District 1 City Council Candidates Questionnaires

Chinatown, NYC

On Thursday, June 3, University Settlement co-hosted a forum for the District 1 City Council Candidates. Due to time limitations, we were unable to ask many of the questions suggested by audience members. Last week, we asked candidates to answer some of these audience questions in writing. As candidates are currently busy in the week before Election Day (June 22), some were unable to respond. We will be posting responses as they come in.

These questions are taken directly from the pre-event sign-up form and the Q&A during the event. Almost all the questions are verbatim, with exception to where we combined similar questions into one or made a question more concise for space. Candidate questionnaires are not posted in any specific order. With exception to formatting, we made no changes to the candidates’ answers.

Answers from Tiffany Winbush 

1. With the greater awareness of the BLM movement, we have seen hard decisions need to be made to reverse racism. How will you bridge disparities in housing, parks, schools, and healthcare in these three extremely economically and racially segregated community boards, and welcome in the severely underrepresented Black community in particular to live here?  

Historically, District 1 was home to a large community of Black residents, hence why we have the African Burial Ground. We can ensure more diversity throughout our neighborhood by ensuring deeply affordable housing, as well as housing targeted towards middle-income New Yorkers, such as a reinvestment in the Mitchell-Lama program. Once our communities are diverse due to ensuring various types of housing across the economic spectrum, that means our parks and schools will also become diverse. We can then direct these new members of our community to the healthcare resources within the community and also hopefully encourage community involvement on the local Community Boards. 
 

2. With the rise of anti-Asian and anti-Semitic hate incidents, as well as the trauma being experienced around the pandemic, many older adults in our community are facing new challenges, along with those they were already facing. How do you propose addressing getting more robust mental health services directed for older adults at senior centers to provide the critical support needed to address these issues, while creating communities of support and trust in our neighborhoods and centers? 

 I believe in aging in place. Older New Yorkers who have spent their lives helping to make NYC great, should be able to retire in the place they call home. Anti-Asian and anti-Semitic hate incidents are unacceptable and we must ensure all residents are safe. Making sure that there is a police presence to deal with violent crimes such as these hate incidents are vital. I’d recommend a full revamping of our city services to address the needs of older New Yorkers, with a focus on heavily investing in community centers, healthcare and mental health services, and food insecurity. We should be honored to have elders in our community and we should respect and uplift them for the wisdom and knowledge they provide to us. 

3. Where do you stand on the Borough-based jail in Chinatown, development on Governors Island, the Soho rezoning, and the proposed development or extension of the shoreline downtown? Do you support the Mayor’s proposal to work with developers on the new shoreline?  

Those who are detained at Rikers Island are oftentimes subjected to horrific conditions and they must be addressed to ensure the safety of those detained and the staff within the facility. But I do not support the borough based jails because they impede on the quality of residents. Building massive towers that aren’t used to house NYC residents experiencing the effects of affordable housing, but instead using them to house those who are part of the criminal justice system, does nothing to address the major issues that communities are experiencing. Much of what occurs in Rikers is institutional and won’t be changed simply by moving people from place to another. While we know Rikers should be closed, we need a 360 review of how New York jails its residents. Full-stop, jails should be used to hold those who are accused of violent crimes that could potentially put more people in danger. We should work on the decriminalization of low-level crimes and instead issue fines and summonses. We then have to direct these accused of low-level crimes to social services to ensure they are not repent offenders. Once NYC fully commits to using its criminal justice resources to combat violent crimes and not at low-level offenses, we should then be able to use our current facilities vs. building new jails. Additionally, the borough based jails come with a hefty price tag. I’d much rather that money be used to build affordable housing and provide access to needed services such as mental health help, job training and placement, and access to extracurricular activities.

Regarding Governor’s Island, it is a backyard for the millions of New Yorkers who don’t have one. With a vocal community, and a commitment from our elected officials, we can keep Governors Island free of a high-density, high-rise development. Access to Governors Island is personal to me. I live steps aways from the Manhattan ferry and visit frequently throughout the season with my little ones who are 8 and 4 years old. Like so many New Yorkers, my family of four, including an 8 year-old and 4 year-old, stayed put in NYC during the height of COVID-19. The experience reconfirmed what we already knew. Accessible, open green-space is invaluable. When Governors Island opened up last July, we were one of the first families to reserve our ferry tickets. We took in the open-space of Governors Island and my daughter mastered riding her bicycle for the first time in a space that was free of car traffic. I’ll also point out that access to open-space is an equity issue. Last summer, as well as this season, a Governors Island ferry was made available in Red Hook, allowing a community that is typically underserved by open space, access to it. I urge the Governors Island Trust to reassess the vacant properties currently going unused on the island to strategize solutions on how to use those instead of building a high-rise, high density building. 

The SoHo rezoning efforts need to go back to the drawing board to ensure community input. Affordable housing is needed all across New York City and we need to ensure the rezoning results in truly affordable units that aren’t ultimately affordable to the many New Yorkers who are in need of permanent, affordable housing. As we know, ensuring the resiliency of our shoreline is vital. I’m not confident that extension of the downtown shoreline into the East River is the best use of city’s funds. Those funds can be used to more immediately protect our shoreline vs. focusing on a plan that will take years to execute.  

