The stakes of this election are very high. I am running because it's time for a new page in Southern Brooklyn politics. I am unbought and unbossed and answer only to the everyday people in my district. I've been listening and the people want greater accountability, transparency and overall honesty in government. That is why I am committed to the following priorities as your next Assembly Member.
Community Inclusion & Engagement
The bottom line is that people want to be heard and included in the decisions that government makes on their behalf. To that end, I promise to create a community think tank in my district to really engage residents of all ages to hear what they have to say and to solicit their input on key initiatives coming out of my office.
Transparency in Government Spending
Albany continues to lack transparency in how funding is appropriated by legislators. Lawmakers have a slush fund worth about $2 billion and watchdog groups continue to decry the secretive process. There are "lump sum" appropriations in our budget which list a dollar amount but don't specify which groups are receiving the money. Considering the fact that this process has been exploited in the past and has been at the center of many corruption-related scandals, it is time for Albany to do the right thing and bring 100% transparency to how tax-payer dollars are spent by lawmakers. I promise to fight on the right side of this issue and set an example in my district by being fully transparent with my constituents about what projects are being funded.
As a product of public k-12 education, I understand how important it is for our schools to be fully funded. I will fight vigorously for the schools in my district to be fully funded and receive their fair share of the state budget. I will also advocate for the availability and accessibility of mental health services for all k-12 students.
I grew up in a community which had been ravaged by gun violence for several decades and I was devastated when my 18-year-old neighbor was shot and killed during a botched robbery. I am proud to have created two organizations to combat the longstanding trend of gun violence in my neighborhood. In December 2009, I created the Coney Island Coalition against Violence, a multi-stakeholder alliance, and in December 2013, I also created the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative which has since taken off as a multi-pronged effort including school-based and community-based activities aimed at reducing gun violence. I support the recent gun control bills passed by the New York State Assembly and will use my position to replicate and fund new anti-violence programs throughout my district.
Civic Education & Empowerment
One of the best ways to fight against corruption is to democratize information and make sure that knowledge is spread amongst the general population, instead of just a privileged few. To that end, I am strongly committed to partnering with organizations to establish classes and workshops in Southern Brooklyn to teach people about civics as well as electoral politics. I look forward to supporting the very first academy for civic empowerment to train local residents how to run for office on all levels including county committee, district leader, city council, state assembly and senate, and congress. It is time that we train local residents how to assume leadership positions as a form of community empowerment.
Neighborhoods across the district such as Coney Island struggle with unemployment at a higher rate than Brooklyn and New York City. I will work to bring year-round job training and work readiness programs to the peninsula. I will also fight for local hiring when companies do business in our communities.
Housing & Homeownership
Safe and affordable housing remain one of the top concerns of families in the district. Whether it's the illegal home conversions in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, or the luxury apartments going up in Coney Island without affordable units, I will stand up and fight on behalf of the community. My office will also partner with homeownership assistance programs to educate families on how to pool their resources to purchase their first home.
Nearly half of the elderly population in Brooklyn reside in the Southwest neighborhoods which comprise Assembly District 46, such as Coney Island and Bay Ridge. Specifically, Coney Island is home to the largest population of persons 65 & over. I am proud of my record of serving the senior population over the last several years and will fight to protect and augment funding for vital senior programs and services such as Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) centers, Senior Citizen Home Owner Exemption (SCHE) and Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE).