1. Women have told us that the most common reasons they are unable to engage in civic processes are logistical – time, childcare, work. What are your plans to reform our city’s civic engagement systems so they are accessible to women who face these obstacles—and, how do you plan to address the obstacles?
My policy platform is built on the belief that politics should work for all the people. The people who help keep New York City afloat, in and out of a pandemic, are the same ones struggling because our system was designed for them to struggle. As Mayor, I will work to build an environment that fosters equity both in New York City government and the city as a whole. It is time that we center the voices of people who have been systematically disenfranchised by bad policies. I believe that making decisions at the top through the lens of equity at the top will enable us to reimagine and rebuild the systems that have held us back. Further, I am a big proponent of the matching funds program. Matching funds make running for office equitable and accessible for grassroots, people-powered candidates like myself. They work to take big money out of politics, and keep politicians accountable to the interests of the people, not the interests of corporate PACs, developers, or police unions.
2. For many, civics education ends in the classroom. If elected, what plans do you have to ensure that New Yorkers are learning about civic engagement throughout their entire lives, including their rights as residents, how they can engage in different aspects of government, the legislative process, and changes in voting policies?
My campaign is centered around the idea that politics should work for all people. Throughout my campaign I have reiterated that those closest to the problem are the closest to the solution, and in my administration I will welcome all stakeholders and community members to voice their opinion and gain more decision-making power. Creating politics for all people is personal to me. As an Afro-Latina woman from Brooklyn, the communities being talked about are communities I have been a part of or have worked closely with for decades. I will bring my community with me to City Hall. I will be turning to organizations that fundamentally believe New Yorkers deserve dignity and care and are working to facilitate as many community-led projects as possible, to truly democratize how our City government works.
Furthermore, I will fight for suffrage for non-citizen residents in NYC so they can vote in municipal elections. If you live in our city, you should have a voice in our government.
3. Given that 43% of community board members are women (and fewer are women of color), what will you do to make participating in community boards easier for underrepresented communities? Do you believe that community boards should have veto power over certain decisions? If so, which ones?
I do not believe that community boards should have veto power, as they tend to not be representative of the community at large and that this would actually stifle community involvement in the process. I believe that in order to make community boards more diverse and representative of the affected communities the work needs to start at the grassroots level. There are many people who do community work such as running food pantries, organizing block parties, distributing mutual aid and more, that are largely left out of the civic engagement side. I believe that we should encourage community leaders in those roles to seek appointment to community boards. Additionally, I would be interested in working with borough presidents to see how we can better educate people on what community boards do and why their participation would be impactful. I will also explore ways to make participating on community boards easier, for example by providing child care subsidies.
4. Protest is an important channel for communities to make their voices heard, especially those who have been historically excluded from civic systems. Following the recent Department of Investigation report that found that the NYPD has acted recklessly and endangered New Yorkers who were protesting, how will you protect New Yorkers First Amendment rights?
I was at the protests and saw firsthand the immense police brutality unleashed on many protestors. Some in irreversible ways. My own children were pepper-sprayed in the crowds. We were kettled with other protestors when my son was assaulted by an officer. I uphold the demands of forcing Commissioner Shea to resign. I will insist that the police benevolent association be held financially accountable for the harm it causes. I fully support firing the cops who partook in the brutality, starting with those who were recorded on video like NYPD Officer Vincent D’Andraia, who shoved a young woman so forcefully to the ground that she had a seizure and is still suffering from her injuries. I would also have ordered reduced police presence at protests.
Broadly, I will work to end the long history of police brutality against people of color. I am committed to defunding the NYPD by $3 billion, and instead investing that money in community services that truly keep us stable, healthy, and safe.
5. Women of transgender experience are disproportionately impacted by police violence and experience incredible barriers to accessing stable housing, culturally competent health care, and other services that make it harder to engage civically. What specific plans do you have to make New York City a more equitable place for the transgender community?
I would take a holistic approach to further the rights and safety of the LGBTQ+ community. As part of my decareral agenda, I will decriminalize sex work and creating a sex workers bill of rights. I will also eliminate the NYPD Vice Squad which has harmed and trapped many trans women of color and sex workers in a cycle of arrests and incarceration. This is an urgent priority; trans women of color and sex workers have faced decades of harassment due to the criminalization of sex work, and I look forward to ending this harmful criminalization.
Reducing gender and sexuality inequity requires a real shift in budget and outreach. We need to dramatically expand resources for organizations that serve LGBTQ+ people, particularly organizations that focus on their healthcare, and we need to invest directly in City programs that ensure this care is available to every LGBTQ+ New Yorker. I will also expand funding for more social and supportive housing targeted for LGBTQ+ homeless youth.