4. Are you committed to refusing contributions from real estate, finance, or business lobbies? 

Yes.

5. If elected, what values or principles will guide your actions?  

My lived experiences guide my values and principles. That means when I’m elected to serve on the New York City Council, I’ll lead with empathy and make decisions that will positively impact the entire community, not just some of the residents of District 1.  

6. What is your view on Gifted and Talented programs, police defunding and SHSAT tests?  

I believe that all students are gifts and talented in their own right. We so often focus on a small number of students who have been determined to be the “best and brightest,” which means we often overlook other students. I understand the need to provide education programming based on a students ability, but we can achieve this by not dividing students into a us vs. them situation. I propose we focus on implementing smaller class sizes in NYC and also ensure that all classrooms have two teachers. These solutions will lead to students learning at their own pace, while also benefiting from being in a classroom setting with a diverse set of students.

7. Do you support elimination of the retail rent tax, elimination of the GCT tax for small businesses, and a tax break for retained employees for small business?

Yes, in addition to supporting these measures, I also support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA), which would establish conditions and requirements for commercial lease renewal negotiations.

8. Do you support the Two Bridges community-led rezoning plan? Why or why not? Will you make this a priority if elected? The Community Bridges community-led rezoning plan shows us what can happen when the community is empowered to provide solutions to issues that directly impact them. I fully support the community-led plan and I will make it a priority to execute this plan and ensure community members also have a seat at the table as I’m elected by the people to serve them.  

9. I live near Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and there are so many people struggling with addiction there these days, especially between Rivington and Houston. I got trained to administer Narcan and have called 911 a lot, but I’m hoping that our next city council person can be part of a solution to better serve folks who are struggling while making the playgrounds in Sara D. Roosevelt (and elsewhere in our district) more usable for kids and families (and green space and park space for kids and families is a huge issue in our district!). How would you work to do that? 

I agree wholeheartedly that our district is lacking in green space. We have some communities within the district that have an abundance of green space, while others do not. I propose we conduct a district-wide assessment to determine how we can make our current green spaces more accessible, as well as determine what other areas can be used to create green space. We also need to fight for the current green space in our community, such as the Elizabeth Street Garden and Governors Island to ensure they stay completely usable and free of development. Regarding our New York neighbors that are struggling with addiction, we should address them with empathy. New York City needs major investment in our mental health and drug addiction services. COVID-19 has made the need to address mental health and addiction even more important. We can not wait any longer to address the needs of New Yorkers. 

10. What are your 1st and/& 2nd choice rankings for Mayor? 

First, I’ll say that I’m thankful for ranked choice voting as we have a slate of great candidates. While I have not decided on my 1st and 2nd choice as of yet, I’ll note that Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley are at the top of my list. Both have worked in the Mayoral office and can be day one ready based on their previous experience inside of City Hall.  

## End Tiffany Winbush answers.

Christopher Marte’s team let us know that if voters would like to ask more questions of Chris, he and his whole team will be out at every poll site in the district (JHS 56, St Anthony’s, BMCC) for as long as they are open. They advised voters to review his website, which is comprehensive, and previous questionnaires.

Answers from Susan Lee 

1. With the greater awareness of the BLM movement, we have seen hard decisions need to be made to reverse racism. How will you bridge disparities in housing, parks, schools, and healthcare in these three extremely economically and racially segregated community boards, and welcome in the severely underrepresented Black community in particular to live here?   

How I staff my campaign is indicative of how I will staff my council office, which is inclusive.  Currently, I have an individual who lives in a homeless shelter, someone who is on the spectrum, a Latina, several blacks, several Muslim interns, a Jewish intern, a Latina intern, a black intern and a Chinese intern.  Our city is a melting pot and it warms my heart that my campaign has been able to bring all these wonderful cultures together!  I practice what I preach and I will work hard to make sure that disparities in housing, parks, schools and healthcare are addressed.  For instance, I will address food insecurities by working with healthcare providers to identify patients with such needs and connect them with SNAP and I will work to increase community health programs that provide access to screening in low-income communities.  I will advocate for responsible development in our community.  Too often we give away too much to developers for little in return.  We need to increase the percentage of mandatory inclusionary housing and also make certain that inputs from the community are respected and implemented such as having supermarkets, child care centers, community centers, medical facilities, etc.  Lastly, we need to expand the AMI band to allow individuals earning very low income so that affordable housing is truly benefiting those who need it the most.   

2. With the rise of anti-Asian and anti-Semitic hate incidents, as well as the trauma being experienced around the pandemic, many older adults in our community are facing new challenges, along with those they were already facing. How do you propose addressing getting more robust mental health services directed for older adults at senior centers to provide the critical support needed to address these issues, while creating communities of support and trust in our neighborhoods and centers?  

Older adults are indeed facing new challenges as a result of the rise in hate crime in our community.  We can no longer standby and do nothing to address their concerns and mental health.  I will work with the Department for the Aging to fund supportive-services programs for older adults at senior centers.  The stress related to food insecurities can also affect one’s well-being.  I will engage with healthcare providers to identify patients with such needs and connect them with SNAP.  Studies have shown that active individuals are healthier mentally and physically; therefore, I will advocate for funding to senior centers for exercise classes and also increase community health programs that provide access to screening in low-income and aging communities.  My office will develop public awareness campaigns to drive early detection of mental health issues and provide materials and outreach to older adults that are both linguistically and culturally appropriate.   

