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.
Margaret Chin (Incumbent)
Residence: Financial District, more than 30 years
Office: City Council District 1
Why are you seeking this office?
As an elected representative of our communities, I am proud of my progressive track record fighting for working families, seniors, and everyone else struggling to get by. In the City Council, I passed legislation to increase fines for tenant harassment and earlier this month I passed a bill to end the practice of harassment of tenants by construction. I helped create hundreds of units of affordable housing for low-income people and seniors and successfully negotiated to keep 800 units of housing affordable in the Village and the Lower East Side.
As the first Asian American woman elected to the City Council, I expanded paid sick leave and won recognition of Asian Lunar New Year as an official school holiday. After securing the opening of two new schools in lower Manhattan, I was happy to help announce another new school that will alleviate overcrowding and bring down class sizes.
Our small businesses need help. That is why I passed legislation creating the Office of the Small Business Advocate to help respond and address to the concerns of small business owners. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, I connected small businesses with the resources they needed to rebuild. I am also leading the fight against big-box retail.
But we have more work to do. With over 200,000 seniors waiting for affordable housing, we must continue our efforts. And as Councilwoman, I want to use my experience not only to increase the availability of affordable rentals, but also to protect and expand middle class homeownership in lower Manhattan as well.
I will continue to fight against the three proposed mega-towers that threaten the existence of the Two Bridges neighborhood – including pushing for the passage of my legislation that will fast track the approval of a Text Amendment to ensure real public input and transparency.
And as the representative of the Lower East Side community that was cheated out of a prized healthcare asset, I will never give up until we take back Rivington House.
I have a proven track record and the experience to make my promises a reality. I am grateful for the opportunity to represent my neighbors, and if re-elected, I will never stop working hard on their behalf.
What are your professional qualifications for this position?
Before becoming Council Member, I spent decades fighting for our community as a member of Community Boards 1 and 3, and as a board member of the New York Immigration Coalition, the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, and several other nonprofits. I am proud to be a co-founder of Asian Americans for Equality, where I worked for 11 years to preserve and build affordable housing, and to increase access to government services for immigrants, low income and working families. I also worked for 14 years at LaGuardia Community College’s Division of Adult and Continuing Education helping my students to learn English, get a college degree and build a better life for their families.
Top Legislative Priority: What is the first piece of legislation that you would introduce if elected?:
If the Small Business Jobs Survival Act is not passed by the full City Council this year, I will push to have the bill reintroduced in the next Council session. Also, any candidate for Speaker will have to commit to a City Council hearing on this vital piece of legislation in order to gain my support.
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?
I believe the most pressing issue is overdevelopment. Unfortunately, many of these projects such as the Extel Tower on the former Pathmark site are being built “as-of-right” with no Community Board input or City Council approval. The Text Amendment I plan to submit with the Borough President to protect Two Bridges is one important step. I will continue to support Community Board 3’s neighborhood rezoning process, and I will work to end the practice of building “as-of-right” that does not account for the negative effects these luxury condo projects have on our schools, infrastructure and transportation network.
Bronx High School of Science
City College of New York, B.S. in Education
Public Advocate Tish James
Smith Houses TA President Aixa Torres
Central Labor Council
Progressive Action for Lower Manhattan (PALM)
Make the Road NY
Working Families Party
Financial Summary: Campaign Finance Board
Video Statement/NYC Votes