'If I Could Accomplish One Thing…' Council Hopefuls Pick a Single Goal

Apr. 29, 2021

The Trib asked the candidates running for City Council, District 1, in the June 22 Democratic primary to answer the following question within 250 words: 

If you could realistically accomplish one thing in your first two years in the Council, what would it be and how would you go about getting it done?


“Fund anti-hate crime initiatives”

I will fund anti-hate crime initiatives such as NYC Against Hate Initiative which was defunded in the 2021 City budget. In recent years, there has been a wave of hate violence across the City including anti-Semitic attacks, violence against LGBTQ community and an increased attack on Asian Americans. The reported numbers barely scratch the surface. A 2018 report from the NYC’s Commission on Human Rights found that 71 percent of “bias incidents” against Muslim, Arab, South Asian, Jewish and Sikh New Yorkers went unreported.   

The original coalition behind the NYC Against Hate Initiative was started by the Jews for Racial and Economic Justice along with eight other nonprofits, I will restore funding to the Initiative’s original members. The Initiative’s strategies include reporting hate incidents to non-profit and community-based organizations and training bystanders to intervene in a hate incident. If the attack turns violent, I strongly encourage bystanders to call 911. My office will have a designated staff member to liaison with non-profit and community-based organizations on this issue. When necessary, my office will connect victims with supportive services.   

I will look to fund organizations whose mission is to bring anti-bias education to young people. Our community needs to come together and educate our youth by instilling in them an appreciation and respect for differences because it really does take a village to raise a child.  


“Improve services to families and seniors”

As the city recovers from COVID-19 my priority is making sure Lower Manhattan is a community that people want to and are able to continue making their home. My focus will be major improvements to services for families and seniors in the next two years.

As Council Member, I would ensure that capital investments continue for schools in Lower Manhattan and that the proposed projects at schools including Millennium High School, Trinity School, and Harbor School stay on schedule. I will also advocate for resources for children in schools to recover from the impacts of this year, including increased mental health resources to respond to the trauma so many experienced. 

I would also work to maintain and expand funding for robust programming for seniors; isolation, food insecurity and lack of access to technology has hit older New Yorkers particularly hard. Specifically, I would encourage investment in comprehensive geriatric health care and mental health services and strengthen community programming that makes our neighborhoods safe and welcoming for those who are aging in place.

To accomplish these goals I will work with my colleagues in the City Council to prioritize investments during the budget allocation process, allocate my own discretionary funding, and monitor SCA closely on construction timeline and progress.



“Defend and expand affordable housing”

The affordable housing crisis has been a problem in NYC and the COVID pandemic exacerbated this crisis.  As Council Member, I will work diligently with colleagues at the Council, State and Federal levels to fight for resources to defend and expand affordable housing in Lower Manhattan. We need to preserve affordable rental units, dramatically improve the living conditions of NYCHA housings as well as identifying opportunities for affordable homeownership in our neighborhoods.

Among the solutions to increase affordable housing is the creation of nonprofit Community Land Trust (CLT).  The mission of this CLT is to create affordable home-ownership for low- and middle-income families in our community, to preserve the historic characteristics of our neighborhood and prevent legacy small property owners from being bought out by big developers.  This is a win, win, win solution and will hold off gentrification. CLTs have saved Cooper Square and other neighborhoods. I have been working with affordable housing advocates, small property owners, and community leaders to create a CLT in Lower Manhattan. The initiative received funding from the City Council last fiscal year for a feasibility study and other awareness programs.  

When I get to the City Council, it will be my priority in the first two years to fully fund CLT in Lower Manhattan to educate small property owners and renters.  I plan to work with fellow Council Members and colleagues at the state and federal level to provide resources, technical assistance as well as maximum funding to move the CLT initiative forward.


“Restore public safety”


Restoring public safety to all our neighborhoods is the most important task I will focus on as a council member. Asian-Americans have been under attack, the elderly are fearful on our street. Children, women, all New Yorkers need to feel safe, and be safe in our neighborhoods. 

Pandemic recovery is directly linked to public safety. We have lost over one third of small businesses in New York City in the past year and lower Manhattan neighborhoods have not been spared. Councilmembers must ensure that COVID Recovery funds are used to support the small businesses which make our neighborhoods unique, employ people, and keep our streets lively and safe. 

Supporting small businesses also supports women who have disproportionately lost jobs because of the Covid lockdown and school closures. 43% of small businesses in the city are owned by women and women have lost the largest share of the job market.

School reopening is critical for students and mothers. As a City council member I will continue to advocate for a full reopening of all our public schools with teachers in every classroom.