3. Where do you stand on the Borough-based jail in Chinatown, development on Governor’s Island, the Soho rezoning, and the proposed development or extension of the shoreline downtown? Do you support the Mayor’s proposal to work with developers on the new shoreline?  

Borough-based jail-I do not support Borough Based Jail (BBJ) and closing of Rikers Island.  Reform must be made at Rikers but simply dismantling it does not solve the institutional and structural issues there. We need to address those issues head on.  Detainees are subjected to inhumane conditions that needs to be remedied through proper training for the correction officers.  We need to renovate Rikers to bring it up to current standards.  Some of those incarcerated have mental health illness that goes untreated.  I proposed opening a mental health ward on Rikers to address this critical need.  Overall, reform and renovate Rikers will be take less time, will be cheaper and is more humane.   

I suggest that the $9 billion proposed for BBJ be diverted to fund affordable housing, close the technological and resource divide in our education system, upgrade school infrastructures, and fund programs for seniors and the homeless population.   

Governors Island Upzoning- I have issued a statement opposing the upzoning of Governors Island. I am disappointed that our current Councilmember, once again, sided with developers over her constituents. There’s no place for high-density high-rises on the Island when it is a short ferry ride from downtown Manhattan. The research center is a scam. It is a bait and switch tactic we see too often. Approving the so-called plan for the research center will open the flood gates for other high-rise developments. 

SoHo/NoHo rezoning- I am against the certified plan for SoHo/NoHo rezoning because it will destroy the unique characteristics of the area. The certified plan will open the door to NYU and other university expansion. While under the guise of “community facilities,” developers are exempted from affordable housing requirements. Additionally, the certified plan will encourage developers to demolish buildings with rent regulated apartments and loft-law units; thereby displacing low-income residents. My biggest concern is the loop-hole in the certified plan that allows the upzoning of the area without affordable housing requirements because commercial space, community facilities, and residential space not over 25,000 sq ft/25 units per building per existing zoning lots are exempted from the affordable housing mandate. The plan would allow developers to build high-density high-rises that do not fit with the characteristics of SoHo/NoHo. And lastly, it will allow big box stores to come into the area, resulting in the displacement of mom-and-pop small businesses that truly make the neighborhood unique. The certified plan’s mandatory inclusionary housing with only 25% of the units affordable is not enough. At the same time, under the guideline, units are not affordable for most New Yorkers. I propose expanding the AMI band for the affordable units that will allow those with low-income qualify for these units. 

Development of along the shoreline- I strongly support the Seaport Coalition’s fight against Howard Hughes in the 250 Water Street development. I have been vocal in my support to Michael Kramer. Like the certified plan for SoHo/NoHo, I am disappointed with approval by LPC to allow the development to go forward. The new development is out of character for the Seaport Historical District.   

I oppose the development in the Two Bridges neighborhood. It destroyed the only supermarket in the neighborhood and built One Manhattan Square.   The building doesn’t fit in with the characteristics of the existing neighborhood.  I am for responsible development that takes into the consideration the needs of the community.  I strongly support the Two Bridges Community Plan, which requires 50% of units in the new buildings to be deeply affordable and that commercial spaces fulfill the needs of the community, such as a supermarket, childcare facility, community space, medical facilities.   

4. Are you committed to refusing contributions from real estate, finance, or business lobbies?  

Yes 

5. If elected, what values or principles will guide your actions?  

I am first and foremost a public servant.  I am here to serve the public.  Oftentimes, our elected officials forget why they are put in office in the first place.  I will lead with compassion and will be inclusive.  I want to effect change through action and through servant leadership because we are here to serve the public and lead by example.   

6. What is your view on Gifted and Talented programs, police defunding and SHSAT tests?  

Education- Education is the foundation of a thriving society.  I am a product of New York City public school.  My parents are firm believers that education is the biggest investment of your life because no one can take away your knowledge, it will only grow when the mind is challenged and nurtured.  Our education system needs reform and I am committed to do the hard work necessary so that all our children will have access to quality education regardless of where they live.  I support the use of SHSAT as the sole criteria for admission into specialized high schools, it is an equalizer, which gives students of low-income and immigrant families, a fair chance for advancement.  I will expand the Gifted & Talented Programs throughout New York City.  By doing so, it will provide quality instruction to high performing students beginning at a young age. It would also reduce the current disparities by preparing more students for success in the SHSAT and entrance into specialized high schools.  We need to invest in underserved schools by expanding after-school programs and enrichment courses.  Coming from the non-profit sphere, I’ve worked on numerous programs where public and private partnerships were crucial.  We have Google and Facebook in NYC, I will work with tech companies such as these to address technology and resource gaps in our community.  As our City reopens, I want to ensure that our students are returning to a safe environment.  It is my priority that all schools provide social and mental health services to students as they return.  Additionally, all teachers who want vaccinations will have access to vaccines and most importantly, our schools must have resources to provide well-ventilated classrooms.   

