Our city has been decimated by Covid, and while all of us have suffered, working class communities and communities of color have been hardest. This is due to uneven access to health care, the racialized nature of work, pre-existing health disparities, and dense living conditions. To truly protect from our city from Covid and future crises, we need an intersectional approach.
Covid and Essential Workers
For the past decade, I’ve seen small businesses that make our community vibrant close up shop, only to be replaced by a high-end retailer or national chain; or they simply remain an empty storefront. The pandemic has worsened this crisis. On the Council, I’ll fight for our small businesses, advocating for policies to address ridiculously high commercial rents that favor chains and luxury developers over our mom-and-pop enterprises. I’ll ensure local businesses have access to grants, low-interest loans, and the support services they need to thrive while they continue to serve and employ our neighbors.
I will reintroduce and support the Small Business Job Survival Act. The Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) is a bill that would:
I will also work to pass Commercial Rent Control. Any commercial rent control bill I would sponsor would need to include:
Provide Financial Help to Small Businesses
The New York City public school system should be the envy of the nation, but failed leadership, bad policy decisions and executive waste now pit communities against each other, with educational success determined by your zip code. As a parent and youth coach I am committed to working with parents and caretakers in our community to get our teachers the resources they need, while ensuring our education system is fair and equitable to all our community’s children.
I also recognize that a child’s educational outcomes are dependent on so many factors, including housing, nutrition, healthcare, and their parents’ employment and income. Our children’s education should be centered in community. Fighting to secure affordable housing, good jobs, access to meals, and healthcare will positively impact learning for our kids.
Culturally Responsive Education
We can have integrated schools, but if we don’t change who works at schools, and what gets taught in schools, we haven’t truly solved the problem:
School to Prison Pipeline
Accessibility in Education
I believe housing is a human right. Our leadership has failed in many ways, but none more so than the affordability crisis that our city faces. Everyday New Yorkers are finding themselves rent burdened, while others are suddenly unhoused thanks to the fallout from COVID-19. Even in neighborhoods like ours, rent continues to climb out of reach for middle class folks. Before COVID-19 hit, 29% of households in our district were severely rent burdened. I’m a renter myself, with a husband and three kids sharing a two-bedroom Kew Gardens apartment, and our ability to buy a home here feels further away than ever.
What we need is truly affordable housing, not more development that leads to half-empty, overpriced condominiums that serve as investment properties while thousands of families get pushed out. Having earned an urban planning degree, I understand how we need to reform zoning laws, prioritize community input, and enact policies that level the playing field for renters, and make it possible for working families to lay permanent roots in their communities.
Community Planning and 197-a
Section 197-a of the City Charter allows community boards to propose community plans to guide the growth, development and improvement of a specific community. However, without adequate resources for community boards to create community plans, and without any resolution that makes these plans binding, only 12 such community plans have been adopted since 1989. These plans are a great way for the community to have self-determination and democratic control over their own neighborhood. As such we’d like to:
Make ULURP More Transparent
Fundamental changes need to happen with the ULURP process to increase democratic control and accountability, and ensure equity and transparency.
ADU’s and Cellar Conversions
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) are a cheap way to create new affordable housing units all over the city while also providing revenue to homeowners. Not allowing new ADU conversions doesn’t make them go away, it just means they are less safe and creates an underground, unregulated market that hurts tenants and homeowners alike. I fully sign on to the Base Campaigns Blueprint for Basement apartments (which I outline below):
Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities are out of control, mass transit is in a perpetual state of disrepair, and our transit system fails at being accessible for the New Yorkers who need it most. We can approach transit from a city planning lens to increase safety, allow communities and businesses to thrive, expand our options in transit deserts, increase accessibility and fix mass transit. Better transit helps everyone; it alleviates traffic congestion, reduces our greenhouse gas emissions, allows our air to be cleaner and provides citywide health benefits.
Cyclist and Pedestrian Safety
Work with New York State to:
Our elders deserve to be cared for so that they can age in place here in their communities, where they have laid their roots and built so much for us. I will fight to ensure they have the resources and services that they need to live their golden years in dignity and with care.
I worry more than ever about my children growing up on an uninhabitable planet, and I know the science is loud and clear that we need to act urgently. The climate crisis is also a racial justice issue; communities of color shoulder a disproportionate load of the city’s noxious industries, suffer from disproportionate climate related-health impacts, and are most vulnerable to extreme weather events, all while contributing less greenhouse gases than wealthier, whiter communities. Any climate proposals I work towards will address economic, social and racial injustices through an environmental justice lens. Addressing our climate emergency is a vehicle to create new Green Collar jobs and affordable housing, support local businesses, and build a better, reliable, and safer transportation system.
Reducing our Green House Gas Emissions
Water Rights and Combined Sewage Overflows
City Planning for Equity and Resiliency
In NYC, as across the nation, our policing system is broken and resistant to any meaningful reform. This year’s smoke-and-mirrors city budget promised to shift resources to where they are truly needed, but fell far short. Healthy communities are safe communities. It’s time we prioritize our schools, healthcare, housing, social services, and the needs of our city’s workers, while building a future where solutions are rooted in community care and justice.
