p>Morales says she would remove the NYPD from the “social services” they currently provide, including as school safety officers, traffic enforcement, drug intervention, and outreach to homeless populations.</p> <p>Morales would also push for full elimination of the use of bail, and “[f]ind City-led ways to begin to eliminate pre-trial detention,” such as calling on district attorneys to vacate and decline to prosecute more offenses. She would also advocate for “reducing the number of people subjected to pretrial detention by 80% immediately.” In addition, Morales says she would push ahead the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex, but not build any new jails (four are planned, three of which would replace existing jails), and end civil asset forfeiture.</p> <p>A Morales administration would “Advance a democratically-elected” Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) as well as “empower” it to discipline officers.</p> <p>To fight crime, Morales would create more “gun-free” zones in partnership with communities, grow the Cure Violence program and “[i]nvest in restorative alternatives to disrupt violence within communities.”</p> <p>In one of her more sweeping promises, Morales would “Decriminalize all drug use, as well as possession of limited amounts. End arrests and violation-level enforcement for drugs and decline to prosecute all drug charges,” though the mayor is not in charge of what district attorneys may prosecute.</p> <p><strong>Education</strong><br />Touting her background as a former New York City public school educator, Morales seeks a “community-centered governance focused on parents, educators and students that has not existed in New York City schools.” She has said she is interested in exploring an end to mayoral control of city schools, replacing it with some kind of new community-based model that she has not offered details on.</p> <p>A Morales administration would put $450 million into “mental health services, student support positions and restorative and transformative practices,” as well as remove NYPD officers from schools. Morales pledges to “fully fund the school capital plan” (about $20 billion over five years, though there’s no indication it is not fully funded) in an effort to reduce class sizes and overcrowding, remove mold, asbestos and lead, and make schools better accessible to students with disabilities.</p> <p>While Morales has called herself a big proponent of school choice, she says she would take or seek several steps to curb charter schools, such as ending their co-location in public school buildings, capping their expansion, preventing the sharing of recruitment data to charter schools without parental consent, and “advocating for the city’s ability” to shut down “non-functioning” charter schools.</p> <p>As mayor, Morales would attempt to diversify teachers in city schools by creating a Peer Educator Summer Program for high-schoolers and offering “applicable CUNY college credits to pursue a career in teaching.”</p> <p><strong>Free CUNY</strong><br />Calling CUNY -- which is funded through tuition and fees and all three branches of government, particularly the state -- “the vehicle to our collective recovery and economic growth,” Morales seeks to “reduce any barrier to higher and continuous learning at CUNY.”</p> <p>A Morales administration would seek to make tuition again free at every CUNY school, provide free or heavily subsidized childcare for CUNY students and increase salaries for CUNY faculty and staff, including the $7,000 per course demanded by the Professional Staff Congress, the union representing faculty in the CUNY system. In addition, she would “provide MetroCards, books and supplies stipends, and further support” for low-income students, “decentralize classes” throughout the city and employ a five-year strategy to recruit a more “culturally diverse trauma-informed workforce, including specialists in mental health, education, social work and the arts.”</p> <p>The big question for Morales’ CUNY plan, as well as other pieces of her platform, is cost.</p> <p>While she declines to provide a cost estimate or a timeline for her wide-reaching program, she attempts to answer the question that may be first on her critics’ minds by listing several potential sources of funding. Among the ways to fund her CUNY program would be the $3 billion she says she would reduce from the NYPD budget; funds through the Invest in New York Act, a package of six tax-increase bills that progressives are attempting to pass through the New York State Legislature; and unspecified cuts by eliminating “waste from our current budget in areas that aren’t serving our communities.”</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10123-decision-nyc-dianne-morales-runs-nyc-mayor-2021">a video interview</a> with Gotham Gazette, Morales said that she’d look to reclaim money dispensed to agencies for city jobs that are still vacant after six months, and to reduce the contracts given to consultants who make studies just to “sit on the shelves.”&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Public Infrastructure</strong><br />Arguing that New York City’s public spaces have been “neglected, seized, politicized and controlled by a privileged few,” Morales says her administration would push for the public takeover of utilities such as electricity and provide free municipal broadband citywide.</p> <p>She would also invest in Fair Share Planning, an idea in the City Charter that has historically been ignored that directs neighborhoods sited for undesirable or burdensome facilities to also receive an environmental benefit.</p> <p>Morales’ emphasis on New Yorkers with disabilities runs throughout her platform. She says she would increase Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance at bus stops, ferry stops, and green spaces, add curb cuts and Accessible Pedestrian Signals across the city, and require all public meetings to have open captions, sign language interpreters, and large-print format.</p> <p>Like many other mayoral candidates, Morales supports the expansion of the pandemic-era Open Restaurants and Open Streets programs.</p> <p><strong>Transportation</strong><br />Morales’ transportation-related proposals include expanding the Fair Fares program to provide free public transportation for all New York City “students and low-income New Yorkers,” taking steps to make the whole public transportation system free for all, and attempting to make the Citi Bike program a free public utility for all city residents.</p> <p>Morales has also said she would like to move toward city control of the subway system.</p> <p>The Morales administration would support the 25x25 Plan, a plan to reduce car usage by 25% by 2025 put together by advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, and backed by over 80 organizations. The 25x25 plan would convert 25% of streetspace into non-car uses by 2025, meter 1/4 of all free parking in the city and add 500 lane miles of new protected bus-only lanes with the space created by the removed car space. She would strip new buildings of parking requirements, instead replacing that requirement with car-share or bike-share spaces instead.</p> <p><strong>Immigration</strong><br />Unlike the majority of the leading 2021 mayoral candidates, Morales has at least an outline of an immigration policy platform. She would expand the New York Immigrant Family Unit project, a public defender program for immigrants facing deportation run by the Vera Institute of Justice, which has been funded by the New York City Council since 2014. Morales would also increase funding to allow for legal services for non-detained immigrants, as well as for “trusted community-based organizations with proven records of providing free and accessible healthcare to immigrants.”</p> <p>Most of Morales’ ideas on immigration in New York City pertain to limiting the power of the NYPD and ICE, the federal immigration enforcement agency. She would prohibit the NYPD from providing aid to ICE or “inviting ICE into the City,” and from “practices that target undocumented workers, including street vendors.” In addition, Morales would ban all city-level agencies from asking about immigration status other than in order to provide “resources and legal services” to undocumented New Yorkers.</p> <p>As mayor, she would also “invest in real language access professional support” and “establish the right to vote in city elections regardless of citizenship,” which would need to be passed through the City Council.</p> <p><strong>Labor Rights</strong><br />A Morales administration would also take on the issue of workers’ rights. Morales says she would protect workers against wage theft, provide “affirmative human rights protections of undocumented, domestic and low-wage workers,” and “prevent citywide work layoffs and create solutions in collaboration with union leadership”</p> <p>She would expand the Freelance Isn’t Free Act and “better enforce protections for independent contractors and freelancers,” trying to ensure those workers are paid and paid on time.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>As mayor, Morales pledges to ban “waivers of workplace rests,” expand just cause workplace protections, and permit qui tam enforcement, lawsuits where whistleblowers sue an organization they know to be committing fraud against the government and reap financial rewards if successful.</p> <p>Morales would provide “aggressive monitoring and enforcement” of pay equity laws and establish a “Pool Benefits Fund” for informal and domestic workers to provide healthcare, among other benefits.</p> <p><strong>Gender Equity</strong><br />A Morales administration would decriminalize sex work and advocate for the rights of sex workers, and expand free abortion and contraception in New York City. In addition, she would entrust NYC’s Health and Human Services, Center for Health Equity, and the Commission for Gender Equity to eliminate “preventable causes” of Black maternal and infant mortality by creating a “multi-agency and community expert task force” to work on the issue.</p> <p>To expand resources for LGBTQ New Yorkers, Morales would “prioritize the funding of trusted healthcare providers,” and mandate diversity and inclusion curriculum in New York City schools, including for teachers and administrators. Morales also pledges to expand housing opportunities and safe spaces.</p> <p>Writing that “New York State must also be a partner with the City of New York,” Morales says she would advocate for the State Legislature to pass the Hate Crimes Analysis and Review Act, which would require the state to release the demographic information of both perpetrators and victims of hate crimes; The Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights, to ensure LGBTQ elderly people are protected from discrimination; and a bill that would “vacate sex trafficking-related convictions from people’s records.”</p> <p>

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by Grace Getman for Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this story.</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/dianne-morales-ca.png" alt="dianne morales" width="600" height="596" /></p> <p>Dianne Morales (photo via campaign)</p> <hr /> <p>Promising a “platform for radically shaping our future through policies centered around dignity, care and solidarity,” Dianne Morales is widely considered among the top eight Democratic mayoral candidates in this year’s race to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio.</p> <p>Morales’ professional background is in nonprofit work and education. For the past decade before leaving the position to run for mayor, she worked as CEO and Executive Director of Phipps Neighborhoods, a Bronx social services organization. Describing herself as a “a learner, a survivor and a working single mother of two trying to do her best,” Morales has sought to gain attention in the crowded 2021 field with her emphasis on centering “the needs of those disproportionately underserved” through the elimination of barriers and of oppressive systems.</p> <p>Of the top eight Democratic candidates as judged by public attention, fundraising, and polling, Morales is running the campaign furthest to the left, with her view of where New York City needs to go under the next mayor in part influenced by the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and all it has wrought and further exposed about racial, ethnic, and economic inequality in the city.</p> <p>During many candidate forums and individual interviews, Morales, who is Afro-Latina of Puerto-Rican descent, regularly argues that New York City needs nothing less than a complete overhaul, whereby marginalized communities are finally empowered, and that effort needs to be led from City Hall. This extends throughout housing, policing, education, and other topics where the mayor is responsible for setting policy and executing laws and mandates from all three levels of government.</p> <p>Morales is a first-time candidate for any office who said of pursuing the mayoralty was a “go big or go home” moment, that to effect the kind of change she thinks the city needs, she could only put her executive and lived experiences to work running to become the city’s top government official.</p> <p>Much of what Morales’ supporters appear to be responding to is both the candidate’s passion in describing the deep problems facing so many New Yorkers and her framework for what the future should look like, the kind of approach she would bring to City Hall if elected the city’s first woman, first Latino, and second person of color to be mayor.</p> <p>She is pitching voters on a major defunding of the NYPD, on making CUNY once again tuition-free, allowing voting in municipal elections regardless of citizenship status, free municipal broadband and advocating for the public takeover of utilities, among other signature policy plans to establish a “care economy” and “city where all people can live in dignity.”</p> <p>With under three months until primary day, June 22, Morales has recently fleshed out, to an extent, a number of policy principles and published outlines of her plans on a number of key issues. But her campaign website offers only sketches, at most, on many issues. Like some of the other leading candidates, Morales has not published detailed policy plans, opting for outlines that can offer key insights into what she plans to do if elected mayor but leave a lot of questions on how and when the goals would be achieved, what they might cost, and where the funding might come from.</p> <p>Morales has not, for example, outlined how she would approach balancing the city budget or addressing NYCHA’s $40 billion in capital needs beyond saying she would pursue tax increases on the wealthy at the state level and massive federal funding for public housing. Morales turned a lot of heads when she said she would defund the NYPD by $3 billion, but did not immediately offer any details for how and what the plan to do so would look like, only offering some additional aspects of her thinking when pushed in interviews and forums.