Policing- Quality of life has decreased while crime has increased.  it is undeniable that the mass death, unemployment, and economic instability that accompanied the pandemic literally upended society, especially for people who are traditionally harmed by gun violence.  Gun violence continues to ravage our city, as of April 2021, 299 people have been shot, a 54% increase over the same time last year, and the most the city has seen since 2012.  92 people have been murdered, a 19.5% jump, according to the most recent NYPD data. In 2020, the city recorded 462 murders, an increase of 45% from 2019, even as most other major felonies declined. Shooting incidents overall exploded 97% last year.   

Defund the police is a hashtag that has no place in our discuss of police reform.  Police reform means both letting police officers fight crime and bring swift justice to anyone whose civil rights were violated by a police officer.  I am a proponent of community policing with the goal to create more opportunities for police and community members to engage in positive ways.  It will build relationship and trust between the public and police.  By being out on the streets and in the community, it offers greater transparency and will lead to both reduction in crime rates and protection of police officers.  In addition to community policing, we need to increase training in our police departments.  When elected to City Council, I will 1) reinvest in the NYPD, 2) reinstate the Anti-Crime unit, 3) fully fund the Anti-Hate unit, 4) support the recruitment, retention and promotion of minority supervisors, and 5) work with our state elected officials on revising the current bail reform.   

While I believe that we should not impose bail on non-violent offenders; we must ensure public safety by setting bail for those who committed violent crimes.  We need to give our judges judicial discretion when setting bail if he/she have reasons to believe that the defendant may be a harm to him/herself or the general public.   

We must re-conceptualize policing and invest in it to make it a success.  We must redefine policing and if done right, restore confidence in its role in society.  We demand greater transparency and accountability, invest in recruitment and salaries to build diversity, and approach it in a holistic manner where policing is looked at from a community perspective.   

7. Do you support elimination of the retail rent tax, elimination of the GCT tax for small businesses, and a tax break for retained employees for small business?  

No, I do not support the elimination of the retail rent tax.  From how I understand the provisions of the law, its aim is to reduce the tax burden on small businesses in NYC, south of 96th street and north of Murray Street.  NYC has established a threshold-based Small Business Tax Credit against the Commercial Rent Tax.   Tax payers with more than $10 million in income do not receive any credits.  It is estimated that the law will reduce the Commercial Rent Tax liability for 2,700 small businesses, including 1,800  that will no longer pay taxes at all.   

I do support the elimination of GCT for small businesses but like CRT, we need to established a threshold-based Small Business Tax Credit against GCT.  The definition of small businesses is too vague so we must use some classification for it.  

YES, I do support a tax break for the retention of employees for small businesses.  In my plan for small business revival, I propose the use of sales tax revenue to establish a cash grant that can be reinvested into small businesses-such as employee retention and hiring employees locally.   

8. Do you support the Two Bridges community-led rezoning plan? Why or why not? Will you make this a priority if elected?  

Yes, I do support the Two Bridges community-led zoning plan.  The community-led zoning plan takes into consideration the concerns of those in the community.  It calls for height limits, requires special permits for big-box commercial stores, increase community and public open space, and provides permanent affordable housing. If elected, I would make this a priority.   

9. I live near Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and there are so many people struggling with addiction there these days, especially between Rivington and Houston. I got trained to administer Narcan and have called 911 a lot, but I’m hoping that our next city council person can be part of a solution to better serve folks who are struggling while making the playgrounds in Sara D. Roosevelt (and elsewhere in our district) more usable for kids and families (and green space and park space for kids and families is a huge issue in our district!).  How would you work to do that?  

We need meaningful and effective substance abuse intervention programs for those struggling with addiction. Parks are for all to enjoy.  To combat this issue, we need all stakeholders to be involved-such as education, law enforcement, Parks Department, and members of the community and nonprofit organizations. We can examine ways to deter drug use at the park by providing more lighting in areas where it is lacking. By partnering with community organizations, we can better understand the mindset of those who suffer from addiction and how to address ways to prevent it. By having staff on performing daily outreach with those suffering from addiction, they can identify issues that can be addressed through intervention and help.  It is important to also train staff on the safe disposal of needles, first-responder training and wellness rehabilitation.  

10. What are your 1st and/& 2nd choice rankings for Mayor?  

Ray McGuire and Kathryn Garcia 

## End Susan Lee answers.

Answers from Susan Damplo

1. With the greater awareness of the BLM movement, we have seen hard decisions need to be made to reverse racism. How will you bridge disparities in housing, parks, schools, and healthcare in these three extremely economically and racially segregated community boards, and welcome in the severely underrepresented Black community in particular to live here?

For too long, through historical techniques such as redlining, people of color have been excluded from their other neighbors. With gentrification in play, these neighbors risk being forced out of the neighborhoods they’ve lived in for generations. We need to ensure that all of our neighbors have access to affordable and sustainable housing.

We also need to ensure that our neighbors have access to green space. District 1 is underserved compared to the rest of the City. There are several projects that would severely compromise green space access in the district, including the Governors Island, SoHo/NoHo, South Street Seaport, and Two Bridges development plans. These should be postponed to be dealt with by a new administration and a new City Council. 

As a proud product of public schools, I seek to invest more in our children’s education as we rebound from the pandemic and its adverse impact on learning. The pandemic showed we need better access to broadband. As we return to in-person learning in the fall, we need to ensure that our students have access to state of the art technology and learning materials. 

