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?
The NYC Board of Elections is an embarrassment to our City and undermines our democratic processes. As Mayor, I would advocate for an overhaul of the BOE to turn it into a competent, accountable agency. Additionally, I would work with Albany to continue to expand voter rights and access.
To address the obstacles to voting facing many women, I have proposed a Universal Community Care platform, which will create Community Care Centers in all five boroughs, which will house conventional programs from childcare, jobs and training programs, activities for seniors, school children and teens, counseling, social services and cultural activities. These centers will ease the caregiving burdens on working mothers, as will the establishment of a Care Income, which will send $5,000 annually to 100,000 high need families across the city to help them afford the resources, medicine and other supplies they need to properly care for their children, elderly loved ones and families.
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?
I would work with City agencies to educate New Yorkers on how to engage civically, including how they can register and vote to ensure their voices are heard. To this end, I served as the chair of the campaign to pass Ranked Choice Voting because after doing the research, it was clear that RCV in other jurisdictions have given Black and Brown New Yorkers more power at the polls.
In addition, I will ensure that all NYC schools adopt a culturally responsive approach to all
aspects of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, including civics education. I will fully invest in the NYC Department of Education’s definition of Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education with an expansion of the Office of Equity and Access, and require that all new curriculum purchases are culturally responsive and aligned with the NYC DOE’s definition of culturally responsive-sustaining education. I will center community engagement in all school practices and decisions, and provide training for all staff on disability justice and gender justice, to ensure stronger support for youth with disabilities and LGBTQIA+ youth. Finally, I will mandate an advisory program in every school, with a culturally responsive, locally determined curriculum based on population, languages spoken, and need. These policies will support NYC students to engage with their communities, and with local politics.
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?
From the jump, I have always believed that impacted communities were always the experts of their own solution and should have a say in policy making decisions, which is why I made people’s assemblies so important throughout my campaign and will continue them into my mayoralty. I do not think community boards should have the final say. While borough presidents and city council members appoint community board members, I would work with them to expand access and increase diversity on these boards.
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 in the streets this summer marching for justice after the murder of George Floyd and breaking the curfew that I believed was unnecessary and ill-advised. I also watched in horror as the NYPD executed a six-hour siege around the home of a Black Lives Matter activist for using a bullhorn at a protest. We saw unconstitutional use of force in videos. We saw some police officers who did not violate their training and the law, but we saw that leadership defended what was unconstitutional and just plain wrong. First and foremost, I will replace the Police Commissioner with one who is accountable to me. Then, I will set clear rules that the department must follow when it comes to protests and all policing for that matter. If the leadership of the department or members of the department do not follow those rules, I will take swift action to hold them accountable.
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?
No one should be denied access to health care because of their chosen gender expression. I will provide funding for staff at city hospitals that will act as case managers and advocates for transgender, non-binary and gender nonconforming patients. My administration will expand funding for culturally competent mental health services for the LGBTQ+ community and work to increase access to HIV and STI prevention medications.
I will expand funding for The New York City Commission on Human Rights as well as employment programs tailored to transgender, non-binary and bender non-conforming New Yorkers. I also recognize that trans women face unique challenges with regard to stable housing, especially trans women of color. My administration will invest in supported SROs, and work to construct more culturally competent affordable housing targeted to the LGBTQ+ community to avoid placements in traditional shelters that may be unsafe.
In addition, recognizing that trans women are disproportionately impacted by police violence, I will cut at least $1 billion from the NYPD budget to fund investments in alternatives to policing, including the elimination of the vice squad, creating a community-based participatory justice fund to address gun violence, and annual payments for low-income caregivers.