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.
Residence: Lifelong resident of the Lower East Side
Office: City Council District 2
Current Occupation: full-time candidate. Most recently I served as Legislative Director in the City Council for Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.
Why are you seeking this office?
I have been a lifelong resident of the Lower East Side, born and raised in the district I seek to represent. Together with neighbors and local leaders, I have been a part of successful organizing efforts around social justice and quality of life issues that include housing preservation, education equality, criminal justice reform, small business survival, and disaster preparedness. The partnerships I have formed and cultivated with advocacy groups, tenant leaders and service organizations will be with me in the Council, as we continue to strive to meet the diverse and challenging needs of our communities. I have been asked by neighbors and allies to run because I work collaboratively, and always operate with the facts. We have a strong history of progressive leadership and local movements that have kept our neighborhoods authentic and resilient. I am running because I respect and honor this history and understand the nuances of every neighborhood in the district. I am experienced, compassionate, approachable, trusted and have the best grasp on the responsibilities and demands of this position. I want the residents here to be proud of their representative and I am ready to bring a new energy to our environment that makes government accessible and always puts the people first.
My track record of accomplishment has been achieved through coalition-building and together we have been able to expand affordable housing, enhance senior services, improve school programming and equity, and help preserve mom-and-pop businesses. During this time of Trump, we need someone who has a history of standing up to powerful forces. As a homegrown leader who has battled big industries, my experience professionally and personally has brought me into many spaces to understand the realities of everyday people and politics at every level. I know I am the candidate best equipped to represent every resident and diverse community in District 2, my home and where I hope to age in place.
What are your professional qualifications for this position?
Over 15 years, I have developed an unmatched expertise in both policy and direct service.
My biggest accomplishments have come through advocating for more investment and infrastructure in Lower Manhattan as a volunteer on local campaigns, through my commitment as a Director of Programs and Services at Good Old Lower East Side, a local nonprofit, and while working in the CIty Council. Over the years and through coalition work, we have brought over 500 new units of permanently affordable, mixed-income housing; created space for a new public school; and raised hundred of millions of dollars for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, which will create an accessible waterfront and protect families from future disasters.
Having a career that has spanned work in fields that include education and criminal justice, I have seen how public systems can further disenfranchise communities that are historically underserved. As Legislative Director for Councilmember Rosie Mendez, I helped craft legislation and supported projects to address these disparities and tackle issues that include homelessness and tenant harassment, healthful living conditions, the oversaturation of construction, disability rights, LGBTQ protections, animal rights, and to improve inefficiencies within city agencies.
With a background in organizing, I will work to give residents a voice in the process and expand on the skills I have in service and outreach to reach constituents in every demographic across the district.
Top Legislative Priority: What is the first piece of legislation that you would introduce if elected?:
There are a few bills currently in the Council that must be passed now and at the very least during the next legislative term including the Asthma Free Homes Act (Intro 385B) and regulation of what seems to be 24-hour construction (Intro 17). Another top legislative priority is passing the 21st Century version of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act to put power back into the hands of small business owners to negotiate fair leases in an imbalanced real estate market and promote retail diversity. I also want to work with the Department of Environmental Protection on the noise that adversely affects us in our neighborhoods.
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 most pressing issue facing our residents on the Lower East Side is affordability at all income levels. While working at Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), I organized tenants to fight displacement and advocate for resources that keep quality education, healthcare and food within reach. As a Council Member, I will fight for more city, state and federal funding to reduce New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) repair backlogs and address longstanding health, safety, accessibility and resiliency issues; will push for as close to 100% of new units built under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program to be permanently affordable; and will work with my colleagues to expedite city and state commitments to create supportive housing, which is a proven deterrent for homelessness. Tenants also face quality of life issues that include noise and transportation problems I hope to address once in office.
Education: Marist College B.A. in Communications and Journalism
Planned Parenthood of New York City
League of Conservation Voters of NYC
United Federation of Teachers
Make the Road Action
Stonewall Democratic Club of New York
Former Member, Community Board 3
Former Member, Bellevue Community Advisory Board Member, Good Old Lower East Side
Member, Coalition for a District Alternative
Financial Statement: Campaign Finance Board
Video Statement/NYC Votes