This past year has underscored that healthcare is not just a human right, but also a matter of life and death. We need to ensure that our residents have access to high-quality healthcare at affordable premiums. While public healthcare options are set by the State, as your City Council member, I will bring your concerns and those of our community leaders and coalition partners to our state and federal partners. I am encouraged by Governor Cuomo’s expansion of the enrollment period for the state’s public health option through the end of the year, but more needs to be done on a permanent basis. 

All of the above, however, cannot succeed unless all our neighbors are fully included in these endeavors. For too long, people of color have been excluded from most facets and benefits of American life. For real change to occur, there must be unity in community. 

2. With the rise of anti-Asian and anti-Semitic hate incidents, as well as the trauma being experienced around the pandemic, many older adults in our community are facing new challenges, along with those they were already facing. How do you propose addressing getting more robust mental health services directed for older adults at senior centers to provide the critical support needed to address these issues, while creating communities of support and trust in our neighborhoods and centers?

The rise in hate crimes against my Asian American Pacific Islander and Jewish neighbors are distressing to us all. All community members deserve to live in safety and enjoy this City without fear.

Our elder neighbors particularly deserve to live out their winter years in peace. I will work to ensure that our City respects them and provides them health services, nutrition services, as well as social engagement opportunities. These services can be part of an overall support system that includes and promotes our senior centers, which are finally reopening after being shuttered for more than a year.  

3. Where do you stand on the Borough-based jail in Chinatown, development on Governor’s Island, the Soho rezoning, and the proposed development or extension of the shoreline downtown? Do you support the Mayor’s proposal to work with developers on the new shoreline?

The families in our district who have loved ones in detention need to be able to visit and support them. With Rikers Island closing, these families need an accessible place to have these connections. That said, the current White Street jail proposal is problematic. It is too expensive and oversized for the need, and it is being rushed through by the current administration in its final days. It should be postponed until the new administration and new City Council can make an informed decision.

I am in favor of cultural, non-profit, and educational development on Governors Island such as the Harbor School. I am opposed to commercial development such as the proposed rezoning of Governors Island South. Indeed I think the City should pursue the area for affordable housing.

I believe that the SoHo/NoHo rezoning was pushed through by the current administration in its waning days without proper community input. It disrespects the low-rise, historic character of the area. Any proposed change should be delayed for the next administration and new City Council to deal with. 

I am aware of efforts to extend the shoreline and its role in coastal resiliency. These efforts, however, will require extensive consultation with residents, coalition partners and community leaders. I do not support privatizing municipal responsibility to mitigate climate change.

4. Are you committed to refusing contributions from real estate, finance, or business lobbies?

 Yes. We need a people-centered democracy, not a PAC-centered democracy. 

 5. If elected, what values or principles will guide your actions?

 There are three core principles at the center of my campaign: improving quality of life, promoting systemic fairness and reimagining the local economy. 

We have a wide range of quality of life issues in our district, ranging from the homelessness crisis to noise pollution and empty storefronts. We also need more parks and skateparks, more green space, and more alternative forms of transportation such as expanded bike lanes. I want to make District 1 a safer, more livable neighborhood for our neighbors and families. 

Systemic fairness for all has been at the heart of my career as an attorney, advocate and community mediator. I believe in coming together to heal based on what unites us over what divides us. I believe that a fairer city comes in addressing inequities at all levels.   

Reimagining our local economy means centering our small businesses, who make up both the vast majority of our city’s businesses as well as the majority of those who have had to at least temporarily close due to COVID. We face a critical moment in our city’s history as we continue our reopening. For New York to build back better, we need our mom and pop hardware stores, bodegas and restaurants to have support and infrastructure from the City we all call home. 

6. What is your view on Gifted and Talented programs, police defunding and SHSAT tests?

I do not support tracking children in early childhood. A four-year-old child should be taken care of and in a safe environment where they can start to acquire social skills, not having to be pressured into mandated testing. The new lottery system also raises concerns about educator bias. 

I do not support defunding the police; I do support reforming the duties. I value our brave public servants in law enforcement; they are integral to protecting the rule of law and democracy. To do this, they need resources to serve and protect our community. Some roles, however, that we have assigned to them are better served by mental health professionals, social workers, and others. In addition, I will advocate for confirmation of mayoral agency heads. City Council confirmation of commissioners, including the Police Commissioner, will ensure leadership is prepared to work with the vast sums of money and large workforces that make up our City agencies to use our tax dollars most effectively. 

I oppose the SHSAT. It is a vestige of systemic discrimination. The Hecht-Calandra Act, adopted half a century ago in the 1970s, fails to promote systemic fairness, a central tenet of my platform. It should be rooted out and replaced with a 21st century standard.  

There are many other ways, more predictive of academic success than a single test. Our state executive and legislature and candidates that support this single test should rethink their positions. Otherwise they are perpetuating second class citizenship for our city’s black and brown children, who reflect 63% of our school children. The test promotes otherism and is being used as a wedge to divide our community. For example, in this district, at Stuyvesant High School, 749 students out of 23,500 eighth graders who took the test last year were offered admission. Only 8 were black students (1%). Meanwhile they are 22% of New York City’s school population). Only 20 Latino students were offered admission, or 2.67% of students. Yet they are 41% of New York City’s school population. Talent is universal. Opportunity is not. There is unequal access to resources and preparation time for the test. This City and State can and should do better. 