</p> <p>Morales’ policy platform is organized under three principles — dignity, care, and solidarity — under which she organizes her various platform sketches. On her website, there is a link to her “100 Days Dignity Now Platform,” and links to 15 topics of her “intersectional agenda.” As of April 4, one third of the links to those 15 topics on her campaign website platform page led to pages only saying “Coming soon.” Those pages include “Small Business and Cooperative Economy,” “Wealth Tax,” and “Green Jobs, Green Food, Green Justice.” Some of the issues that do have policy plans, like “Defund the Police; Fund the People,” offer brief bulleted lists.</p> <p>But Morales has released outlines of her policy priorities on an array of topics such as gender equity, healthcare, education, housing and land use, and immigration that help, along with the many stances she has taken at candidate forums and in interviews, provide a sense of her vision for the city. Most of her sketches are bullet-pointed sentences that are given little explanation, but contain statements of principle and brief promises, altogether making a platform that has been attracting large numbers of volunteers and donors and a campaign surprising many close watchers of the race.</p> <p>The issues she lists and solutions she offers connect toward “undoing normalized policies that destroy opportunity and reduce the quality of life for millions of New Yorkers,” the platform page says. “Dianne Morales, however, knows that our city is used to extracting from communities their art, labor and even their bondage, without acknowledging their human rights. While not exhaustive, the following outlines her intersectional agenda built upon dignity, care and solidarity.” Here are some highlights:</p> <p><strong>100 Days Framework</strong><br />Morales touts her ‘Dignity Now’ platform to accomplish within her first 100 days as mayor, a mix of specific and vague promises. On the vague side, she commits to “[a]dvocate for basic income relief,” “[p]rovide mental health and grief support services,” and “ensure language justice.” She also commits to a citywide rent moratorium, though it isn’t clear what power she has to enact such an edict or where the funding would come from to make landlords whole. (It’s also unclear what the city’s situation will be come January 1, 2022 when the next mayor takes office. A massive rent relief allotment was included in the recently-passed federal American Rescue Plan.)</p> <p>Morales pledges to issue an executive order on educational equity, in order to “desegregate schools, eliminate disparities and hold agencies accountable for inequitable educational outcomes.” She will also create a COVID-19 Equity &amp; Data Response Unit and release NYC 5000, a health navigator program to “connect uninsured, housing unsecured, and other vulnerable populations to COVID-19 education, testing and vaccines.”&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Health Care</strong><br />In order to confront what she calls “our city’s generational indifference to shrinking the gap in accessible healthcare and addressing the inequities that reduce the quality of life within communities,” Morales is offering a wide-ranging health-care platform.</p> <p>In addition, a Morales administration would provide greater protections for domestic workers and access to healthcare for undocumented residents, though specifics are not offered. Morales says she would work to provide more financial support and career training opportunities for primary caregivers. She promises “universal access” to doulas and midwives, in addition to physicians, nurses, and prenatal care for expectant mothers.</p> <p>She would also push to create paid sick leave, maternity leave, and family leave for gig workers and independent contractors, but does not identify through which government mechanisms. A Morales administration would create a citywide “network of integrated community health clinics” for preventative primary care, as well as “access to affordable and quality” child care, disability and long-term care, elder care, home care, and early childhood education. Morales would provide further support to the CUNY School of Medicine and the Center for Health Equity and Community Wellness, which is part of the city Health Department that seeks to “use a racial and social justice approach to eliminate health inequities for those most marginalized in New York City.”</p> <p><strong>Housing &amp; Land Use</strong><br />A Morales administration would “declare housing a right,” and focus its efforts on ending homelessness, reforming NYCHA, and providing “public oversight and democratic control” to community planning and development. In a February interview on the Max &amp; Murphy podcast, Morales said on affordable housing, “I think we need to go to deeper affordability. One of the flaws of the de Blasio plan is that it relied too heavily on developers whose priority is ultimately the bottom line.”</p> <p>She has said she would dedicate city housing subsidy dollars toward that deeper affordability, pledged a focus on “social housing” and to fund efforts like community land trusts.</p> <p>To end homelessness, Morales would convert hotels into housing and places to provide services for “families of our 100,000 unhoused school-aged youth.” Morales would appoint a deputy mayor responsible for “a citywide, cross-sector effort addressing housing, opportunity and social mobility.” In the same February Max &amp; Murphy interview she said that her administration would make sure that “we’re moving people to permanent housing, not creating this industry…where we’re spending so much money and people don’t feel safe and people don’t want to be in shelters anyway.”</p> <p>This deputy mayor would be responsible for seeing the shift of $3 billion from the shelter budget into preventative efforts. Morales would “repurpose” the city’s Economic Development Corporation to disrupt “poverty from a root cause lens” and prioritize the development of social housing, cooperative housing, and affordable housing.&nbsp;</p> <p>For renters, Morales says she would streamline applications, ban criminal checks, “fight housing court evictions” by funding Right to Counsel services and advocating for the state-level Good Cause Eviction Act, and support the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase.</p> <p>A Morales administration would seek a New York City where “our communities have livable neighborhoods and that the City has a vested interest in the well-being of our people over profit and luxury developments.” To that end, Morales as mayor would “[r]adically reimagine and re-center the Universal Land Use Review Process,” “[c]reate a data-informed, community-centered Comprehensive City Plan” and build more open spaces, particularly in “park-starved” neighborhoods.</p> <p>This redistributional energy would also manifest itself in a Housing &amp; Reparations Taskforce, which would identify “affirmative policies and programs” for communities negatively impacted by “discriminatory and predatory” practices.&nbsp;</p> <p>On zoning, Morales wrote that she would work towards “a fairshare frame, ensuring equity goals and making sure that marginalized communities are brought to the table beyond the Community Board.” On the Max &amp; Murphy show she said that “The zoning process and conversation in and of itself needs to be restructured from top to bottom. Zoning and rezoning should really be driven by communities…giving them a leading voice at the table.” During that same interview, she said that she would want to move away from the practice of deference to City Council members about rezonings in their districts, saying, “we all have to put some skin in the game.”</p> <p>She would support a moratorium on all luxury rezonings and developments, ban the City from selling or leasing city-owned land to private developers and end tax breaks for developers and “[r]equire Department of City Planning to provide staffing support with planners and lawyers to local community boards during any rezoning planning process.”</p> <p>Morales said city housing subsidies need to be targeted to provide deeper affordability and that she would create a city land bank to “acquire and repurpose distressed property,” pursue social housing and “[p]urchase vacant apartments, hotels, commercial and office spaces facing foreclosures to turn them into housing.” Social housing is rental housing that may be owned and managed by the city or non-profit organizations.</p> <p>She would advocate for the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA), implement a citywide Basement Apartment Safe for Everyone (BASE) to “legalize and protect basement apartments” and “work alongside Albany” to end the much-derided 421-a tax break. COPA, sponsored by Carlina Rivera, the Councilwoman of Manhattan’s 2nd district, would give nonprofits a right of first refusal on property. The state 421-a tax break seeks to reward developers who create affordable housing in the most expensive areas of the city, which critics have labelled as ineffective.</p> <p>Morales would also support the use of “Racial Impact Studies” to obtain “real data around how rezonings will affect gentrification and displacement, especially in low-income communities.” A bill to add Racial Impact Studies was introduced to the City Council by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in 2019.</p> <p>While Morales has provided few specifics on how she would carry out her housing and land use vision, with no cost estimates or timelines, it is another area she is promising sweeping change. She said on the Max &amp; Murphy podcast in February that housing would be an area she aims to make “a big difference in the first year” in shifting resources.</p> <p>Morales would appoint a NYCHA resident to be the chair of the public housing’s Board, to appoint a NYCHA Board with a majority of NYCHA residents, and to “Pilot a resident management corporation (RMC) in a NYCHA complex in each borough.” Morales would “Prioritize connecting NYCHA residents with career readiness strategies” and “end the criminalization, over-policing and surveillance of NYCHA communities.”</p> <p>Unlike several other candidates, Morales would not use the rental assistance demonstration (RAD) federal voucher program to help alleviate cash-strapped NYCHA’s financial woes. RAD is an Obama-era program that allows private entities to operate public housing buildings. Morales instead would advance “an aggressive state and federal campaign calling for $35 billion in funding from [sic] the authority.”</p> <p>She also pledges to align NYCHA with the federal Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, sponsored and championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx and Queens.</p> <p><strong>Policing and Criminal Justice</strong><br />Writing that “it is imperative that we finally address the root causes of violence and move from the myth that we will police our way to safety,” Morales reiterates her pledge for a $3 billion reallocation from the NYPD’s overall budget, which in sum is over $10 billion annually, including operating, capital, and pension costs. She would also seek cuts to District Attorney budgets.&nbsp;</p> <p>Morales has given limited explanation for how she would cut the $3 billion from the NYPD budget, but has indicated she would not fire officers, instead offering those whose positions she would cut from the force the opportunity to be retrained and deployed in other agencies doing different types of social service work to make investments in her vision for creating greater public safety. During her interview with Max &amp; Murphy, she said that “I don’t think of it as layoffs…we’re just creating jobs that are much more connected to the care economy” and that “we could repurpose and retrain people…we’re not eliminating jobs, we’re just shifting them from one function to another.”</p> <p>Morales would create the Community First Responders Department, which would “act as part of a larger ecosystem to connect New Yorkers with program and services to address their needs.” It would be separate from the NYPD, and would respond to mental health and wellness calls that have been handled by the NYPD in the past.</p> <p>Morales says she would remove the NYPD from the “social services” they currently provide, including as school safety officers, traffic enforcement, drug intervention, and outreach to homeless populations.</p> <p>Morales would also push for full elimination of the use of bail, and “[f]ind City-led ways to begin to eliminate pre-trial detention,” such as calling on district attorneys to vacate and decline to prosecute more offenses. She would also advocate for “reducing the number of people subjected to pretrial detention by 80% immediately.” In addition, Morales says she would push ahead the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex, but not build any new jails (four are planned, three of which would replace existing jails), and end civil asset forfeiture.</p> <p>A Morales administration would “Advance a democratically-elected” Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) as well as “empower” it to discipline officers.</p> <p>To fight crime, Morales would create more “gun-free” zones in partnership with communities, grow the Cure Violence program and “[i]nvest in restorative alternatives to disrupt violence within communities.”</p> <p>In one of her more sweeping promises, Morales would “Decriminalize all drug use, as well as possession of limited amounts. End arrests and violation-level enforcement for drugs and decline to prosecute all drug charges,” though the mayor is not in charge of what district attorneys may prosecute.</p> <p><strong>Education</strong><br />Touting her background as a former New York City public school educator, Morales seeks a “community-centered governance focused on parents, educators and students that has not existed in New York City schools.” She has said she is interested in exploring an end to mayoral control of city schools, replacing it with some kind of new community-based model that she has not offered details on.</p> <p>A Morales administration would put $450 million into “mental health services, student support positions and restorative and transformative practices,” as well as remove NYPD officers from schools. Morales pledges to “fully fund the school capital plan” (about $20 billion over five years, though there’s no indication it is not fully funded) in an effort to reduce class sizes and overcrowding, remove mold, asbestos and lead, and make schools better accessible to students with disabilities.</p> <p>While Morales has called herself a big proponent of school choice, she says she would take or seek several steps to curb charter schools, such as ending their co-location in public school buildings, capping their expansion, preventing the sharing of recruitment data to charter schools without parental consent, and “advocating for the city’s ability” to shut down “non-functioning” charter schools.</p> <p>As mayor, Morales would attempt to diversify teachers in city schools by creating a Peer Educator Summer Program for high-schoolers and offering “applicable CUNY college credits to pursue a career in teaching.”