June 23 is the Democratic primary election, and I am asking our community to vote in big numbers to re-elect me and our local team of Democratic Party officials who are leading our drive to elect Democrats up and down the line — from president to the most local party positions like Democratic district leaders Randi Martos and Eric Dinowitz, and Democratic state committee member Helen Morik.
In normal times, I would write about living in the Bronx all my life, or some of the 150 laws that I have passed, or the millions of dollars of funding I secured for local organizations and the many issues in our community that I have worked so hard on.
But these are not normal times.
We have lost more lives in 12 weeks during this coronavirus pandemic than we have lost in any war the United States has fought, except the Civil War, World War I and World War II. We have a higher unemployment rate than at any time since the Great Depression.
Beyond the twin crises of pandemic and economic collapse, we also are experiencing an incredible surge in energy to combat systemic racism and improve police accountability. While I don’t blame Trump and his Republican quislings for the existence of COVID-19, I think he deserves blame for his disastrous, incompetent and heartless response. I believe his actions (or lack thereof) are directly responsible for the magnitude of these crises.
By necessity, much of the response to COVID-19 must be done by the executive branch of government, but the legislative branches on all levels of government have an important role to play, and the state legislature as met the challenge. The work I am doing falls into two categories: My work in the community, and my work as a lawmaker.
As a community advocate, my office is working harder than ever to help constituents solve problems and address local issues. We have helped thousands of our neighbors with critical unemployment benefits, access to food and emergency supplies (including kosher meals), navigation of emergency regulations during COVID-19, and more during these crises.
We have checked in with police precincts, food pantries, community centers, senior centers and other organizations, and distributed hand sanitizer and face masks so that they are better protected while serving our community.
We have been sharing valuable information and tips (and, occasionally, my thoughts on an issue of the day) three to four times each week by email. We have organized virtual town hall meetings and launched a weekly “COVID Conversations” virtual series every Thursday evening to discuss important topics with a relevant guest.
I believe the most helpful thing to do right now is make sure people have access to information they need about what needs to be done.
As a lawmaker, the legislature passed more than 30 COVID-related bills — including two of my own. One bill would prevent a landlord from evicting a tenant who has, during the COVID-19 emergency, fallen behind in rent. It provides that the landlord could get a money judgment from a court, but not an eviction judgment.
The other bill creates a statewide standard to protect paratransit riders and workers.
We passed other bills to help struggling renters and homeowners, protect New Yorkers’ rights, increase absentee ballot access, support workers and small business, address demographic disparities in health outcomes, and more. Many of the issues exacerbated by the virus have been around for a long time, but these crises have made clear the immediate need for change.
The world has changed in the blink of an eye. This is an extraordinary time, and we need a leader who can continue delivering results for the people of the 81st Assembly District. I ask my neighbors to re-elect me to the Assembly, as well as our local fighters leading the way to beat Trump: Democratic district leaders Randi Martos and Eric Dinowitz, and state committee member Helen Morik.
All eligible voters may vote by absentee ballot (something which I led the way in fighting for), or in person at M.S./H.S. 368 (IN-Tech Academy) on Tibbett Avenue from June 13 through June 21, or at your regular polling place on June 23.
The author is the incumbent for New York’s 81st Assembly District.