7. Do you support elimination of the retail rent tax, elimination of the GCT tax for small businesses, and a tax break for retained employees for small business?

As we rebuild from a devastating pandemic, I support the elimination of anything that can be a burden on small businesses to rebuild. Why tax an expense rather than revenue? The GCT tax is regressive. I support progressive taxation. We need to support and encourage small business owners as New York City reopens. I support the tax break for retained employees. 

8. Do you support the Two Bridges community-led rezoning plan? Why or why not? Will you make this a priority if elected?

I support a community-led rezoning plan for Two Bridges. At the recent community meeting, I commented that with all due respect to the community organizers, I believe that the current plan does not go far enough. I would favor a 20-story limit on any proposed development in the area. As someone who has spent her career advocating for working families, I will make any such community-led plan a priority in City Hall after consulting with neighbors, community leaders and coalition partners.  

9. I live near Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and there are so many people struggling with addiction there these days, especially between Rivington and Houston. I got trained to administer Narcan and have called 911 a lot, but I’m hoping that our next city council person can be part of a solution to better serve folks who are struggling while making the playgrounds in Sara D. Roosevelt (and elsewhere in our district) more usable for kids and families (and green space and park space for kids and families is a huge issue in our district!). How would you work to do that?

I support safe use spaces for those of our neighbors struggling with addiction as well as holistic services for those with addiction. GMHC is currently providing pilot services under the supervision of DOHMH for this.  

The status quo is broken. Working in coalition with residents, community organizations and public officials, I will advocate for services for our neighbors struggling with addiction while increasing parks, gardens, and green spaces for the community’s enjoyment. 

10. What are your 1st and/& 2nd choice rankings for Mayor?

My first choice for Mayor is Kathryn Garcia. I believe she is best qualified to lead our City. She has the most relevant skills and experience, having led city agencies, including as Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation. That skill and knowledge of budgeting and managing a large workforce at the city level is directly relevant. Her career as a municipal executive has taken a similar arc to mine as an attorney and former administrative law judge – working her way up through a very male-dominated field. As a woman running for office for the first time, I found that tremendously inspiring. 

My second choice for Mayor is Maya Wiley. As progressive Democrats, Maya and I share similar visions for fairness for all that is long overdue in our City’s history. She and I both seek to heal this City. While she does have a history of direct involvement with the current administration, I believe that she has differentiated herself and has the leadership qualities, maturity and experience to take the City in the new direction that it needs to go. 

## End Susan Damplo answers.

Answers from Maud Maron

1. With the greater awareness of the BLM movement, we have seen hard decisions need to be made to reverse racism. How will you bridge disparities in housing, parks, schools, and healthcare in these three extremely economically and racially segregated community boards, and welcome in the severely underrepresented Black community in particular to live here? 

Diverse communities are part of the strength of our District and I will work to preserve and expand the crucial diversity of downtown communities.

2. With the rise of anti-Asian and anti-Semitic hate incidents, as well as the trauma being experienced around the pandemic, many older adults in our community are facing new challenges, along with those they were already facing. How do you propose addressing getting more robust mental health services directed for older adults at senior centers to provide the critical support needed to address these issues, while creating communities of support and trust in our neighborhoods and centers?  

Especially after the isolating experience that was the pandemic lockdown, I believe that it is of the utmost importance to invest in senior centers and adult day-care programs. Not only do these centers provide incredibly necessary socialization opportunities, but they also allow us to focus resources for seniors in easily accessible locations. In addition to expanding senior centers and adult day-care programs, I would support additional funding towards expanded mental health services. Moreover, I want to encourage more local engagement with senior centers! As we move past pandemic safety measures, I will personally commit to visiting and engaging with senior centers and urging members of our community to do the same.

3. Where do you stand on the Borough-based jail in Chinatown, development on Governors Island, the Soho rezoning, and the proposed development or extension of the shoreline downtown? Do you support the Mayor’s proposal to work with developers on the new shoreline?   

I do not support the proposed jail in Lower Manhattan. In addition to the overwhelming opposition from members of the surrounding neighborhood, I believe that the borough-based jail plan is poorly thought out, does not have enough capacity for the incarcerated population of our city, and is an excuse to avoid putting work into reforming Rikers Island. Instead of spending billions on these jails, the city should focus on turning Rikers into a modern, humane, 21st century jail with sunlight and access to the outdoors. I am on the leadership committee of an organization that has a better plan, one that is both compassionate for the incarcerated and better for our city. You can read about the plan here: https://realjusticesolutions.org.

I stand in firm opposition to the proposal to redevelop 33 acres on Governors Island. As the Metro Area Governors Island Coalition has pointed out, the plan’s primary justification — financial self-sufficiency for the island — is not likely to be achieved for decades. Moreover, the current plan places little to no requirements for developers to preserve the environment or open space, and it is strongly opposed by local residents. Governors Island is a rare, but precious, green space and climate hub with a rich ecosystem and natural environment. Destroying it to build unregulated residential and commercial space would destroy a crucial haven in our city, deprive our children of a parkland, and harm the environment. While I would support some development, such as public amenities to make the island more hospitable to NYC visitors, I strongly disapprove of this current plan.