A budget is nothing if not a statement of priorities, a moral document. We spend $1 on policing, compared to $0.01 on workforce investment. Our priorities are wrong. When we say yes to one thing, we say no to something else. A yes to a bloated policing budget of $11 billion a year is a no to things like supportive housing, education, sanitation healthcare, and so much more. It’s time to invest in healthy, thriving communities and addressing root causes.
Simply put: if throwing more and more money at policing was the answer, our problems would be fixed by now. It’s time to build a care economy and a better future for all.
Rightsize the Police Budget
Reinvest in Our Communities
Overhaul the Civilian Complaint Review Board
The Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) has been ineffective because it lacks teeth. For example, out of 5,000 police misconduct complaints (which included things such as harassment, physical violence, intimidation and racial profiling) in 2017 only ⅓ were even investigated, nearly ¾ of the disciplinary action recommendations were thrown out, and 0 officers were fired. To make the CCRB effective, we need to:
Support Protest Movements
Reform the scope of policing
Institute Better Practices
Work to Decriminalize
Close Rikers and #No New Jails
Over the last few years, as white supremacist forces have been emboldened across the country, we have seen an alarming spike in antisemitism, islamophobia and anti-asian hate crimes in NYC. In 2019 alone, antisemitic violence accounted for 242 out of the 420 hate crimes reported, which is an 86 percent rise since 2015. My commitment and vision for combatting white supremacy perfectly aligns with the vision of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. They write: “Our security is inextricably linked to the safety of all oppressed people, and that our shared joy and power is dependent on all of us working together to create a world free from antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, and other forms of bigotry.”
Strengthen Community Responses
I entirely oppose neoliberal economic measures that seek to prioritize the needs of business over the needs of workers. I will always put the needs of workers at the center of my policy making. I will stand with unions and join picket lines and striking workers. I plan to do everything in my power to improve the material conditions of working class New Yorkers.
Immigrants power our city, have kept our city afloat during the pandemic, and are the backbone of our history and culture. Queens is the borough of immigrants, and District 29 is a district of immigrants, yet we haven’t done enough to protect our families — many of whom have been subject to increased hatred, discrimination and fear over the last four years.
Make NYC ICE Free
Increase Immigration Services
The city has a lot of inherently ableist infrastructure and practices. Everything from the way our public meetings are held, how our streets are designed and the layout of our schools all suffer from a lack of accessibility. I plan to partner with the most impacted residents to work on reimagining how our city can function, to ensure accessibility for all.
Accessibility in Education
As a Queer mother of three, protecting the LBTQIA+ community is a priority for me. Our rights are human rights, and all issues are LGBTQIA+ issues. Changing the scope of policing and halting the borough based jails plan will help all communities who are disproportionately criminalized for their identities. Expanding access to the NYC Cares program will alleviate unequal access to health care.
In addition to the baseline policy proposals above, I would want to:
When our oldest child was born, I could only afford six weeks of maternity leave, and had to return to work before I was fully healed from a complicated childbirth. This was physically and emotionally traumatic. My husband had just one week of parental leave, which deprived him of critical bonding time with our son, and me of much needed help while I was recovering. That is why I support a minimum of three months paid parental leave for new parents, regardless of gender or biological connection to the child. After I gave birth to my second of three, I had to leave my job to take care of my children because childcare costs were too high. I was lucky to have a partner who could support our family while I raised our babies and earned my Master’s degree. But we barely scraped by, living paycheck to paycheck and hand to mouth. I support funding universal childcare, so that parents of all genders can work and know that their children are safe and cared for.
I believe that our liberation is bound. We aren’t free until women get equal pay for equal work; until rape, domestic violence and sexual harrassments are no longer present realities; and until gender is no longer militantly policed as a binary institution.
Democracy is not a spectator sport. We must do everything we can to give power to the people, facilitate widespread participation in our elections and make public engagement easy and accessible.
After nearly a year of a pandemic, the need for equitable park access is more important than ever. Too often we see open space being taken up for private purposes by luxury developments in bad rezoning deals. Too often we see working class neighborhoods with far less access to parks and open space than wealthier neighborhoods. Too often we see parks in deteriorating conditions due to a lack of prioritization. There are many models through out the city and country to alleviate these issues. All it takes is the political will.
I believe fresh, healthy, affordable food is a fundamental human right. We often use the word food deserts, but this is a misnomer. Desserts are naturally occurring phenomena; there is nothing natural about the uneven distribution of food access throughout our city. We need to work to end food insecurity, prioritize workers’ rights, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
Arts and culture are what makes NYC, NYC. I am particularly aware of the ways that the pandemic has affected artists. Many artists, musicians and creative professionals work gig to gig, and have been out of a steady income for a very long time. I am also aware that it is arts and culture that kept many of us sane throughout the pandemic. We need to fully invest in the arts and pass commercial rent control to ensure our beloved art spaces don’t shutter while also working to take care of our artists and cultural producers.
I find the inhumane treatment of animals for profit heart-wrenching, and fully intend to use the power of this office to pass legislation that facilitates peaceful and harmonious cohabitation. I want to root out animal cruelty where it exists in NYC, and I support laws and practices that recognize the dignity and rights of animals in NYC.