</p> <p><strong>Free CUNY</strong><br />Calling CUNY -- which is funded through tuition and fees and all three branches of government, particularly the state -- “the vehicle to our collective recovery and economic growth,” Morales seeks to “reduce any barrier to higher and continuous learning at CUNY.”</p> <p>A Morales administration would seek to make tuition again free at every CUNY school, provide free or heavily subsidized childcare for CUNY students and increase salaries for CUNY faculty and staff, including the $7,000 per course demanded by the Professional Staff Congress, the union representing faculty in the CUNY system. In addition, she would “provide MetroCards, books and supplies stipends, and further support” for low-income students, “decentralize classes” throughout the city and employ a five-year strategy to recruit a more “culturally diverse trauma-informed workforce, including specialists in mental health, education, social work and the arts.”</p> <p>The big question for Morales’ CUNY plan, as well as other pieces of her platform, is cost.</p> <p>While she declines to provide a cost estimate or a timeline for her wide-reaching program, she attempts to answer the question that may be first on her critics’ minds by listing several potential sources of funding. Among the ways to fund her CUNY program would be the $3 billion she says she would reduce from the NYPD budget; funds through the Invest in New York Act, a package of six tax-increase bills that progressives are attempting to pass through the New York State Legislature; and unspecified cuts by eliminating “waste from our current budget in areas that aren’t serving our communities.”</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10123-decision-nyc-dianne-morales-runs-nyc-mayor-2021">a video interview</a> with Gotham Gazette, Morales said that she’d look to reclaim money dispensed to agencies for city jobs that are still vacant after six months, and to reduce the contracts given to consultants who make studies just to “sit on the shelves.”&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Public Infrastructure</strong><br />Arguing that New York City’s public spaces have been “neglected, seized, politicized and controlled by a privileged few,” Morales says her administration would push for the public takeover of utilities such as electricity and provide free municipal broadband citywide.</p> <p>She would also invest in Fair Share Planning, an idea in the City Charter that has historically been ignored that directs neighborhoods sited for undesirable or burdensome facilities to also receive an environmental benefit.</p> <p>Morales’ emphasis on New Yorkers with disabilities runs throughout her platform. She says she would increase Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance at bus stops, ferry stops, and green spaces, add curb cuts and Accessible Pedestrian Signals across the city, and require all public meetings to have open captions, sign language interpreters, and large-print format.</p> <p>Like many other mayoral candidates, Morales supports the expansion of the pandemic-era Open Restaurants and Open Streets programs.</p> <p><strong>Transportation</strong><br />Morales’ transportation-related proposals include expanding the Fair Fares program to provide free public transportation for all New York City “students and low-income New Yorkers,” taking steps to make the whole public transportation system free for all, and attempting to make the Citi Bike program a free public utility for all city residents.</p> <p>Morales has also said she would like to move toward city control of the subway system.</p> <p>The Morales administration would support the 25x25 Plan, a plan to reduce car usage by 25% by 2025 put together by advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, and backed by over 80 organizations. The 25x25 plan would convert 25% of streetspace into non-car uses by 2025, meter 1/4 of all free parking in the city and add 500 lane miles of new protected bus-only lanes with the space created by the removed car space. She would strip new buildings of parking requirements, instead replacing that requirement with car-share or bike-share spaces instead.</p> <p><strong>Immigration</strong><br />Unlike the majority of the leading 2021 mayoral candidates, Morales has at least an outline of an immigration policy platform. She would expand the New York Immigrant Family Unit project, a public defender program for immigrants facing deportation run by the Vera Institute of Justice, which has been funded by the New York City Council since 2014. Morales would also increase funding to allow for legal services for non-detained immigrants, as well as for “trusted community-based organizations with proven records of providing free and accessible healthcare to immigrants.”</p> <p>Most of Morales’ ideas on immigration in New York City pertain to limiting the power of the NYPD and ICE, the federal immigration enforcement agency. She would prohibit the NYPD from providing aid to ICE or “inviting ICE into the City,” and from “practices that target undocumented workers, including street vendors.” In addition, Morales would ban all city-level agencies from asking about immigration status other than in order to provide “resources and legal services” to undocumented New Yorkers.</p> <p>As mayor, she would also “invest in real language access professional support” and “establish the right to vote in city elections regardless of citizenship,” which would need to be passed through the City Council.</p> <p><strong>Labor Rights</strong><br />A Morales administration would also take on the issue of workers’ rights. Morales says she would protect workers against wage theft, provide “affirmative human rights protections of undocumented, domestic and low-wage workers,” and “prevent citywide work layoffs and create solutions in collaboration with union leadership”</p> <p>She would expand the Freelance Isn’t Free Act and “better enforce protections for independent contractors and freelancers,” trying to ensure those workers are paid and paid on time.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>As mayor, Morales pledges to ban “waivers of workplace rests,” expand just cause workplace protections, and permit qui tam enforcement, lawsuits where whistleblowers sue an organization they know to be committing fraud against the government and reap financial rewards if successful.</p> <p>Morales would provide “aggressive monitoring and enforcement” of pay equity laws and establish a “Pool Benefits Fund” for informal and domestic workers to provide healthcare, among other benefits.</p> <p><strong>Gender Equity</strong><br />A Morales administration would decriminalize sex work and advocate for the rights of sex workers, and expand free abortion and contraception in New York City. In addition, she would entrust NYC’s Health and Human Services, Center for Health Equity, and the Commission for Gender Equity to eliminate “preventable causes” of Black maternal and infant mortality by creating a “multi-agency and community expert task force” to work on the issue.</p> <p>To expand resources for LGBTQ New Yorkers, Morales would “prioritize the funding of trusted healthcare providers,” and mandate diversity and inclusion curriculum in New York City schools, including for teachers and administrators. Morales also pledges to expand housing opportunities and safe spaces.</p> <p>Writing that “New York State must also be a partner with the City of New York,” Morales says she would advocate for the State Legislature to pass the Hate Crimes Analysis and Review Act, which would require the state to release the demographic information of both perpetrators and victims of hate crimes; The Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights, to ensure LGBTQ elderly people are protected from discrimination; and a bill that would “vacate sex trafficking-related convictions from people’s records.”</p> <p>

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by Grace Getman for Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this story.</p>
Decision NYC: Mark Levine Discusses His Run for Manhattan Borough President 2021-04-04T04:00:00+00:00 2021-04-04T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10300-decision-nyc-mark-levine-runs-manhattan-borough-president Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/46295785234_47c00f10e1_c.jpg" alt="Mark Levine for MBP" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>Mark Levine (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>As part of the "Decision NYC with Ben Max" series of candidate interviews from Manhattan Neighborhood Network and Gotham Gazette, Democratic candidates for Manhattan Borough President talked about their campaigns ahead of the June primary. In this episode, City Council Member Mark Levine joined host Ben Max to explain his vision for the role. Watch:</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href ="/city/10300-decision-nyc-mark-levine-runs-manhattan-borough-president">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/46295785234_47c00f10e1_c.jpg" alt="Mark Levine for MBP" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>Mark Levine (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>As part of the "Decision NYC with Ben Max" series of candidate interviews from Manhattan Neighborhood Network and Gotham Gazette, Democratic candidates for Manhattan Borough President talked about their campaigns ahead of the June primary. In this episode, City Council Member Mark Levine joined host Ben Max to explain his vision for the role. Watch:</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href ="/city/10300-decision-nyc-mark-levine-runs-manhattan-borough-president">Read More ...</a></p> Video Brief: Transportation and the 2021 Election 2021-04-04T04:00:00+00:00 2021-04-04T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10338-video-brief-transportation-transit-subways-buses-2021-nyc-election Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/april/bx6-select-bus.jpg" alt="bx6 select bus" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor rides the bus (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In this video brief (<a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/2021-video-briefs">find others here</a>) on the top issus in the 2021 New York City elections, hosts Jarrett Murphy and Ben Max discuss key topics related to transit and transportation that are on the agenda in the race for mayor and other offices. Watch:</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href ="/city/10338-video-brief-transportation-transit-subways-buses-2021-nyc-election">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/april/bx6-select-bus.jpg" alt="bx6 select bus" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor rides the bus (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In this video brief (<a href="https://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/2021-video-briefs">find others here</a>) on the top issus in the 2021 New York City elections, hosts Jarrett Murphy and Ben Max discuss key topics related to transit and transportation that are on the agenda in the race for mayor and other offices. Watch:</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href ="/city/10338-video-brief-transportation-transit-subways-buses-2021-nyc-election">Read More ...</a></p> Decision NYC: Elizabeth Caputo Discusses Her Run for Manhattan Borough President 2021-04-02T04:00:00+00:00 2021-04-02T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10301-decision-nyc-elizabeth-caputo-runs-manhattan-borough-president Gotham Gazette ggstaff@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/february/elizabeth-caputo-twitter.jpg" alt="elizabeth caputo twitter" width="600" height="600" /></p> <p>Elizabeth Caputo (photo: @elizabethcaputo)</p> <hr /> <p>As part of the "Decision NYC with Ben Max" series of candidate interviews from Manhattan Neighborhood Network and Gotham Gazette, Democratic candidates for Manhattan Borough President talked about their campaigns ahead of the June primary. In this episode, former community board chair Elizabeth Caputo joined host Ben Max to explain her vision for the role. Watch:</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href ="/city/10301-decision-nyc-elizabeth-caputo-runs-manhattan-borough-president">Read More ...</a></p> <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/february/elizabeth-caputo-twitter.jpg" alt="elizabeth caputo twitter" width="600" height="600" /></p> <p>Elizabeth Caputo (photo: @elizabethcaputo)</p> <hr /> <p>As part of the "Decision NYC with Ben Max" series of candidate interviews from Manhattan Neighborhood Network and Gotham Gazette, Democratic candidates for Manhattan Borough President talked about their campaigns ahead of the June primary. In this episode, former community board chair Elizabeth Caputo joined host Ben Max to explain her vision for the role. Watch:</p> <p class="feed-readmore"><a target="_blank" href ="/city/10301-decision-nyc-elizabeth-caputo-runs-manhattan-borough-president">Read More ...</a></p> Max & Murphy Podcast: A Housing & Homelessness Agenda for the Next Mayor 2021-04-01T04:00:00+00:00 2021-04-01T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10332-max-murphy-podcast-housing-homelessness-agenda-next-mayor Ben Max bmax@gothamgazette.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/podcast/a-five-boro-housing-protect.jpg" alt="a five boro housing protect" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio unveils his housing plan in May 2014 (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>March 31, 2021 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: A Housing &amp; Homelessness Agenda for the Next Mayor<br /></strong></p> <p>Rachel Fee, Executive Director of the New York Housing Conference, and Raysa S. Rodriguez, Associate Executive Director for Policy &amp; Advocacy at the Citizens’ Committee for Children, joined the show to discuss how the next Mayor of New York City should address housing and homelessness.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/1020013732&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc; line-break: anywhere; word-break: normal; overflow: hidden; white-space: nowrap; text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif; font-weight: 100;"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/gotham-gazette-max-murphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" title="Max &amp; Murphy">Max &amp; Murphy</a> · <a href="https://soundcloud.com/gotham-gazette-max-murphy/episode-289-a-housing-homelessness-agenda-for-the-next-mayor" target="_blank" rel="noopener" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" title="Episode 289: A Housing &amp; Homelessness Agenda For The Next Mayor">Episode 289: A Housing &amp; Homelessness Agenda For The Next Mayor</a></div> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/podcast/a-five-boro-housing-protect.jpg" alt="a five boro housing protect" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio unveils his housing plan in May 2014 (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>March 31, 2021 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: A Housing &amp; Homelessness Agenda for the Next Mayor<br /></strong></p> <p>Rachel Fee, Executive Director of the New York Housing Conference, and Raysa S. Rodriguez, Associate Executive Director for Policy &amp; Advocacy at the Citizens’ Committee for Children, joined the show to discuss how the next Mayor of New York City should address housing and homelessness.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/1020013732&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc; line-break: anywhere; word-break: normal; overflow: hidden; white-space: nowrap; text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif; font-weight: 100;"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/gotham-gazette-max-murphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" title="Max &amp; Murphy">Max &amp; Murphy</a> · <a href="https://soundcloud.com/gotham-gazette-max-murphy/episode-289-a-housing-homelessness-agenda-for-the-next-mayor" target="_blank" rel="noopener" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" title="Episode 289: A Housing &amp; Homelessness Agenda For The Next Mayor">Episode 289: A Housing &amp; Homelessness Agenda For The Next Mayor</a></div> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
