Candidate for City Council – District 40
How will you get New Yorker’s back to work?
Getting New Yorkers back to work means getting folks vaccinated, plain and simple. As a city, our #1 priority must be getting shots in the arms of people as quickly as possible. I understand and recognize the fact that our city relies on people being able to move into, out of, and around the city. The sooner people feel comfortable getting on subways and commuter rails, the sooner businesses and offices will reopen. The city should continue to increase its vaccination efforts, being sure to reach out to underserved communities and working to bring the vaccine to those who can not go out and get it.
Even as vaccinations increase, we need to ensure that we build a culture around businesses, offices, and transportation that make people feel safe. We need to partner with public health experts to ensure that all of these public and commercial spaces are being vigilant in their efforts to keep people safe. We should work with cutting edge architectural real estate firms to design strategies for healthier offices.
How will you make our city’s streets safer?
The NYPD reported 468 murders in 2020 after reporting just 319 murders in 2019, a rise of 46.7 percent. Last summer’s violent crime wave adversely impacted New Yorkers in significant, painful ways, even if no bodily harm occurred from them. This previous summer, my car was shot by stray bullets while it was parked on my block, so I have personal experience with how gun violence can impact an individual and their family, even for something relatively minor like a stray bullet that did not harm anyone.
The Attorney General has reported the overwhelming majority of guns being used in crimes in our city and state are illegal and from outside New York State. While we wait for the Federal government to pass common-sense gun violence prevention measures, such as universal background checks, red flag laws, and an assault weapon ban, there are tangible steps our city can take to make our neighborhoods safer. NYC needs to aggressively prosecute the individuals and groups who are responsible for bringing these weapons in that are harming our communities. Additionally, I’m a staunch supporter of gun buyback programs: the fewer guns there are on our streets, the safer our communities, particularly Black and Brown ones, will be. Lastly, we need to ensure that the NYPD is focused on violent crime, rather than wasting valuable time and energy on crimes such as turnstile hopping.
Improving our public schools is another common-sense solution we can employ to lower the crime rate. By giving our public schools the funding that they deserve, our youth will be more employable and less inclined towards turning towards lives of crime.
New York City has to adopt much-needed police reform, but we must also recognize the role that the police can play in deterring violent crime as well as catching those responsible for it.
How will you address the city’s increasing budget deficit?
Thanks to the tireless efforts of elected officials and activists all across the country, $6 Billion in federal aid is on its way. This will help to cover a significant portion of the city’s major deficits. But as we learned under the previous administration, we cannot take federal help for granted. As the city emerges from COVID-19, we need to rebuild our economy with a focus on the future. Particular attention needs to be paid towards ensuring that our tourism and hospitality industries get back on their feet. Without the billions of dollars they bring in, the city will lose significant tax revenues and thousands of workers will continue to struggle.
Speaking of workers, we are poised to be able to employ thousands of people in the trades if we invest in infrastructure. Our subways, roads, and airports are all in various states of disrepair, but it appears that we may be on the brink of a once-in-a-lifetime investment in them. Our city will be stronger and coffers fuller if people can easily get into and around New York.
In the longer term, we must build a 21st century workforce by investing in technological education in our schools. As the ESL and Tech coordinator at PS 6 in Brooklyn, I have seen firsthand the value that putting tech in schools can have on young people. These kids have worlds upon worlds of potential. They see problems in completely different terms than older generations, and find solutions we would never see. The best way to ensure that New York can afford to distribute a high level of municipal services is to ensure that our next generation is educated— as a teacher that is at the foundation of my being.
How will you stop the exodus of residents from New York City?
I have full faith that people who left NYC will be returning post-COVID. There’s no city in the world like New York, and I’m sure folks who left the five boroughs have recognized this. Over the past 20 years, New York City has experienced a pandemic, a hurricane, a financial crisis and a terrorist attack. I am absolutely confident we will be able to overcome our current struggles. New York City is the greatest city in the world, and the current exodus of residents leaving will pass.
District 40 has been hit hard by COVID-19. In my ZIP code alone (11226), more than 300 people have died from COVID. Through no fault of their own, many in our District have lost hours or even their jobs during this pandemic. We need concrete proposals to offer these folks financial support, which is why I support tax cuts for people who need it and economic stimulus to generate financial growth.
New Yorkers will return back home once we know that the subways are safe and our cultural institutions such as Broadway, live sports , and museums are open to the public at 100% capacity. I support moving to fully reopen as expeditiously as possible when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we must continue to increase the number of people allowed to attend these events in a safe, aggressive manner.
How will you bring back tourism?
Tourism is a crucial sector of our economy. Not only does it bring in billions of dollars, but it employs thousands of people. Getting tourists back to NYC will help keep roofs over families. Therefore, restoring tourism must be a key goal of the next City Council and Mayor.
My District in Central Brooklyn borders Prospect Park. The park welcomes locals like me but also plenty of tourists, and we in Brooklyn miss having folks come not only to the park but also the Brooklyn Museum and the Botanical gardens. There’s plenty I miss about walking through the lush greenery on sunny days— the smell of family barbeques, the sounds of kids learning to ride their bikes, and of course the dogwatching, to name a few.
There is nothing like live theater, especially in New York! In Brooklyn and beyond, we absolutely must get playhouses full again. With Broadway’s lights dimmed, New York is the arts capital of the world without a stage. This summer, we must take advantage of warmer weather and encourage outdoor events such as plays, movie screenings, and food festivals.
No matter what we do, it may be difficult to expect travelers to arrive in New York en masse in the near future. Therefore, we must encourage New Yorkers to be tourists within their own city. We should expand successful initiatives like restaurant week and Summer streets to get people out and about, while also building on new ideas. Outdoor dining was and continues to be a hit. We should build upon the model to empower outdoor vendors as well. Doing this will allow us to keep New York as the shopping capital of the world.
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