I strongly support the preservation of historic neighborhoods and am not convinced that the upzoning plan proposed by the Mayor accomplishes the goals that the administration uses to justify the plan–namely the creation of more affordable housing. Moreover, I think the rezoning plan runs the very real risk of destroying existing affordable housing in the name of creating more affordable housing–an absurdity that is baked into poorly thought out plans that the Mayor is trying to rush through at the end of his term.  Destroying existing rent regulated housing and creating expensive market rate housing is of course counterproductive to the goal of creative, affordable and diverse housing. Soho/Noho are part of our cultural inheritance and vital to our economy. We must protect them and seek to develop more housing to both address the lack of affordable housing in our city and meet the demands of a NYC that is on the path to recovering from the lockdown.

4. Are you committed to refusing contributions from real estate, finance, or business lobbies? 

Our campaign received the full amount of public matching funds this election cycle, meaning that we received small scale donations from in-district residents, and have complied with all NYC campaign finance board regulations.

5. If elected, what values or principles will guide your actions? 

I am committed to bringing back respectful public dialogue around complex issues. I am uniquely qualified to lead this charge because of the open-minded way with which I approached important but difficult problems throughout my campaign. I will demonstrate that we can care about things deeply, disagree, but still be neighbors in our community together.

6. What is your view on Gifted and Talented programs, police defunding and SHSAT tests? 

I stand in firm support of both Gifted and Talented programs and the SHSAT. The NYC public school system is routinely failing to adequately educate students, particularly Black and Hispanic Students in underserved neighborhoods. The answer to this problem is not to dispose of the SHSAT and G&T Programs, but instead to expand access to all NYC schools earlier — from universal pre-k through 8th grade. We must implement more G&T programs and more honors classes. We should support students with Disabilities and English Language Learners by ensuring mandated services are implemented early and honored. Finally, we should create more diverse and effective elementary, middle and high schools by empowering local school and parent leaders to lead efforts.

I think there are common sense ways in which the NYPD funding could be adjusted. For example, I think reform advocates and police officers alike would prefer to see more homeless services and mental illness calls handled by trained mental health professionals rather than patrol officers. However, such adjustments need to be done carefully and thoughtfully, with the input of both social services and the police. I do not support “Defund the Police”, nor do I support slashing the police budget by a seemingly arbitrary amount. We are not going to get better policing by hastily cutting funds without considering where they are needed.

7. Do you support elimination of the retail rent tax, elimination of the GCT tax for small businesses, and a tax break for retained employees for small business? 

I am passionate about bringing back small businesses and encouraging them to thrive in our District. Small businesses, which account for half of NYC private sector employment, have taken an enormous blow during the pandemic. It is clear that we must rebuild our small businesses to bring back jobs and economic prosperity. Yet, NYS and NYC government actions have made it harder for small businesses to survive, not easier; small businesses face vast and prohibitive bureaucratic burdens and obstacles. To address this, we need to elect representatives who work with, not against, our local businesses. To that end, I support these tax incentives to help both small businesses and their employees.

8. Do you support the Two Bridges community-led rezoning plan? Why or why not? Will you make this a priority if elected? 

I strongly support community-led initiatives and prefer community engagement, rather than following a top down approach driven by the Mayor. The Two-Bridges community-led rezoning plan is a locally supported initiative that understands and addresses the needs of the neighborhood and its residents and I commit to supporting it in whatever way necessary.  

9. I live near Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and there are so many people struggling with addiction there these days, especially between Rivington and Houston. I got trained to administer Narcan and have called 911 a lot, but I’m hoping that our next city council person can be part of a solution to better serve folks who are struggling while making the playgrounds in Sara D. Roosevelt (and elsewhere in our district) more usable for kids and families (and green space and park space for kids and families is a huge issue in our district!). How would you work to do that? 

This is a problem I have heard from local residents across the district, not only in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, but also Washington Square Park, Petrosino Park, and many others. I am incredibly sympathetic to the struggles of those with addiction problems and remain entirely committed to helping such people receive the physical and mental health care that they need. That being said, we do need to protect the few suitable play spaces that our children do have in District 1. I support cracking down on drug-dealing in public parks, increasing the number of NYPD street patrols, and training city-employees to deal with people suffering from addiction in a safe and yet effective manner. We can get people the help that they need without allowing drug usage to run rampant and take over the play spaces our children so desperately need.

10. What are your 1st and/& 2nd choice rankings for Mayor?   

Eric Adams, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, and Andrew Yang are all candidates with a lot to offer our city.

## End Maud Maron answers.

Answers from Gigi Li

1. With the greater awareness of the BLM movement, we have seen hard decisions need to be made to reverse racism. How will you bridge disparities in housing, parks, schools, and healthcare in these three extremely economically and racially segregated community boards, and welcome in the severely underrepresented Black community in particular to live here?

To address the disparities in housing in District 1 we need to ensure that affordable housing is prioritized in every neighborhood, not just some parts of the district. As a council member I would take significant steps to protect existing affordable housing, fully fund public housing, and use my discretionary funds for improvements. I believe the current Mandatory Inclusionary Housing paradigm limits the amount of affordable housing that can be negotiated, and would work toward a higher percentage of affordable units and deeper affordability bands. Ultimately to address inequity we need more avenues for affordable home ownership, such as Community Land Trusts, and mutual housing models. I would also prioritize an overhaul of ULURP (land use review process) so it more effectively prioritizes affordable housing, racial equity, and averting secondary displacement. This would include access to open space as well as climate justice in waterfront NYCHA properties. Health equity is a top priority for me, COVID has laid bare the deep injustices in our healthcare system- from infection to injection communities of color have been left behind. We need universal healthcare and increased taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay for it. I would work to ensure that New York City’s health systems are fully funded, and staff are trained to provide culturally competent care. Health equity also requires universal access to mental health services for all New Yorkers. My own experiences being pregnant and giving birth during the pandemic also brought the issue of maternal mortality into sharp focus for me. As council member I would prioritize addressing the disparities in health outcomes for people of color, and in particular Black
people, during pregnancy and birth.  The Council should fund and implement programs to desegregate and integrate our schools and classrooms, and expand models such as Beacon community schools, which are school-based community centers that are “one-stop shops” for families, linking mental health services, health services (vision/dental), and other supportive services into our schools. I also encourage the DoE to hire more teachers of color, so that our teachers better reflect the diversity of our public school classrooms.

Lastly, the pandemic shined a spotlight on the educational inequities experienced by low income families who do not have the same resources as families in wealthier zip codes. I strongly advocate for all families and students to have the necessary technology and access to high speed internet required for adequate learning.

2. With the rise of anti-Asian and anti-Semitic hate incidents, as well as the trauma being experienced around the pandemic, many older adults in our community are facing new challenges, along with those they were already facing. How do you propose addressing getting more robust mental health services directed for older adults at senior centers to provide the critical support needed to address these issues, while creating communities of support and trust in our neighborhoods and centers?

As a social worker expanding access to mental health services is a priority for me, we need to approach recovery with an understanding of the impacts of loss and trauma. I believe there should be trained mental health professionals in every senior center in addition to schools and shelters. I will fight for in language mental services and ensure that providers are trained to provide culturally competent care.

3. Where do you stand on the Borough-based jail in Chinatown, development on Governor’s Island, the Soho rezoning, and the proposed development or extension of the shoreline downtown? Do you support the Mayor’s proposal to work with developers on the new shoreline?

I do not support the Borough-based jail plan. While I believe that we need to close Rikers, I don’t think the plan as proposed addresses the community’s concerns. I also oppose the development proposal for Governor’s Island, the proposal does not prioritize protecting green space and there are not enough mechanisms to hold developers accountable. I participated in almost all of the meetings around the possible SoHo rezoning and am disappointed with the plan as proposed. I’m open to a possible rezoning but any plan that moves forward needs to better prioritize SoHo art’s community, include more affordability, and protect the historic center of SoHo. The current plan doesn’t address any of these needs fully. I do not support extending the shoreline.

4. Are you committed to refusing contributions from real estate, finance, or business lobbies?

Yes, I am not accepting donations from any lobbyists, real estate developers or anyone employed at a real estate development firm, or PAC.

5. If elected, what values or principles will guide your actions?

My guiding principles as a council member will be equity and access.

6. What is your view on Gifted and Talented programs, police defunding and SHSAT tests?

DOE needs to invest in making all schools high quality so families have access to high quality elementary, middle, and highschools close to home. I support expanding gifted and talented programs so they are available to more students at schools throughout the city. I also support keeping the SHSAT and expanding criteria for specialized highschool admittance.

As a social worker, I know that there are many situations where the first encounter
should not be with a police officer. We need to hold the NYPD to the same standards of transparency and accountability as all other departments to get a better sense of whats working and whats not and, where appropriate, restructure the agency, and develop plans to redirect that money to fund social services, particularly in neighborhoods  disproportionately impacted by overpolicing.

7. Do you support elimination of the retail rent tax, elimination of the GCT tax for small businesses, and a tax break for retained employees for small business?

Yes I support tax breaks for retaining employees and reducing fees that over burden small businesses.

8. Do you support the Two Bridges community-led rezoning plan? Why or why not? Will you make this a priority if elected?

Yes I support the Two Bridges community-led rezoning plan, and will make it a priority when elected. In fact, I helped develop the plan as a member of the leadership team of the Chinatown Working Group for 8 years.

9. I live near Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and there are so many people struggling with addiction there these days, especially between Rivington and Houston. I got trained to administer Narcan and have called 911 a lot, but I’m hoping that our next city council person can be part of a solution to better serve folks who are struggling while making the playgrounds in Sara D. Roosevelt (and elsewhere in our district) more usable for kids and families (and green space and park space for kids and families is a huge issue in our district!). How would you work to do that?

These problems need to be addressed both in the short term and long term. Right now we need to invest in safe injection sites, programs like the Harlem model where teams are available to respond to individuals in crisis and housing first programs. In the longer term we need to address the underlying systemic failures that cause people to struggle with addiction and not have the resources to receive help.

10. What are your 1st and/& 2nd choice rankings for Mayor?
I am ranking Yang as my number one and Wiley as my number two

## End Gigi Li answers.

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