What Will The Electorate Look Like For The 2021 Democratic Mayoral Primary? 2021-03-31T04:00:00+00:00 2021-03-31T04:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10312-what-will-electorate-be-for-2021-democratic-mayoral-primary Samar Khurshid samarkhurshid@gmail.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/february/1-what-will-electorate.jpg" alt="1 what will electorate" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>Voters on line to vote (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In 2013, when Bill de Blasio emerged victorious in the Democratic primary and went on to win his first term as mayor, there were 3.14 million Democrats registered to vote in the city. Since then, nearly 620,000 more voters have registered as Democrats, bolstering the party’s rolls for the upcoming June primary, the election likely to determine de Blasio’s successor and the first-ever citywide contest using ranked-choice voting.</p> <p>A crowded field of Democrats has emerged, with a top tier of eight, more than half of whom have never run for any elected office before and only two who are current elected officials. It’s another wide open, competitive race, with a series of factors involved that make its contours as unpredictable as the outcome is important to the future of the city. One especially key piece of the equation is what the electorate will look like, and how the candidates, the coronavirus pandemic, the shift from a September to a June primary, the implementation of early voting and ranked-choice voting, the exceptionally large number of candidates running for City Council seats, and several other factors will all impact who turns out and in what numbers.</p> <p>New York City’s closed primaries, where only registered members of a party can cast a vote, tend to see low turnout. But, because Democrats outnumber Republicans seven-to-one, the primary will all but decide who the next mayor will be. In 2013, only 691,801 Democratic voters (22%) cast a ballot in the primary and de Blasio won the nomination with just 282,344 of those votes. In 2017, when de Blasio was comfortably reelected and faced nominal opposition, only 480,569 votes were cast in the primary and the incumbent received 343,054.</p> <p>In 2013 de Blasio exceeded expectations, coming from behind in a crowded primary by winning support from a broad coalition of voters. According to <a href="http://www.nycelectionatlas.com/maps.html#!2013primaryMaps">an analysis by the CUNY Graduate Center</a>, Black communities in Central and Western Brooklyn, Southeast Queens, Upper Manhattan, and the North Bronx all voted for him in heavy numbers, as did white liberals in Brownstone Brooklyn, “white ethnic” enclaves in Greenpoint and Long Island City, and Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn. He also won a fair share of Hispanic voters in several parts of the Bronx and Upper Manhattan.</p> <p>The 2013 primary vote itself was demographically diverse, according to that analysis. Of the total votes, 44.1% came from white voters, 28.1% from Black voters, 22.1% from Hispanic voters, and 5.2% from Asian voters, according to the CUNY analysis. Turnout for de Blasio -- who received just over 40% of the primary vote and therefore narrowly avoided having to compete in a runoff (which have been eliminated by ranked-choice voting) -- largely followed a similar pattern to overall turnout: of his total, he is believed to have received 43.9% from white voters, 32.8% from Black voters, 20% from Hispanic voters, and 3.3% from Asian voters.</p> <p>Of the total votes in that primary, Brooklyn accounted for 32.6%, Manhattan 28.6%, Queens 21.5%, the Bronx 13.9%, and Staten Island 3%.</p> <p>De Blasio won 46.3% of the Brooklyn vote, 40.9% of the Manhattan vote, 34.9% of the Queens vote, 38.1% of the Bronx vote and 34.3% of the Staten Island vote.</p> <p>The Upper West Side delivered 33,935 votes in the 2013 primary, of which 14,357 went to de Blasio. The neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant, together accounted for 82,230 votes, and de Blasio won 41,835 of them.</p> <p>He also outperformed his competitors in neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish populations. In Borough Park, of the 8,796 votes cast, 3,879 went to de Blasio, who used to represent the area in the City Council. Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents together cast 16,351 votes, including 7,159 for de Blasio. The Orthodox Jewish vote, estimated at as many as 80,000 voters, has proved crucial in previous primaries and candidates, as well as sitting elected officials, make concerted efforts to court support from what is known as a swingable bloc. Entrepreneur and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, the perceived early frontrunner in this year’s primary, has been making overtures to the community while Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has been building relationships there for years. There is also a smaller but sizable Orthodox Jewish population in Queens.</p> <p>Zooming back out, a Siena poll of likely Democratic voters from August 2013 -- a month before the mayoral primary that year -- found that 45% considered themselves liberal, 35% moderate, and 14% conservative. Just over a third, 34%, were from a union household. In terms of religious identification, 24% were Catholic, 28% Protestant, and 15% Jewish, while the remaining 29% identified with other religions. A larger portion of likely voters, 31%, had an annual income of less than $50,000, compared with 27% who earned between $50,000 and $100,000, and another 27% who earned more than $100,000.</p> <p>Exit polling from <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/projects/elections/2013/nyc-primary/mayor/exit-polls.html">The New York Times</a> of Democrats who actually voted in the primary showed similar patterns. As was expected, 54% of those voters were women. About 63% were of the age of 45 or older. More than half, 56%, were college graduates. About 24% said they were very liberal, 36% said they were somewhat liberal, and 30% said they were moderate, and 10% said they were conservative. Nine percent of voters identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Thirty-four percent said they belonged to a union household.</p> <p>Fast forward to the 2018 midterm elections. Turnout swelled in the city and across the state, though New York still held two separate primaries, in June for congressional races and in September for state and local races – primaries have since been consolidated to June. Besides growing resentment toward then-President Donald Trump, a wave of progressive activists and organizations rallied to encourage voting, especially in a series of competitive Democratic primary challenges by progressives against more moderate state senators.</p> <p>It was also the election that saw Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez elevated to Congress, defeating the longtime Democrtic stalwart Joe Crowley in the June primary, and which saw most members of what had been the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference defeated in September. With Governor Andrew Cuomo also facing a primary challenge that year, from actor and education activist Cythia Nixon, and competitive primaries for lieutenant governor and attorney general, turnout was up. In New York City, 897,959 Democrats cast a vote in the state primary (598,045 voted for Cuomo and 299,914 for Nixon), an increase of more than 200,000 votes from the 2013 New York City primaries that included the open mayoral race as well as races for other seats throughout city government.</p> <p>In 2020, because of the high-profile presidential race, turnout in the primary remained relatively stable despite the fact that all the candidates besides Joe Biden had withdrawn from the race. Of the 847,683 votes cast in the city, Biden won 533,229. Notably, that primary was held amid the pandemic over an effort by Cuomo and others to cancel it because Yang, who had suspended his presidential campaign, sued to make sure the vote occurred. Yang is of course now running for mayor in this year’s Democratic primary, has the highest name recognition in the field, and has led the early polls.</p> <p>In the eight years since de Blasio won the last wide open Democratic mayoral primary, the electorate has clearly shifted somewhat, but it’s not clear how much, or what can happen in the final months before June’s vote to influence who turns out and in what numbers. One of the open questions about the 2021 primary raised by recent New York election cycles is how much the ascendent far left of the Democratic Party will influence the mayoral and other races. For example, the growing New York City branch of the Democratic Socialists of America, which has over the last two years elected six state legislators, is not endorsing in the mayoral race but is working to elect six endorsees to the City Council.</p> <p>Recent polling of the 2021 mayoral race by Fontas Advisors and Core Decision Analytics, a lobbying and opinion research firm, respectively, also offers a glimpse at the forecasted electorate. The firms estimate that 36% of likely Democratic primary voters will be white, 33% will be Black, 20% will be Hispanic/Latino, and 6% Asian. Those would be decreases from 2013 among white and Latino voters and increases among Black and Asian voters.</p> <p>They also estimate 2021 Democratic primary voters will overwhelmingly be women, 61% in fact, which they say is in line with recent city primaries.</p> <p>Most campaigns and other experts believe the primary electorate will expand, giving greater voice to communities that have otherwise been less engaged in previous municipal elections, in part due to ranked-choice voting, which encourages campaigns to pursue more voters in the hopes of being their first, second, or third choice. Candidates are expected to make broader appeals outside what would be their traditional bases and the diversity of the top tier of candidates themselves may also spur more voters to the polls -- Yang, for example, is the son of Taiwanese immigrants and, in vying to become the city’s first Asian-American mayor, is hoping to expand the Asian electorate. Maya Wiley and Dianne Morales are both seeking to become the first woman and woman of color elected mayor; Kathryn Garcia the first woman elected mayor; Eric Adams and Ray McGuire the second Black mayor. Scott Stringer and Shaun Donovan, two white men, round out the top eight Democrats. Both of them, among others, are hoping for major support from the white progressive strongholds of the Upper West Side and Brownstone Brooklyn.</p> <p>The city election comes on the heels of a presidential election that, despite fears that the coronavirus would depress turnout, saw more voter participation than ever before as the state took measures to greatly expand access to absentee ballots, among other steps.</p> <p>The Demcoratic primary electorate has been multicultural for decades, but it’s become increasingly more liberal, said Jerry Skurnik of Prime New York, a consultancy that closely studies voter rolls and turnout. “The white Catholic vote has gone down in the Democratic primary in the last 10 years now. That’s the reason why it's gotten more liberal and more progressive,” Skurnik said. “Basically, more moderate, conservative Democrats have either stopped voting, no longer live in the city, or are no longer Democrats.”</p> <p>Part of the change is organic, with younger people moving into the city and becoming newly-registered voters. Though younger voters vote at lower rates than older ones, they tend to vote for progressives when they do participate. Skurnik predicted that turnout will increase from recent mayoral primaries, expecting at least 800,000 votes among Democrats in June. (There will also be a Republican mayoral primary among several candidates.)</p> <p>“If you look at the turnout in primary elections, it's correlated with income and education. So the home-owning brownstone neighborhoods are going to turn out more,” said John Mollenkopf, director of the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center.</p> <p>More women tend to turn out in the Democratic primary voters than men. “Overall, I would say probably about 58% of the primary voters will be women,” Mollenkopf said, “and they tend to be older. The median age is in the upper 50s.”</p> <p>Besides younger professionals registering with the Democratic Party, there has also been growth among various immigrant communities that may not be large enough to swing the mayoral race but will likely play a key role in City Council races, Mollenkopf said. For instance, there has been “tremendous growth” of South Asian voters and several City Council races in Queens feature diverse slates that include South Asian candidates. That may also lead to increased overall turnout but in a counterintuitive way. “Usually turnout is driven by the top of the ticket...To what extent will turnout be driven by the bottom of the ticket as opposed to the top of the ticket?” Mollenkopf wondered. “Normally, the bottom of the ticket does not have much impact. But this [election] is unusually competitive.”</p> <p>Luke Hayes, campaign manager of Rank The Vote NYC, which successfully advocated for the passage of ranked-choice voting by popular referendum in 2019 and is now working to educate the electorate about the new system, said the post-Trump era has encouraged greater participation. Where primary voters tended to skew older, now “the kind of surge in turnout we're seeing is from a broader array in terms of age groups, across the board,” said Hayes, who has run campaigns for successful insurgent progressives including now-State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and now-Rep. Jamaal Bowman (both of whom have endorsed Stringer after he endorsed them in their upstart bids).