“Implement community-based land-use policy”


Implementing community-based land use policy is one of the many things I will accomplish if I am elected. Chinatown and the Lower East Side already have a rezoning plan, that with some updating, will be ready to be implemented immediately. Same with the FiDi Neighborhood Plan: Make Way for Lower Manhattan. The City Council has nearly absolute power over land use, which affects everything from schools, to affordable housing, to whether or not a new jail is built on White Street. A rezoning can take a long time, but with the trust of my neighbors, two years will be enough time to start to significantly alter the future of our district and make it a better place to live. 

We can finally break ground on flood protection using the money FEMA gave us, check the footprint of bigbox stores that force out our favorite mom and pops, get the two schools that were promised to us by developers at NYU and Essex Crossing, and stop the new jail from being constructed on White Street. Voters can hold me accountable to this platform, and can look at my track record of involvement in each of these issues to see the broad range of trust and support our campaign has earned from our diverse district’s most respected community leaders.  


“Implement my Superblocks plan”


I would begin with the “implementation” of my Superblocks plan. It is the most immediate action we can undertake as a city to increase business activity and improve our air and noise pollution.

Superblocks originated in Barcelona, Spain, and transformed their city’s streets into walkable public spaces, where pedestrians, cyclists, and citizens mix safely. Car traffic is relegated to major throughways for a large part of the day and evening (opening up at night for deliveries), allowing pedestrians to walk freely within their neighborhoods.

This plan (implemented in 2016, so we have five years of data) has been a boon for local businesses. Pedestrians roaming within superblocks have led to increased commerce and business activity. That increased activity has led to additional job gains as businesses hire more staff to meet rising demand.

Additionally, superblocks have transformed streets into luxurious green spaces (parks) right outside your front door, which leads to healthier physical/mental outcomes. 

The citizens of our city want this. The zeitgeist has moved towards having less car traffic and more open space, so I would work with local businesses, committees, and other interested parties to pressure wavering electeds who balk at the idea of improving the daily lives of its citizens and communities. 


“Support the police”


As a divorced mother of 2 children, I can tell you, if we can’t get a handle on 1 issue, safety, nothing else matters. Subways aren’t safe. Streets aren’t safe. Decline across District 1 is metastasizing throughout neighborhoods that were traditionally very safe which also reek of weed. Storefronts aren’t safe. There’s no moral vigor and we’re being governed by people wanting to reimagine, reinvent, defund; platitudes resulting in death and diaspora. We spend a fortune on taxes - for what? The return on investment is pathetic. 1 billion went to Thrive, Deblasio’s wife’s mental health initiative that to date, is void of empirical evidence of efficacy. Homeless with mental health issues are responsible for much of what’s being hailed as hate crime; this administration should have to repay every cent of the money that was supposed to go to Thrive and redirect it to the NYPD.

My solution, POLICE.  I won’t support City Council’s CCRB but instead, allow the NYPD Commissioner to preside over his/her unit. Also, ride alongs in high volume command areas for all City Council members should be mandatory - I’m about to go on mine! Qualified immunity, no cash bail, defunding the NYPD 1 billion, dismantling the anti crime unit and homeless division must be reinstated and supported. Democrats and Republicans alike in District 1 want to feel SAFE. I’m confident as City Council member that my support of NYPD will give Manhattanites a reason not to want to move to Florida and possible to accomplish within 2 years.


“Address overcrowded classrooms”


New York City is plagued with overcrowded classrooms. Now is the time to address this issue. NYC public schools will finally receive the long awaited Foundation Aid that it's owed. The federal government has also provided funds as schools continue to focus on COVID-19 safety. Decreasing the number of students in all classrooms will help get students back up to speed after over a year of hybrid and remote learning. Smaller classes will help teachers adjust to the variety of ways that students learn. For instance, if there are students who quickly catch on to a learning module, alongside students who may need additional instruction, the teacher can pivot their teaching style, instructing both groups in a way that meets their educational needs met, without having to separate them into different classrooms. We can accomplish smaller classrooms by using the funds public schools will receive to hire more teachers and in-classroom support staff. We'll need to maximize space within schools. Bu for overcrowded schools, we'll need to get creative on where students learn. It doesn't have to be a traditional school building. Though NYC is returning to its old self, office buildings will have less workers as companies reconsider their in-person workforce needs. Let's repurpose office space to accommodate the need for more classroom space. Partnerships such as this will benefit NYC students, ensuring smaller classes, and empty office spaces will not go unused. We can make this happen to ensure the kids of NYC receive the best education possible.