"I am running to build a real Democratic State Senate majority that finally fully funds our public schools, protects tenants from being thrown out of their homes and strengthens our loophole ridden rent laws, passes needed ethics reform, election reform and real criminal justice reform and makes Andrea Stewart-Cousins the first woman Senate Majority Leader, breaking up the so-called “three men in a room”. We need to open doors of opportunity, not slam them shut."
“Education was my salvation. That’s why I’ve fought so hard to knock down barriers and make sure every child receives the best education possible, and the same opportunity to succeed in life as I had.”
- As a Community School Board President, he filed the original CFE lawsuit to fix a broken school funding formula that cheated our children and won a court judgment that brought home $16 billion for NYC public school children;
- Fought to reduce class sizes;
- Led fight to create more than 4,000 new openings for pre-k;
- Led fight to prevent 6,000 teacher layoffs;
- Worked to start the Drop-Out Prevention Initiative that services students in public schools citywide;
- Fought to increase funding for Arts Education.
- Fully fund public schools consistent with the CFE vs. NY decision;
- Fully fund both CUNY and SUNY’s operating budgets with no tuition increase;
- Advance community schools;
- Pass Teachers Choice to help teachers pay for needed supplies;
- Reduce class size to continue to narrow the achievement gap;
- Strengthen teacher professional development programs;
- Support only those charter schools which are open to all students, provide union protections for teachers, administrators and support staff and are transparent and accountable to how money spent;
- Assign effective teachers to “high needs” schools with additional pay and other supports designed to improve both instruction and outcomes;
- Increase awareness and training on dyslexia, its warning signs and appropriate intervention strategies.
“State leaders must put aside their self-serving political agendas, recognize today’s lifestyle realities and make it easier for every citizen to vote. Although many here are quick and correct to blast other states passing voter ID laws that make it more difficult for voters to cast a ballot, not enough is being said or done about New York’s laws that suppress our vote and disproportionately hurt minority voters.”
- Establish early voting and no-excuse absentee voting in New York State.
- Consolidate the state and federal primary to the third week in June.
- Allow Election Day voter registration.
- Establishing a public financing program modeled on the successful New York City program;
- Setting sensible limits on contributions and closing corporate subsidiary and LLC loopholes.
- Restricting fundraising during the legislative session and instituting fixed limits on those doing business with the government.
- Increasing reporting, transparency and enforcement.
- Prohibiting the use of campaign funds for personal or legal expenses.
- Create a truly independent redistricting Commission with the goal of ending partisan gerrymandering.
“The protection of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the open space we enjoy is not an academic or feel good exercise for me or my constituents. I take it very personally and it is critical to our heath, the quality of life in our area and the sustainability of our community and our city.”
- As Chair of the City Council Education Committee, fought to get PCBs out of classrooms. Through hearings, legislation and press events, fought the Bloomberg Administration 10-year timetable and pushed for faster clean-up;
- Sponsored the City Council resolution in support of state legislation to ban fracking in New York State;
- Fought to phase out dirty boilers that our polluting the air, particularly in Northern Manhattan and in our schools;
- Worked with Bill Perkins to protect children from the deadly effects of lead in their homes;
- Continued the fight against lead poisoning in the Dominican Republic where he joined with a delegation from “Friends of Lead Free Children” to advocate for the cleanup of toxic site in Haina, resulting in a full clean-up of the site;
- Been a strong advocate for open space that is so important to both our physical and mental health. This has included bringing irrigation for the first time to historic 20-acre Isham Park; working with the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance on the development of a new Eco Dock in the Dyckman Marina.
- Expand dramatically investment in our infrastructure – roads, bridges, tunnels, etc.
- Expand use of technology that is environmentally friendly including high speed rail, wind turbines, geo-thermal technology and solar panels;
- Pass legislation related to planning, financing, energy efficiency and preservation of open spaces and wetlands to protect our environment for ourselves and future generations;
- Be big and bold in our ambition to build a clean-energy economy that works for everybody.
“It’s an outrage that the State Senate has not acted on a single piece of LGBT legislation in the last five years. We need real leadership that doesn’t just talk about problems, but also expends the political capital needed to solve them. I intimately understand the destructive power of discrimination, and take the commitment to eradicate it everywhere and for everyone personally.”
- From my first days in the City Council 15 years ago, he was proud to co-sponsor a resolution urging the State Legislature and the Governor to support the Dignity for All Students Act, and urging the Mayor and the New York City Board of Education to address the needs and protect the rights of students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender;
- In 2004 cosponsored a resolution calling upon the Mayor to instruct the City Clerk to recognize the fundamental rights of same-sex partners by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the City of New York;
- Sponsored “Respect for All Week” in our public schools to help promote understanding and combat bullying.
- Fought to secure millions of dollars to combat HIV/AIDS, worked to make health care more accessible to LGBT seniors and to homeless gay youth, and every year to make allocations to the Gay Men's Crisis Center.