</p> <p>Ranked-choice voting and an extremely large and diverse slate of mayoral candidates is also likely to animate more voters, Hayes pointed out. By necessity, candidates may be campaigning in districts that they would otherwise overlook and, because of the flexibility of virtual campaigning, may be reaching more voters than they could physically meet. “I think we're seeing candidates start to expand who they're talking to and I think that really has a great effect,” Hayes said, “because more voters are getting interactions with more campaigns, instead of just having that one candidate come to your door, that one candidate call you.” In other municipalities that have implemented ranked-choice voting, studies have shown that turnout increased and more women and people of color are elected to office.</p> <p>The first competitive mayoral election in eight years has prompted competing interests who are hoping to influence the Democratic primary. On the one hand, there are groups like Make the Road Action, the political arm of immigration advocacy organization Make the Road New York, which is attempting to get New Yorkers in communities of color, especially progressives, to turn out in greater numbers. “I think we see opportunities among voters who for a long time were ignored as quote-unquote low-propensity voters, and who were often voters that political parties and political campaigns ignored come campaign season,” said Daniel Altschuler, managing director of Make the Road Action. “There's just a broader pool of folks who have begun in the last couple of cycles to get into the process. Not just in presidential years and not just in general elections, but in local elections and local primaries."</p> <p>He was also enthusiastic that ranked-choice voting would help more Black and brown New Yorkers make an impact on the race. “It's a really positive development for democracy in New York City,” he added.</p> <p>On the other hand, the city’s moneyed class has been making attempts to persuade moderate voters to beat back what they see as a wave of anti-business sentiment that they say de Blasio fostered and that has been expressed by many of the candidates seeking to replace him, not to mention many running for City Council positions. According to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/09/nyregion/stephen-ross-mayor-money.html">a New York Times report</a>, billionaire real estate developer Stephen Ross has been speaking with fellow corporate leaders to convince them to spend millions in independent expenditures on the mayoral race.</p> <p>“The impact of the presidential election, and what happened on January 6...and what's happening in Albany right now, are all keeping the public's eye on the importance of who's running our government,” said Art Chang, one of the many Democratic mayoral candidates and a former leader of a voter engagement organization. “I don't know that I've ever seen the interest level this high in a mayoral election at this point before.”</p> <p>He believes that one of the trends in this election will be higher turnout among Asian-Americans, who have tended to vote at lower rates than their overall representation in the population. He pointed to the increased activism in Asian-American communities, particularly in the wake of rising anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic, highlighted most direly by the recent mass shooting in Atlanta but also several horrific incidents in the city.</p> <p>“As time has gone on, there's a new generation of Asian-American activists and we're beginning to see, I think, a lot more activity there which I think is very hopeful for this election,” he said.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/february/1-what-will-electorate.jpg" alt="1 what will electorate" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>Voters on line to vote (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In 2013, when Bill de Blasio emerged victorious in the Democratic primary and went on to win his first term as mayor, there were 3.14 million Democrats registered to vote in the city. Since then, nearly 620,000 more voters have registered as Democrats, bolstering the party’s rolls for the upcoming June primary, the election likely to determine de Blasio’s successor and the first-ever citywide contest using ranked-choice voting.</p> <p>A crowded field of Democrats has emerged, with a top tier of eight, more than half of whom have never run for any elected office before and only two who are current elected officials. It’s another wide open, competitive race, with a series of factors involved that make its contours as unpredictable as the outcome is important to the future of the city. One especially key piece of the equation is what the electorate will look like, and how the candidates, the coronavirus pandemic, the shift from a September to a June primary, the implementation of early voting and ranked-choice voting, the exceptionally large number of candidates running for City Council seats, and several other factors will all impact who turns out and in what numbers.</p> <p>New York City’s closed primaries, where only registered members of a party can cast a vote, tend to see low turnout. But, because Democrats outnumber Republicans seven-to-one, the primary will all but decide who the next mayor will be. In 2013, only 691,801 Democratic voters (22%) cast a ballot in the primary and de Blasio won the nomination with just 282,344 of those votes. In 2017, when de Blasio was comfortably reelected and faced nominal opposition, only 480,569 votes were cast in the primary and the incumbent received 343,054.</p> <p>In 2013 de Blasio exceeded expectations, coming from behind in a crowded primary by winning support from a broad coalition of voters. According to <a href="http://www.nycelectionatlas.com/maps.html#!2013primaryMaps">an analysis by the CUNY Graduate Center</a>, Black communities in Central and Western Brooklyn, Southeast Queens, Upper Manhattan, and the North Bronx all voted for him in heavy numbers, as did white liberals in Brownstone Brooklyn, “white ethnic” enclaves in Greenpoint and Long Island City, and Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn. He also won a fair share of Hispanic voters in several parts of the Bronx and Upper Manhattan.</p> <p>The 2013 primary vote itself was demographically diverse, according to that analysis. Of the total votes, 44.1% came from white voters, 28.1% from Black voters, 22.1% from Hispanic voters, and 5.2% from Asian voters, according to the CUNY analysis. Turnout for de Blasio -- who received just over 40% of the primary vote and therefore narrowly avoided having to compete in a runoff (which have been eliminated by ranked-choice voting) -- largely followed a similar pattern to overall turnout: of his total, he is believed to have received 43.9% from white voters, 32.8% from Black voters, 20% from Hispanic voters, and 3.3% from Asian voters.</p> <p>Of the total votes in that primary, Brooklyn accounted for 32.6%, Manhattan 28.6%, Queens 21.5%, the Bronx 13.9%, and Staten Island 3%.</p> <p>De Blasio won 46.3% of the Brooklyn vote, 40.9% of the Manhattan vote, 34.9% of the Queens vote, 38.1% of the Bronx vote and 34.3% of the Staten Island vote.</p> <p>The Upper West Side delivered 33,935 votes in the 2013 primary, of which 14,357 went to de Blasio. The neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant, together accounted for 82,230 votes, and de Blasio won 41,835 of them.</p> <p>He also outperformed his competitors in neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish populations. In Borough Park, of the 8,796 votes cast, 3,879 went to de Blasio, who used to represent the area in the City Council. Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents together cast 16,351 votes, including 7,159 for de Blasio. The Orthodox Jewish vote, estimated at as many as 80,000 voters, has proved crucial in previous primaries and candidates, as well as sitting elected officials, make concerted efforts to court support from what is known as a swingable bloc. Entrepreneur and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, the perceived early frontrunner in this year’s primary, has been making overtures to the community while Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has been building relationships there for years. There is also a smaller but sizable Orthodox Jewish population in Queens.</p> <p>Zooming back out, a Siena poll of likely Democratic voters from August 2013 -- a month before the mayoral primary that year -- found that 45% considered themselves liberal, 35% moderate, and 14% conservative. Just over a third, 34%, were from a union household. In terms of religious identification, 24% were Catholic, 28% Protestant, and 15% Jewish, while the remaining 29% identified with other religions. A larger portion of likely voters, 31%, had an annual income of less than $50,000, compared with 27% who earned between $50,000 and $100,000, and another 27% who earned more than $100,000.</p> <p>Exit polling from <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/projects/elections/2013/nyc-primary/mayor/exit-polls.html">The New York Times</a> of Democrats who actually voted in the primary showed similar patterns. As was expected, 54% of those voters were women. About 63% were of the age of 45 or older. More than half, 56%, were college graduates. About 24% said they were very liberal, 36% said they were somewhat liberal, and 30% said they were moderate, and 10% said they were conservative. Nine percent of voters identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Thirty-four percent said they belonged to a union household.</p> <p>Fast forward to the 2018 midterm elections. Turnout swelled in the city and across the state, though New York still held two separate primaries, in June for congressional races and in September for state and local races – primaries have since been consolidated to June. Besides growing resentment toward then-President Donald Trump, a wave of progressive activists and organizations rallied to encourage voting, especially in a series of competitive Democratic primary challenges by progressives against more moderate state senators.</p> <p>It was also the election that saw Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez elevated to Congress, defeating the longtime Democrtic stalwart Joe Crowley in the June primary, and which saw most members of what had been the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference defeated in September. With Governor Andrew Cuomo also facing a primary challenge that year, from actor and education activist Cythia Nixon, and competitive primaries for lieutenant governor and attorney general, turnout was up. In New York City, 897,959 Democrats cast a vote in the state primary (598,045 voted for Cuomo and 299,914 for Nixon), an increase of more than 200,000 votes from the 2013 New York City primaries that included the open mayoral race as well as races for other seats throughout city government.</p> <p>In 2020, because of the high-profile presidential race, turnout in the primary remained relatively stable despite the fact that all the candidates besides Joe Biden had withdrawn from the race. Of the 847,683 votes cast in the city, Biden won 533,229. Notably, that primary was held amid the pandemic over an effort by Cuomo and others to cancel it because Yang, who had suspended his presidential campaign, sued to make sure the vote occurred. Yang is of course now running for mayor in this year’s Democratic primary, has the highest name recognition in the field, and has led the early polls.</p> <p>In the eight years since de Blasio won the last wide open Democratic mayoral primary, the electorate has clearly shifted somewhat, but it’s not clear how much, or what can happen in the final months before June’s vote to influence who turns out and in what numbers. One of the open questions about the 2021 primary raised by recent New York election cycles is how much the ascendent far left of the Democratic Party will influence the mayoral and other races. For example, the growing New York City branch of the Democratic Socialists of America, which has over the last two years elected six state legislators, is not endorsing in the mayoral race but is working to elect six endorsees to the City Council.</p> <p>Recent polling of the 2021 mayoral race by Fontas Advisors and Core Decision Analytics, a lobbying and opinion research firm, respectively, also offers a glimpse at the forecasted electorate. The firms estimate that 36% of likely Democratic primary voters will be white, 33% will be Black, 20% will be Hispanic/Latino, and 6% Asian. Those would be decreases from 2013 among white and Latino voters and increases among Black and Asian voters.</p> <p>They also estimate 2021 Democratic primary voters will overwhelmingly be women, 61% in fact, which they say is in line with recent city primaries.</p> <p>Most campaigns and other experts believe the primary electorate will expand, giving greater voice to communities that have otherwise been less engaged in previous municipal elections, in part due to ranked-choice voting, which encourages campaigns to pursue more voters in the hopes of being their first, second, or third choice. Candidates are expected to make broader appeals outside what would be their traditional bases and the diversity of the top tier of candidates themselves may also spur more voters to the polls -- Yang, for example, is the son of Taiwanese immigrants and, in vying to become the city’s first Asian-American mayor, is hoping to expand the Asian electorate. Maya Wiley and Dianne Morales are both seeking to become the first woman and woman of color elected mayor; Kathryn Garcia the first woman elected mayor; Eric Adams and Ray McGuire the second Black mayor. Scott Stringer and Shaun Donovan, two white men, round out the top eight Democrats. Both of them, among others, are hoping for major support from the white progressive strongholds of the Upper West Side and Brownstone Brooklyn.</p> <p>The city election comes on the heels of a presidential election that, despite fears that the coronavirus would depress turnout, saw more voter participation than ever before as the state took measures to greatly expand access to absentee ballots, among other steps.</p> <p>The Demcoratic primary electorate has been multicultural for decades, but it’s become increasingly more liberal, said Jerry Skurnik of Prime New York, a consultancy that closely studies voter rolls and turnout. “The white Catholic vote has gone down in the Democratic primary in the last 10 years now. That’s the reason why it's gotten more liberal and more progressive,” Skurnik said. “Basically, more moderate, conservative Democrats have either stopped voting, no longer live in the city, or are no longer Democrats.”</p> <p>Part of the change is organic, with younger people moving into the city and becoming newly-registered voters. Though younger voters vote at lower rates than older ones, they tend to vote for progressives when they do participate. Skurnik predicted that turnout will increase from recent mayoral primaries, expecting at least 800,000 votes among Democrats in June. (There will also be a Republican mayoral primary among several candidates.)</p> <p>“If you look at the turnout in primary elections, it's correlated with income and education. So the home-owning brownstone neighborhoods are going to turn out more,” said John Mollenkopf, director of the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center.</p> <p>More women tend to turn out in the Democratic primary voters than men. “Overall, I would say probably about 58% of the primary voters will be women,” Mollenkopf said, “and they tend to be older. The median age is in the upper 50s.”</p> <p>Besides younger professionals registering with the Democratic Party, there has also been growth among various immigrant communities that may not be large enough to swing the mayoral race but will likely play a key role in City Council races, Mollenkopf said. For instance, there has been “tremendous growth” of South Asian voters and several City Council races in Queens feature diverse slates that include South Asian candidates. That may also lead to increased overall turnout but in a counterintuitive way. “Usually turnout is driven by the top of the ticket...To what extent will turnout be driven by the bottom of the ticket as opposed to the top of the ticket?” Mollenkopf wondered. “Normally, the bottom of the ticket does not have much impact. But this [election] is unusually competitive.”</p> <p>Luke Hayes, campaign manager of Rank The Vote NYC, which successfully advocated for the passage of ranked-choice voting by popular referendum in 2019 and is now working to educate the electorate about the new system, said the post-Trump era has encouraged greater participation. Where primary voters tended to skew older, now “the kind of surge in turnout we're seeing is from a broader array in terms of age groups, across the board,” said Hayes, who has run campaigns for successful insurgent progressives including now-State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and now-Rep. Jamaal Bowman (both of whom have endorsed Stringer after he endorsed them in their upstart bids).</p> <p>Ranked-choice voting and an extremely large and diverse slate of mayoral candidates is also likely to animate more voters, Hayes pointed out. By necessity, candidates may be campaigning in districts that they would otherwise overlook and, because of the flexibility of virtual campaigning, may be reaching more voters than they could physically meet. “I think we're seeing candidates start to expand who they're talking to and I think that really has a great effect,” Hayes said, “because more voters are getting interactions with more campaigns, instead of just having that one candidate come to your door, that one candidate call you.” In other municipalities that have implemented ranked-choice voting, studies have shown that turnout increased and more women and people of color are elected to office.</p> <p>The first competitive mayoral election in eight years has prompted competing interests who are hoping to influence the Democratic primary. On the one hand, there are groups like Make the Road Action, the political arm of immigration advocacy organization Make the Road New York, which is attempting to get New Yorkers in communities of color, especially progressives, to turn out in greater numbers. “I think we see opportunities among voters who for a long time were ignored as quote-unquote low-propensity voters, and who were often voters that political parties and political campaigns ignored come campaign season,” said Daniel Altschuler, managing director of Make the Road Action. “There's just a broader pool of folks who have begun in the last couple of cycles to get into the process. Not just in presidential years and not just in general elections, but in local elections and local primaries."</p> <p>He was also enthusiastic that ranked-choice voting would help more Black and brown New Yorkers make an impact on the race. “It's a really positive development for democracy in New York City,” he added.</p> <p>On the other hand, the city’s moneyed class has been making attempts to persuade moderate voters to beat back what they see as a wave of anti-business sentiment that they say de Blasio fostered and that has been expressed by many of the candidates seeking to replace him, not to mention many running for City Council positions. According to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/09/nyregion/stephen-ross-mayor-money.html">a New York Times report</a>, billionaire real estate developer Stephen Ross has been speaking with fellow corporate leaders to convince them to spend millions in independent expenditures on the mayoral race.</p> <p>“The impact of the presidential election, and what happened on January 6...and what's happening in Albany right now, are all keeping the public's eye on the importance of who's running our government,” said Art Chang, one of the many Democratic mayoral candidates and a former leader of a voter engagement organization. “I don't know that I've ever seen the interest level this high in a mayoral election at this point before.”</p> <p>He believes that one of the trends in this election will be higher turnout among Asian-Americans, who have tended to vote at lower rates than their overall representation in the population. He pointed to the increased activism in Asian-American communities, particularly in the wake of rising anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic, highlighted most direly by the recent mass shooting in Atlanta but also several horrific incidents in the city.</p> <p>“As time has gone on, there's a new generation of Asian-American activists and we're beginning to see, I think, a lot more activity there which I think is very hopeful for this election,” he said.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, senior reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Democratic Mayoral Candidates Outline Plans for City’s Waterfront and Waterways 2021-03-29T16:00:00+00:00 2021-03-29T16:00:00+00:00 https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/10321-democratic-mayoral-candidates-new-york-city-waterfront-waterways-climate-change-resiliency Allison Smith asmith@gg.com <p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/february/rockaway-atlantis-prj.jpg" alt="rockaway atlantis prj" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>Coastline protections (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Eight leading Democratic candidates for New York City mayor have shared their visions and strategies for prioritizing the city’s hundreds of miles of coastline as part of their climate change and economic recovery plans and in response to a survey conducted by Waterfront Alliance, a coalition of activists, businesses, and organizations, in partnership with the Rise to Resilience coalition.</p> <p>The candidates —&nbsp;Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Maya Wiley, and Andrew Yang — committed to various actions and solutions on a range of salient topics, from preparing against rising sea levels and extreme weather, ensuring resiliency investments and infrastructure, including for the city’s most vulnerable and historically marginalized populations, to building green infrastructure and spurring job growth in green and blue industries.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Although survey results, which Gotham Gazette previewed before their Tuesday release, showed that candidates broadly agreed that the city’s 520 miles of waterfront will play an instrumental role in the post-pandemic economic recovery, responses revealed sharp differences among candidates in terms of how they would actualize their visions for the city’s shoreline and waterways.</p> <p>The mayoral candidates were in part responding to the <a href="https://waterfrontalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Waterfront_Alliance_Mayoral_Platform-1.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Waterfront and Resilience Platform for the Next Mayor of New York City</a> put out earlier this year by Waterfront Alliance and Rise to Resilience, and they will also have the opportunity to build upon their survey responses on May 14, during the annual Waterfront Conference, where they’ll participate in the Waterfront Alliance’s “Mayoral Town Hall.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“We want New Yorkers to know where candidates stand on critical, sometimes overlooked priorities such as coastal resilience, equitable public access, and a maritime industry that is adopting new industries like offshore wind,” said Cortney Koenig Worrall, president and CEO of the Waterfront Alliance, in a statement. “We encourage candidates to communicate their strategies, commit to action and solutions, and embrace this moment as unlike any other the City has faced due to climate change. COVID-19 and the climate disasters that the country endured in just the last 12 months show us that business as usual is no longer an option. We all need to be informed, and the next mayor committed, so that together we can steer New York City and the region to a healthier, more equitable, and prosperous future.”&nbsp;</p> <p>According to a series of Twitter polls from Waterfront Alliance, many New Yorkers want increased climate resiliency investments and infrastructure projects along the waterfront. Respondents also care about waterfront access and recreation, including more urban beaches.&nbsp;</p> <p>In their survey responses, the Democratic mayoral candidates —&nbsp;competing ahead of the June primary — unanimously agreed to accelerate the implementation of infrastructure upgrades through an inclusive five-borough plan that would place emphasis on protection from climate change and rising sea levels for the city’s most vulnerable communities. But they proposed different strategies to varying degrees of specificity for enacting such comprehensive resiliency.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I believe we need to accelerate progress on major resiliency infrastructure projects, such as Staten Island’s South Shore Seawall and the range of onshore resiliency projects contemplated by the Army Corps HATS study,” said Stringer, who also called for the completion of “Sandy-era projects.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Stringer, one of few candidates who has put out a detailed resiliency and climate plan, criticized the city for failing to make sufficient inroads to embed resilience into its infrastructure plans, citing ongoing projects that would undermine protection against climate change risk. “We cannot pretend to be making progress on building a more resilient city if we allow projects like the redevelopment of Staten Island’s Graniteville wetlands to go ahead,” he said. “I am dismayed the project is going ahead and as a result Staten Island will be more exposed to the next storm, less able to cope with intense rainfall, and all the poorer for losing an area of great beauty.”</p> <p>Garcia emphasized wetlands restoration in her call for more green infrastructure developments. “We will expand bluebelt stormwater management strategies to other flood-prone parts of the city, including southeast Queens, and restore wetlands to serve as a natural buffer to protect our waterfront communities,” she said. “We will implement neighborhood-based resilience strategies to storms, flooding and heat waves that adapt to the unique needs and risks of each neighborhood.”</p> <p>Yang pledged to invest in “new flood protection projects along the city's waterfront” and support “rapid completion of existing efforts like the construction of dunes in the Far Rockaways.” He would address “heat islands” by “improving accessibility of the city’s cooling centers” and “ensuring that NYCHA residents have access to air conditioners.”</p> <p>Citing his experience leading the federal response to Hurricane Sandy, Donovan said he will “embed resilience into all city infrastructure investments and prioritize multi-use and nature-based solutions.” He also promised infrastructure improvements that will support long-term resilience, such as “investing in stormwater management and renewable energy.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Donovan added, “We will take stock of existing plans that have been stalled during the current administration, and address institutional and funding barriers that have historically slowed progress.”</p> <p>McGuire pointed to crucial infrastructure along the waterfront. “With airports, marine transfer facilities, and transportation hubs all close to the water, a major storm surge could wreak havoc on the City’s infrastructure, so I will advocate for enhanced preparedness,” he said. McGuire also proposed to revamp NYC Ferry. “The ferry system has not been effectively serving residents and has been increasingly more expensive to manage,” he said. “NYC Ferry has consistently lagged in ridership due to bad scheduling and routes. Diverting people to the ferries, a clean form of transportation, would have beneficial environmental effects.”&nbsp;</p> <p>McGuire also pledged to “focus on Sandy-impacted neighborhoods” when developing resilient and sustainable infrastructure.</p> <p>As part of her $3 billion New Deal New York plan to spend city capital dollars to build infrastructure and create jobs, Wiley pledged to implement “disaster response mechanisms” that would “build a network of community-driven mutual aid organizations,” providing “timely relief and urgent communication in the wake of climate disasters. Her plan would invest in solar and wind power generation, resilient energy grid infrastructure, energy storage systems, and more.&nbsp;</p> <p>Wiley and Morales emphasized green solutions for infrastructure needs in NYCHA and affordable housing, including decarbonization. Wiley’s plan designates $2 billion of investment in “a climate-resilient NYCHA.” Morales also called for “ecosystem-based approaches using natural infrastructure like urban forestry, parks, and green spaces, and conventional infrastructure like sea-walls, circular economy and waste reduction systems.”</p> <p>Stringer also voiced support for the federal Green New Deal for NYCHA public housing, which would implement green infrastructure for NYCHA buildings and is sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.&nbsp;</p> <p>Adams flexed various initiatives he spearheaded as Brooklyn Borough President as models he would expand to address climate change as mayor. For example, his Sandy Recovery Task Force created a portal that updated impacted communities on the progress of recovery work; providing data in real-time, Adams noted, is crucial for combating climate threats. He also cited his partnership with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative and WEDG Training sessions he has hosted, both of which advanced ideas to create resilient and functional waterfronts, saying he would “make these visions a reality.”</p> <p>Donovan, Yang, and Wiley said they are prepared to work with federal and state agencies to advance their infrastructure goals, while Stringer said he would galvanize New York’s congressional delegation “to support new classes of ships, new storage, and warehouse facilities.”</p> <p>On expanding and democratizing green and waterfront space, most candidates pledged to invest in the Parks and Recreation budget, though candidates did not disclose how large those investments would be. They proposed starkly different ideas for addressing disparities in open space access and differed on areas in the city where they would target their efforts.