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?
“We are in a childcare crisis. We have 1 in 4 women considering stepping back from their careers today, and unemployment due to COVID-19 has impacted women much more than it has men. Part of any equity plan must include an expansion on Pre-K for all to include free childcare for ages 1-3 for all families with income less than $70k. Free childcare is key.
Once this has been achieved, we will be far better situated to support women in our city’s civic engagement systems.
I was only the second female Sanitation Commissioner, and I used my position to level the playing field and make it easier for others. In an agency that is 98% male, I promoted the first female four-star chief, Director of the Operations Management Division, and the highest ranking uniformed female employee in department history. In my administration, not only will I have gender diversity at the highest ranks of city government—I’m also going to listen to them.”
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?
Welcoming all New Yorkers to civic involvement will be a priority for me. I have one of the best voting records of any candidate running for mayor. I also know that our democracy is often inaccessible for most. Barriers include time, financial means, language access, and accessibility. It is up to government to fix these issues and make sure every New Yorker is able to participate and be civically engaged. I also believe in efficient and effective government, and that we must streamline redundancies in order to better serve New Yorkers. We can’t expect our civic infrastructure to be accessible if it is complicated and divided into many different offices. We must prioritize making access to government simpler, particularly for those that are traditionally underrepresented in the civic process such as people of color, youth, and people with disabilities. We should use the same lens for everything from City Council hearings to Participatory Budgeting to poll sites.
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 hope that having virtual options for community board meetings will continue- this allows more people to participate, including women, those that have jobs that make it difficult to travel to meetings, and people with disabilities. Additionally, I support amending state law to expand community board access to include non-citizens to make our boards more diverse.
I believe the role of community boards is to consult and advise. We have to listen to communities, but we also can’t accommodate too many disparate groups with the power to block needed infrastructure like protected bike lanes or economic mobility of small businesses. However, I think community boards are vital to proposing ideas for alternative plans to what the city may propose, as they know their communities best. We all share this city, and we all need to do our part to make sure it is the best it can be.
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 BLM protests last summer and witnessed first hand the order given to front line officers to kettle—this order was given from the top. It’s completely unacceptable and those in senior leadership should have been held accountable by the Mayor, including the Commissioner.
Within the first 100 days, I would replace NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. I resigned from City Hall because of mismanagement at the most senior level. Lack of management translates to chaos for the public. I have seen first hand the difference that new leadership can bring to a uniform agency. When I joined Sanitation, I had a zero tolerance policy—you were late to work, you were docked a day’s pay; if you took a bribe to take private garbage, you were fired. That same level of transformation is possible in our police department. It means setting high expectations, making it clear they must be met, and ensuring officers who violate the rights of New Yorkers face consequences.
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?
Discrimination and violence against the transgender community cannot be tolerated. We need a multi-pronged approach to address it.
I believe that hate is taught, and that we must make more efforts to expand trans visibility and affirmation.
Additionally, I would streamline the work that exists across numerous agencies and offices that deal with hate crimes so that they can work more effectively and strategically. Under the current administration, combating hate crimes fall under several groups: the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force, the City Commission on Human Rights, the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, as well as programs within the DOE.
Lastly, we need to hold the NYPD accountable for combatting and reducing hate crimes. We need to take actionable steps towards changing making the police a service for communities. That starts with measuring what we want to see—reduction in crime, and positive community engagement—and promoting officers that exemplify those values.