- One of the first elected officials to record an “It Gets Better” video. (http://www.itgetsbetter.org/video/entry/1388)
“Growing up, my family didn’t have much. I saw many talented friends who didn’t make it and lost a brother to street violence. As a Councilman and Chairman of the Education Committee, I’ve gotten too many calls alerting me to yet another child lost to senseless gun violence. And now the whole country sees that this violence can happen any place at any time. This gun violence has to stop.”
- Worked with community groups fighting to get guns off the street;
- Sponsored Buy Back Programs;
- Advocated for stronger state and federal legislation.
- Strengthen federal gun safety legislation;
- Expand background checks and close loopholes to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, those on the terror watch list and the mentally ill;
- Ban assault weapons;
- Mandate safety devices and microstamping.
“We are made strong by our diversity. Preserving and creating affordable housing is critical to promoting this diversity by ensuring seniors can stay here, young people can start here and the middle class can prosper. Hard working New Yorkers who built their neighborhoods, lived there for years must be able to continue to live here.”
- Provided assistance and grants to community groups like Community League of the Heights and Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement to protect affordable housing and provide housing code enforcement, tenant education and advocacy and tenant organization;
- Helped Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp and West Harlem Group Assistance to implement a grassroots-based approach to protect affordable housing; and Palante Harlem, Legal Services NYC and the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp to fund ant-eviction legal services, tenant harassment protection and advocacy;
- Sponsored important legislation including a bill that would require every apartment building in New York City to have a summary of basic tenants' rights posted in the lobby and handed to every tenant along with their lease; Resolution 700 in 2011 calling upon the New York State Legislature to renew and strengthen rent regulations and eviction protection; Intro 436 to require building-wide remediation of asthma-triggering housing code violations; and Intro 90 in 2010 to provide legal counsel for senior citizens facing eviction or foreclosure proceedings.
- Worked to build new affordable housing including championing the Sugar Hill Project that will offer 124 apartments for low-income or previously homeless families and an early education center for preschoolers and the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem Project to renovate a school building that had been vacant for over a decade to provide 86 units for low income families and individuals.
- Worked daily with tenants in his district to deal with their housing issues including supporting start up tenant organizations, personally knocking on doors of TIL tenants who were about to lose property, calling and reaching out to seniors one-by-one concerning their SCRIE applications, helping building tenants fight back against slumlords and following up with tenants displaced by fire or other emergencies.
- Repeal the Urstadt Law which limits the ability of the City Council to strengthen rent regulations;
- Repeal vacancy decontrol;
- Continue the freeze on NYC’s one million rent stabilized apartments;
- Expand rent subsidies for veterans, the elderly and disabled;
- Stop out-of-context luxury developments like Sherman Plaza that will cause gentrification and displacement;
- Pass S05040 to protect Rent Control tenants from our exorbitant increases;
- Require Mitchell-Lama apartments which leave the program to enter the rent stabilization program;
- Give tenants more information and better support and protections when they are mistreated or displaced by greedy landlords;
- Better survey vacant housing and put it to use as affordable housing;
- Require coop and condo sponsors to sell apartments that become vacant in converted buildings rather than rent them at unregulated rates;
- Encourage the use of public pension funds to build affordable housing.
Immigration & Dominican Republic
“New York State should be a leader in providing opportunity and solutions for immigrants, particularly undocumented youth. This should start with finally passing the New York DREAM Act, providing increased college access to these students.”
- Since 2003, he has joined a team of doctors on an annual Humanitarian Mission to the Dominican Republic;
- Delivered over 52 million prenatal supplements benefitting approximately 115,000 high-risk pregnant women in Dominican Republic;
- Their advocacy has directly resulted in the clean-up of the World’s most Lead toxic site, Haina;
- Donated school supplies to the young school children of Haina and started a free school program for “breakfast” given to young school children, along with vitamin and mineral supplements and one piece of fruit each day.
- Pass the DREAM Act;
- Provide a true path to legal status for law-abiding, undocumented people that live in our country;
- Undocumented persons who entered the country as minors should be permitted opportunities to gain expedited citizenship.
Jobs and Opportunities
“Education is the key to economic opportunity – but we must also make sure that there are good paying jobs, and a strong diversified vibrant economy for this generation and the next.”
- Sponsored the Small Business Survival Act to help protect neighborhood businesses of being priced and pushed out of their stores;
- Helped create a community manpower training program cited as a national model by the Clinton Global Initiative;
- Sponsored landmark NYC MWBE legislation to increase opportunities for women and minority owned businesses;
- Sponsored living wage and paid family leave laws.
“We need to promote smarter transportation initiative that get people out of cars through investment in mass transit, car sharing and encouraging ferries, bikes and walking as better alternatives.”
- Continue to invest in mass transit through administrative savings, new motor vehicle fees and the sale of MTA assets;
- Create a viable five year plan to keep fares affordable and services reliable;
- Create a comprehensive ferry system connected to the mass transit system.