&nbsp;</p> <p>Donovan, Garcia, and Adams suggested revamping pedestrian walkways, as well as bike and bus lanes to varying degrees.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I pledge to create a network of pedestrian and micro-mobility corridors that better connect greenways with each other,” said Donovan.&nbsp;</p> <p>Adams called for the immediate expansion of Citi Bike “to all corners of New York City” by “allocating capital funds to fully build out a network that can fill the last-mile gap from transit stations to the waterfront open spaces and ferry network.”</p> <p>Garcia said she would “strengthen bus, bike and pedestrian transportation networks to increase access to existing parkland along Jamaica Bay, including the new Shirley Chisholm State Park, to provide much needed open space access to residents of Central and eastern Brooklyn.”</p> <p>Adams and Garcia honed in on historic barriers to waterfront access and infrastructure. “Over the long-term we must recapture lost land from Robert Moses era highway projects that have cut off communities from the waterfront,” said Adams. “Projects like the West Side Highway, which was not rebuilt when it collapsed, and the re-envisioning of the Sheridan Expressway are projects that should be modeled across New York City to bring communities back to the shoreline.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“We should explore strategies to reduce these barriers both visually and geographically and improve connections between waterfront neighborhoods and the shoreline,” said Garcia. “The project in the Bronx to tear down the Sheridan Expressway and rebuild it as a waterfront boulevard is a good case study for reestablishing these linkages.”</p> <p>“I will make sure that city agencies adhere to the requirements of the Environmental Justice Policy Bill as we plan for and deploy capital for parks, recreational facilities, transportation facilities, and other environmental projects,” said Yang. Most of his response focused on funding, saying he would allocate funds from the city’s capital budget, as well as secure funding from the federal government, rather than specific ideas he would implement, but Yang did pledge to “build parks in all neighborhoods.”</p> <p>Although McGuire said he would “focus on accessible open spaces, especially in marginalized areas,” including “additional park spaces, playgrounds, and outdoor learning centers along the waterfront,” he was vague on further details. He voiced praise for the proposed Manhattan beach, as well as The High Line, adding he “would look into further improvements.”</p> <p>Stringer was vague at times in his response, as well, saying he would work to “better support community stewardship of natural areas and allow for acquisition of new space,” but did not expand further.&nbsp;</p> <p>Morales said she would “develop a thematic Green Participatory Budgeting Program to democratize the distribution and administration of public funds and program development.” She also pledged to “expand Green Zones and public EcoDistricts into historically abandoned waterfront communities” in addition to funding park maintenance and beautification improvements.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We must ensure that our waterfront does not become just a playground for wealthy New Yorkers and remains open, accessible and welcoming to all New Yorkers,” said Garcia. “I support investments to create or reimagine waterfront open space in three areas: Staten Island’s North Shore, the South Bronx and along the Harlem River in Upper Manhattan and the western Bronx.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Wiley said she would focus on Bronx and Queens in her efforts to expand the city’s green space, especially regarding “historically marginalized communities.” She pledged to partner with the Waterfront Alliance’s Access for All Task Force as part of her larger effort to ensure equitable funding and maintenance for parks and waterfront areas.&nbsp;</p> <p>Wiley and Donovan both focused on the lack of flood protection for Hunts Point, the city’s food distribution center.&nbsp;</p> <p>“East Harlem and Hunts Point, both major flood zones, have seen almost no investment in flood protection,” said Wiley, and added that the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project will protect part of lower Manhattan for an estimated $1.45 billion.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Donovan promised, “We will expand our use of tools like physical and social vulnerability mapping to further understand how factors like income and race play into climate risk, and prioritize investment in communities that need it most.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Asked how they would provide climate justice solutions to vulnerable and historically marginalized populations, candidates honed in on distinct issues and solutions.&nbsp;</p> <p>Stringer, Yang, and Wiley decried high asthma rates across the city, especially in the Bronx. Stringer and Yang pledged to adhere to the current emissions reductions targets as established in Local Law 97.</p> <p>Stringer promised to power the city with 100% renewable energy by 2035. Other key milestones as part of his climate plan include: close half of all city peaker plants, which pollute low-income communities, by 2028 and the rest by 2035, stop the use of polluting number four heating oil by 2025, and double the solar tax abatement to jumpstart solar installations.</p> <p>McGuire said he would also offer tax credits and other financial incentives to increase solar installations on roofs.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I will also take common sense steps to reduce carbon emissions and improve quality of life, like expanding the NYC CoolRoofs program,” said Yang. “I also support the creation of a Climate and Community Development Fund that subsidize wages and fund apprenticeship programs for workers from low-income communities and communities of color.” Yang also pledged to reduce the burden of waste processing and other environmental harms in low-income and historically marginalized communities, as well as pilot “green zones,” using Los Angeles as an example, which would prevent and reduce existing environmental burdens, target investment, and engage communities.&nbsp;</p> <p>Morales said, “I would set up a racial and social justice review committee to evaluate city policy and legislation for their justice impact.” She also pledged to “establish an environmental health commission to study and set recommendations on the impact of waste and pollution on marginalized communities in partnership with CUNY's school of medicine and environmental studies experts.”</p> <p>Similarly, Yang promised to establish an “environmental justice burden” review for all new developments, which would evaluate the impact on historically marginalized communities.&nbsp;</p> <p>Adams said he would “upgrade our electrical grid and transition our power source to wind and away from natural gas and to shore up our public housing stock,” investments which would be targeted at “our most vulnerable communities.” He cited his experience advocating the “transitioning of electric MTA buses to prioritize areas like East New York and Brownsville” as an example of his success leading such green infrastructure improvements.&nbsp;</p> <p>Stringer, Donovan, Wiley, and Garcia voiced support for the Renewable Rikers plan, which would transform the island into a renewable energy hub.&nbsp;</p> <p>“My administration will work with stakeholders citywide, including community members that have been impacted by the Rikers system and residents that have historically been left out of planning processes to ensure this island becomes a cornerstone of community development and a just transition for uses like green energy, composting, wastewater treatment to provide clean water, and possibly even new public space,” said Donovan.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I support investments to improve air quality by investing in clean freight solutions and electric trucks for last-mile delivery,” Garcia added.&nbsp;</p> <p>Candidates also pitched ideas for spurring job growth in a post-covid green and blue economy.&nbsp;</p> <p>Wiley pledged to create 42,210 local green jobs over three years.&nbsp;</p> <p>McGuire said he will “invest in green energy projects” that “unlock permanent job opportunities,” citing “the development of a wind energy hub in South Brooklyn and the North Shore of Staten Island” as positive examples.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“I will seek to revitalize and remake our ports into hubs of sustainability that can host new manufacturing centers for wind turbines and create green jobs,” said Stringer. He added that he would “double down on investments at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and will offer support to staging areas at Arthur Kill to help make New York City a regional wind powerhouse.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Donovan spotlighted his plan’s proposed NYC Climate Corps, which would employ “young people to work on clean energy and resilience projects through nonprofit and local government grants,” he said. Additionally, Donovan plans to incorporate sustainability education into K-12 public education to prepare young people to become members of the green economy.&nbsp;</p> <p>Similarly, Adams promised to “create a pipeline of education training from middle school, high school, college to educate our young people in this field [the green energy technologies of the future].”</p> <p>Yang pledged to invest in offshore wind facilities, as well as the “resilience and sustainability of ports and maritime infrastructure.”</p> <p>“We will emphasize smart industrial growth that utilizes NYC’s strong position in rail and maritime shipping, including growth of 21st century industries like renewable energy and green manufacturing, and protect and create good-paying manufacturing jobs in neighborhoods like Hunts Point, Williamsburg and Sunset Park,” said Garcia.</p> <p>“We must reimagine and rebuild our public institutions to rise to the challenges of climate change and hundreds of years of environmental injustices,” said Morales. “Major investments in the Blue economy are critical to addressing both of these challenges.”</p> <p>(Carlos Menchaca was also surveyed, but has since bowed out of the mayoral race.)</p> <p>

***
by Allison Smith for Gotham Gazette
 @GothamGazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="https://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2021/february/rockaway-atlantis-prj.jpg" alt="rockaway atlantis prj" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>Coastline protections (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Eight leading Democratic candidates for New York City mayor have shared their visions and strategies for prioritizing the city’s hundreds of miles of coastline as part of their climate change and economic recovery plans and in response to a survey conducted by Waterfront Alliance, a coalition of activists, businesses, and organizations, in partnership with the Rise to Resilience coalition.</p> <p>The candidates —&nbsp;Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Maya Wiley, and Andrew Yang — committed to various actions and solutions on a range of salient topics, from preparing against rising sea levels and extreme weather, ensuring resiliency investments and infrastructure, including for the city’s most vulnerable and historically marginalized populations, to building green infrastructure and spurring job growth in green and blue industries.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Although survey results, which Gotham Gazette previewed before their Tuesday release, showed that candidates broadly agreed that the city’s 520 miles of waterfront will play an instrumental role in the post-pandemic economic recovery, responses revealed sharp differences among candidates in terms of how they would actualize their visions for the city’s shoreline and waterways.</p> <p>The mayoral candidates were in part responding to the <a href="https://waterfrontalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Waterfront_Alliance_Mayoral_Platform-1.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Waterfront and Resilience Platform for the Next Mayor of New York City</a> put out earlier this year by Waterfront Alliance and Rise to Resilience, and they will also have the opportunity to build upon their survey responses on May 14, during the annual Waterfront Conference, where they’ll participate in the Waterfront Alliance’s “Mayoral Town Hall.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“We want New Yorkers to know where candidates stand on critical, sometimes overlooked priorities such as coastal resilience, equitable public access, and a maritime industry that is adopting new industries like offshore wind,” said Cortney Koenig Worrall, president and CEO of the Waterfront Alliance, in a statement. “We encourage candidates to communicate their strategies, commit to action and solutions, and embrace this moment as unlike any other the City has faced due to climate change. COVID-19 and the climate disasters that the country endured in just the last 12 months show us that business as usual is no longer an option. We all need to be informed, and the next mayor committed, so that together we can steer New York City and the region to a healthier, more equitable, and prosperous future.”&nbsp;</p> <p>According to a series of Twitter polls from Waterfront Alliance, many New Yorkers want increased climate resiliency investments and infrastructure projects along the waterfront. Respondents also care about waterfront access and recreation, including more urban beaches.&nbsp;</p> <p>In their survey responses, the Democratic mayoral candidates —&nbsp;competing ahead of the June primary — unanimously agreed to accelerate the implementation of infrastructure upgrades through an inclusive five-borough plan that would place emphasis on protection from climate change and rising sea levels for the city’s most vulnerable communities. But they proposed different strategies to varying degrees of specificity for enacting such comprehensive resiliency.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I believe we need to accelerate progress on major resiliency infrastructure projects, such as Staten Island’s South Shore Seawall and the range of onshore resiliency projects contemplated by the Army Corps HATS study,” said Stringer, who also called for the completion of “Sandy-era projects.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Stringer, one of few candidates who has put out a detailed resiliency and climate plan, criticized the city for failing to make sufficient inroads to embed resilience into its infrastructure plans, citing ongoing projects that would undermine protection against climate change risk. “We cannot pretend to be making progress on building a more resilient city if we allow projects like the redevelopment of Staten Island’s Graniteville wetlands to go ahead,” he said. “I am dismayed the project is going ahead and as a result Staten Island will be more exposed to the next storm, less able to cope with intense rainfall, and all the poorer for losing an area of great beauty.”</p> <p>Garcia emphasized wetlands restoration in her call for more green infrastructure developments. “We will expand bluebelt stormwater management strategies to other flood-prone parts of the city, including southeast Queens, and restore wetlands to serve as a natural buffer to protect our waterfront communities,” she said. “We will implement neighborhood-based resilience strategies to storms, flooding and heat waves that adapt to the unique needs and risks of each neighborhood.”</p> <p>Yang pledged to invest in “new flood protection projects along the city's waterfront” and support “rapid completion of existing efforts like the construction of dunes in the Far Rockaways.” He would address “heat islands” by “improving accessibility of the city’s cooling centers” and “ensuring that NYCHA residents have access to air conditioners.”</p> <p>Citing his experience leading the federal response to Hurricane Sandy, Donovan said he will “embed resilience into all city infrastructure investments and prioritize multi-use and nature-based solutions.” He also promised infrastructure improvements that will support long-term resilience, such as “investing in stormwater management and renewable energy.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Donovan added, “We will take stock of existing plans that have been stalled during the current administration, and address institutional and funding barriers that have historically slowed progress.”</p> <p>McGuire pointed to crucial infrastructure along the waterfront. “With airports, marine transfer facilities, and transportation hubs all close to the water, a major storm surge could wreak havoc on the City’s infrastructure, so I will advocate for enhanced preparedness,” he said. McGuire also proposed to revamp NYC Ferry. “The ferry system has not been effectively serving residents and has been increasingly more expensive to manage,” he said. “NYC Ferry has consistently lagged in ridership due to bad scheduling and routes. Diverting people to the ferries, a clean form of transportation, would have beneficial environmental effects.”&nbsp;</p> <p>McGuire also pledged to “focus on Sandy-impacted neighborhoods” when developing resilient and sustainable infrastructure.</p> <p>As part of her $3 billion New Deal New York plan to spend city capital dollars to build infrastructure and create jobs, Wiley pledged to implement “disaster response mechanisms” that would “build a network of community-driven mutual aid organizations,” providing “timely relief and urgent communication in the wake of climate disasters. Her plan would invest in solar and wind power generation, resilient energy grid infrastructure, energy storage systems, and more.&nbsp;</p> <p>Wiley and Morales emphasized green solutions for infrastructure needs in NYCHA and affordable housing, including decarbonization. Wiley’s plan designates $2 billion of investment in “a climate-resilient NYCHA.” Morales also called for “ecosystem-based approaches using natural infrastructure like urban forestry, parks, and green spaces, and conventional infrastructure like sea-walls, circular economy and waste reduction systems.”</p> <p>Stringer also voiced support for the federal Green New Deal for NYCHA public housing, which would implement green infrastructure for NYCHA buildings and is sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.&nbsp;</p> <p>Adams flexed various initiatives he spearheaded as Brooklyn Borough President as models he would expand to address climate change as mayor. For example, his Sandy Recovery Task Force created a portal that updated impacted communities on the progress of recovery work; providing data in real-time, Adams noted, is crucial for combating climate threats. He also cited his partnership with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative and WEDG Training sessions he has hosted, both of which advanced ideas to create resilient and functional waterfronts, saying he would “make these visions a reality.”</p> <p>Donovan, Yang, and Wiley said they are prepared to work with federal and state agencies to advance their infrastructure goals, while Stringer said he would galvanize New York’s congressional delegation “to support new classes of ships, new storage, and warehouse facilities.”</p> <p>On expanding and democratizing green and waterfront space, most candidates pledged to invest in the Parks and Recreation budget, though candidates did not disclose how large those investments would be. They proposed starkly different ideas for addressing disparities in open space access and differed on areas in the city where they would target their efforts.&nbsp;</p> <p>Donovan, Garcia, and Adams suggested revamping pedestrian walkways, as well as bike and bus lanes to varying degrees.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I pledge to create a network of pedestrian and micro-mobility corridors that better connect greenways with each other,” said Donovan.&nbsp;</p> <p>Adams called for the immediate expansion of Citi Bike “to all corners of New York City” by “allocating capital funds to fully build out a network that can fill the last-mile gap from transit stations to the waterfront open spaces and ferry network.”</p> <p>Garcia said she would “strengthen bus, bike and pedestrian transportation networks to increase access to existing parkland along Jamaica Bay, including the new Shirley Chisholm State Park, to provide much needed open space access to residents of Central and eastern Brooklyn.”</p> <p>Adams and Garcia honed in on historic barriers to waterfront access and infrastructure. “Over the long-term we must recapture lost land from Robert Moses era highway projects that have cut off communities from the waterfront,” said Adams. “Projects like the West Side Highway, which was not rebuilt when it collapsed, and the re-envisioning of the Sheridan Expressway are projects that should be modeled across New York City to bring communities back to the shoreline.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“We should explore strategies to reduce these barriers both visually and geographically and improve connections between waterfront neighborhoods and the shoreline,” said Garcia. “The project in the Bronx to tear down the Sheridan Expressway and rebuild it as a waterfront boulevard is a good case study for reestablishing these linkages.”</p> <p>“I will make sure that city agencies adhere to the requirements of the Environmental Justice Policy Bill as we plan for and deploy capital for parks, recreational facilities, transportation facilities, and other environmental projects,” said Yang. Most of his response focused on funding, saying he would allocate funds from the city’s capital budget, as well as secure funding from the federal government, rather than specific ideas he would implement, but Yang did pledge to “build parks in all neighborhoods.”</p> <p>Although McGuire said he would “focus on accessible open spaces, especially in marginalized areas,” including “additional park spaces, playgrounds, and outdoor learning centers along the waterfront,” he was vague on further details. He voiced praise for the proposed Manhattan beach, as well as The High Line, adding he “would look into further improvements.”</p> <p>Stringer was vague at times in his response, as well, saying he would work to “better support community stewardship of natural areas and allow for acquisition of new space,” but did not expand further.&nbsp;</p> <p>Morales said she would “develop a thematic Green Participatory Budgeting Program to democratize the distribution and administration of public funds and program development.” She also pledged to “expand Green Zones and public EcoDistricts into historically abandoned waterfront communities” in addition to funding park maintenance and beautification improvements.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We must ensure that our waterfront does not become just a playground for wealthy New Yorkers and remains open, accessible and welcoming to all New Yorkers,” said Garcia. “I support investments to create or reimagine waterfront open space in three areas: Staten Island’s North Shore, the South Bronx and along the Harlem River in Upper Manhattan and the western Bronx.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Wiley said she would focus on Bronx and Queens in her efforts to expand the city’s green space, especially regarding “historically marginalized communities.” She pledged to partner with the Waterfront Alliance’s Access for All Task Force as part of her larger effort to ensure equitable funding and maintenance for parks and waterfront areas.&nbsp;</p> <p>Wiley and Donovan both focused on the lack of flood protection for Hunts Point, the city’s food distribution center.&nbsp;</p> <p>“East Harlem and Hunts Point, both major flood zones, have seen almost no investment in flood protection,” said Wiley, and added that the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project will protect part of lower Manhattan for an estimated $1.45 billion.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Donovan promised, “We will expand our use of tools like physical and social vulnerability mapping to further understand how factors like income and race play into climate risk, and prioritize investment in communities that need it most.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Asked how they would provide climate justice solutions to vulnerable and historically marginalized populations, candidates honed in on distinct issues and solutions.&nbsp;</p> <p>Stringer, Yang, and Wiley decried high asthma rates across the city, especially in the Bronx. Stringer and Yang pledged to adhere to the current emissions reductions targets as established in Local Law 97.</p> <p>Stringer promised to power the city with 100% renewable energy by 2035. Other key milestones as part of his climate plan include: close half of all city peaker plants, which pollute low-income communities, by 2028 and the rest by 2035, stop the use of polluting number four heating oil by 2025, and double the solar tax abatement to jumpstart solar installations.</p> <p>McGuire said he would also offer tax credits and other financial incentives to increase solar installations on roofs.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I will also take common sense steps to reduce carbon emissions and improve quality of life, like expanding the NYC CoolRoofs program,” said Yang. “I also support the creation of a Climate and Community Development Fund that subsidize wages and fund apprenticeship programs for workers from low-income communities and communities of color.” Yang also pledged to reduce the burden of waste processing and other environmental harms in low-income and historically marginalized communities, as well as pilot “green zones,” using Los Angeles as an example, which would prevent and reduce existing environmental burdens, target investment, and engage communities.&nbsp;</p> <p>Morales said, “I would set up a racial and social justice review committee to evaluate city policy and legislation for their justice impact.” She also pledged to “establish an environmental health commission to study and set recommendations on the impact of waste and pollution on marginalized communities in partnership with CUNY's school of medicine and environmental studies experts.”</p> <p>Similarly, Yang promised to establish an “environmental justice burden” review for all new developments, which would evaluate the impact on historically marginalized communities.&nbsp;</p> <p>Adams said he would “upgrade our electrical grid and transition our power source to wind and away from natural gas and to shore up our public housing stock,” investments which would be targeted at “our most vulnerable communities.” He cited his experience advocating the “transitioning of electric MTA buses to prioritize areas like East New York and Brownsville” as an example of his success leading such green infrastructure improvements.&nbsp;</p> <p>Stringer, Donovan, Wiley, and Garcia voiced support for the Renewable Rikers plan, which would transform the island into a renewable energy hub.&nbsp;</p> <p>“My administration will work with stakeholders citywide, including community members that have been impacted by the Rikers system and residents that have historically been left out of planning processes to ensure this island becomes a cornerstone of community development and a just transition for uses like green energy, composting, wastewater treatment to provide clean water, and possibly even new public space,” said Donovan.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I support investments to improve air quality by investing in clean freight solutions and electric trucks for last-mile delivery,” Garcia added.&nbsp;</p> <p>Candidates also pitched ideas for spurring job growth in a post-covid green and blue economy.&nbsp;</p> <p>Wiley pledged to create 42,210 local green jobs over three years.&nbsp;</p> <p>McGuire said he will “invest in green energy projects” that “unlock permanent job opportunities,” citing “the development of a wind energy hub in South Brooklyn and the North Shore of Staten Island” as positive examples.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“I will seek to revitalize and remake our ports into hubs of sustainability that can host new manufacturing centers for wind turbines and create green jobs,” said Stringer. He added that he would “double down on investments at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and will offer support to staging areas at Arthur Kill to help make New York City a regional wind powerhouse.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Donovan spotlighted his plan’s proposed NYC Climate Corps, which would employ “young people to work on clean energy and resilience projects through nonprofit and local government grants,” he said. Additionally, Donovan plans to incorporate sustainability education into K-12 public education to prepare young people to become members of the green economy.&nbsp;</p> <p>Similarly, Adams promised to “create a pipeline of education training from middle school, high school, college to educate our young people in this field [the green energy technologies of the future].”</p> <p>Yang pledged to invest in offshore wind facilities, as well as the “resilience and sustainability of ports and maritime infrastructure.”</p> <p>“We will emphasize smart industrial growth that utilizes NYC’s strong position in rail and maritime shipping, including growth of 21st century industries like renewable energy and green manufacturing, and protect and create good-paying manufacturing jobs in neighborhoods like Hunts Point, Williamsburg and Sunset Park,” said Garcia.</p> <p>“We must reimagine and rebuild our public institutions to rise to the challenges of climate change and hundreds of years of environmental injustices,” said Morales. “Major investments in the Blue economy are critical to addressing both of these challenges.”</p> <p>(Carlos Menchaca was also surveyed, but has since bowed out of the mayoral race.)</p> <p>

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by Allison Smith for Gotham Gazette
 @GothamGazette

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