(Voter Guide) Karen Blatt – District Leader, 65th AD, Part A

Head Shot 1A (2)

This candidate statement is part of The Lo-Down’s 2017 Voter Guide. To view the main page and to learn about other candidates on the ballot in New York City’s Sept. 12 Democratic Primary, please click here

Karen Blatt (Incumbent)
Residence: Seward Park Cooperative for 18 years
Website: trumanclubdems.org
Office: Female District Leader, 65th Assembly District, Part A
Current Occupation: Co-Executive Director of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment

Why are you seeking this office? 

For many years I have been engaged in community service on the Lower East Side and I am enthusiastic about preserving and improving our Lower East Side community. Our schools and long-standing institutions; Henry Street Settlement, Educational Alliance, United Jewish Council and NORC have built the foundation of this diverse community and it is vital that they continue to thrive so that the needs of all our residents are met. I believe our diversity is our strength, and I want to work with my neighbors to build a community that serves the needs of a broad range of residents including seniors, working families and youngsters. As the incumbent Female District Leader since 2014, I have had experience overseeing a number of local elections. I have deep respect for the election process and I am devoted to safeguarding the constitutional rights of all voters. I am committed to ensuring that each and every one of my constituents has a voice.

What are your professional qualifications for this position? 

As a professional Urban Planner, my entire career has been dedicated to public service. I have held positions with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, the NYC Department of City Planning and the NYS Legislature which make me uniquely qualified for the position of District Leader. In addition to my extensive knowledge of NYC and NYS government, I have also been engaged in community service on the Lower East Side for the last decade. As a Member of Community Board 3, I participated in negotiations that helped shape guidelines for the Essex Crossing Mixed Use Development. I successfully advocated for the inclusion of open space, commercial uses and community facilities so that the entire community would benefit from the development. I also serve on the Transportation Committee of Community Board 3, often utilizing my skills as a traffic planner as we seek creative solutions to reduce the traffic problems on Grand Street.

Top Legislative Priority: What is the first piece of legislation that you would advocate for if elected?: 

More state funding of mass transit is my priority. The entire state benefits from our mass transit system and must invest in it. The MTA is a state controlled agency and they must be held accountable for keeping the system in a state of good repair and making sure it is prepared for the increased development and population. We should not have long wait times for overcrowded buses and subways.

Equal pay for women is another priority that I advocate for. The gender pay gap is unacceptable and should be eliminated. The City Council should require employers to be transparent about salaries and provide access to affordable and dependable childcare.

I am also deeply concerned with the growing support for BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel) and will advocate for the expansion of the anti-BDS law. The law must prevent BDS advocates from using State-funded organizations to advance this form of anti-semitism.

In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue faced by the people who live on the Lower East Side? How would you deal with this issue as an elected official?

The Lower East Side is a very desirable place to live. As a result developers are looking to build on every available site. Our community has become overwhelmed with construction sites and all of the congestion, dirt and noise that comes with them. The construction is expected to continue for years to come, yet our infrastructure is not prepared to absorb all of the new development. We do not have enough schools seats, hospital beds or parks to support the increase in population.

The City’s Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) process needs to be overhauled so that developers are held accountable for compromising our infrastructure and impacting our quality of life. I will collaborate with the community and city agencies to troubleshoot areas where there is congestion, ensure public safety and improve our quality of life.

Education:

NYU Wagner School of Public Service, Masters in Urban Planning

Yeshiva University Stern College for Women, BA in History and American Studies

Key Endorsements:

Margaret Chin, Council member District 1
The Jewish Press
Ari Gold, Performer and LGBT Activist
Harry S. Truman Democratic Club
Rabbi Zvi Romm, Bialystoker Synagogue (for identification purposes only)

Affiliated Organizations: 

Community Board 3 Member, former Chair of the Transportation Committee
Essex Crossing Task Force
Harry S. Truman Democratic Club
Riders Alliance
Stanton Street Synagogue