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?
It is critical that we make it easier for women to be civically engaged by creating meaningful and accessible ways for them to contribute their input on how government services can be more effective. We can introduce frequent virtual and in-person town halls to accommodate for differing schedules that give constituents the opportunity to tell government officials in various agencies about issues that are important to them. It will allow individuals to stay informed, learn about key resources, and open a channel to keep the city’s administration transparent and accountable. Outreach for these meetings should be done in partnership with local nonprofits and in culturally sensitive ways, so that everyone has the ability to participate. I will also guarantee every parent access to childcare by providing operating funds and capacity building to existing programs, and urgent grants to help providers launch new programs in “childcare deserts.”
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?
NYC is home to a variety of phenomenal organizations dedicated to educating and mobilizing women voters. My administration will partner with these groups to amplify their programs and incorporate their platforms into future legislation. Civics education can be taught through workshops on important information like voting and the legislative process, which can be held in heavily-frequented areas like religious institutions and recreational centers. They would be conducted in collaboration with local nonprofits who have ties to hard to reach communities, with an emphasis on language and disability access. This should be paired with user-friendly and comprehensive websites as well as wide-ranging educational campaigns through social media and on public transportation that spread awareness of these events and where to find out more. This information should also be mailed to individuals for added exposure and can be made available in places like grocery stores, senior centers, and schools.
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?
Participation in community boards, local bodies that advise city government on local concerns, is a great way to become civically involved. I will ensure that distribution of community board applications are available to underrepresented communities through partnerships with local groups and community based organizations. This will also include dispensing educational materials on what community boards do, what areas they encompass, and when and where they meet. In addition, I will encourage Borough Presidents and Council Members to have a racial equity lens when choosing community board members. As mayor, I will support community boards and incorporate their input into government services, but I do not believe that they should have veto power.
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?
Under my administration, I will ensure that police officers do not infringe on the first amendment rights of peaceful protesters. It is unacceptable for officers to display violence or to act recklessly towards individuals wanting to show support for their personal causes. Officers should only step in when there are real threats to public safety. If there is police misconduct, I will hold their entire chains 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?
For the city to succeed, we must make it possible for all individuals to meet their highest potential, and provide services and protections for marginalized communities in all aspects of their lives. LGBTQ+ individuals experiencing homelessness, especially trans women, must receive culturally competent services and safe housing. This is the standard I will apply to all service providers receiving city contracts: to meet the highest standards of effectiveness, quality, and conduct. It is also critical to address the continued violence against trans women of color in New York City and work to make our communities safer for everyone. This is personal for me – hate has no place in our city. I will build on the successes of the NYC Unity Project to migrate it into an official office of LGTBQ+ Affairs reporting to a Deputy Mayor and tasked with working between all city agencies. This will ensure that all commitments to the LGTBQ+ community are carried out throughout every agency.