My name is Jessica Haller, and I’m a working mother of four, a technology entrepreneur, and a climate activist trained by Al Gore.
I am running to represent the wonderful, diverse neighborhoods of District 11 on the New York City Council because I know that the world is on fire. I often ask myself how my four children will survive as we undergo such drastic change — environmentally, technologically and economically.
Looking around at our neighborhoods, I see that the Bronx is last among New York state counties in health outcomes, and lags the country in terms of economic opportunity.
How will all our children thrive if schools are failing, our housing system is broken, and the very air they breathe is making them sick?
The only way forward is if we stand up to the political machine that got us into our predicament. For decades, this area has been under the thumb of a “reform” Democratic club that financed and helped re-elect a state senator who created and led the Independent Democratic Conference. This group kept legislation that would have advanced women’s rights, expanded health care for all, and would have helped the environment of our neighborhoods from becoming law in New York.
After thus standing in the way of progress, this club is now seeking to establish a political dynasty by anointing the son of our 30-year Assemblyman its candidate for the city council. This is not progress, it is nepotism.
The “old boys’ club” told me that I should “wait my turn” before running for office.
But our world is on fire now. The ”heat islands” that make many of our streets unbearable in the summer, the polluted air that gives the Bronx some of the nation’s highest asthma rates — and that contributed so much to our high COVID-19 deaths — are happening now. We do not have time to wait.
I launched this campaign in January 2020 on a platform of equity, resilience and sustainability because the solutions to the challenges we face are all connected.
With leadership experience in the private sector as an entrepreneur creating jobs, in the non-profit sector leading the largest faith-based environmental organization in the United States, and in government, building tools to connect government to the people, I have a track record of creating effective solutions that solve multiple problems at once.
We need people in office who understand that everything is connected: resilience and housing, sustainability and transportation, and equity and jobs.
Locally, I was a co-op board president, securing financial stability for the building. I was chair of the committee that launched our beloved Riverdale Sunday Market. During COVID-19, I created a way to ensure older adults received kosher food when the city was not yet providing, while supporting local businesses at the same time.
I am proud of the endorsements the campaign has received: our former councilman, Oliver Koppell; state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi; former council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; No IDC NY, 21 in ’21; Bronx Climate Justice North; the League of Conservation Voters; and more.
There is much work to be done to address the climate crisis, reform the criminal justice system, make our neighborhoods safer, battle systemic racism, provide quality public education to all of our children regardless of which neighborhood they live in, ensure that our senior citizens have what they need, and that our post-pandemic world is rebuilt fairly.
We must all participate.
We have learned over the past five years that we cannot sit idly by and expect that our political leaders will know and do what’s best for us. We must create the world we want to live in.
Please vote in the special election on March 23. I humbly ask that you make me, Jessica Haller, your first choice. Thank you.
The author is a candidate for city council in the March 23 special election.