In the race for Council District 11, I’m the only candidate who built and runs a non-profit with a million-dollar operating budget and 32 employees. People’s Theatre Project delivers free programs to 1,000 Bronx and Upper Manhattan students annually.
During this pandemic, I kept my staff members employed, and when the Summer Youth Employment Program was cut from the budget, I brought together 14 non-profits to create a free camp for more than 200 children, and secured the funding to operate it.
In my role on the leadership council of the New York Immigration Coalition, I brought my students to Albany to fight for school and adult literacy funding, met with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer to successfully advocate for the inclusion of immigrants in COVID relief, and partnered with the governor’s office to ensure vaccinations didn’t include U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement invasions.
When the Bronx became a national epicenter for the pandemic — disproportionately impacting low-income, working class and people of color in District 11 — I raised money, connected neighborhoods to relief, and organized marches to demand more from our government.
As we work to build a more resilient and humane city, we’ll need the people most affected to be empowered in decision-making processes that work toward justice. Failing to engage tenants, immigrants, small business owners, students, frontline and essential workers — at minimum — would be a dereliction of duty by every elected official in New York City.
As councilwoman, I will listen carefully to district residents as we fight like hell for:
• Fully funded and equitable public schools. I will claw back the $707 million cut away from the education department’s fiscal budget, and fight for the $168 million in Foundation Aid owed to the Bronx.
The next fiscal budget must provide adequate resources for equitable universal broadband and multi-lingual learners in District 11, as well as arts and culturally responsive education in all public schools, and adequately compensate teachers who also reflect the diversity of our classrooms.
• Small business relief and recovery. Small businesses are the heart of our communities, and a primary source of jobs. I’ll work to pass the five bills that will provide relief and support for small business owners, and reduce the number of vacant storefronts.
• Housing that is affordable. Too many Bronx residents pay too much of their income for rent, and many others are homeless or sharing overcrowded apartments. The city must build and preserve more housing that the people of the Bronx can actually afford. But it also has to be built in a way that builds communities, and that includes schools, playgrounds, and other amenities for the neighborhood.
The first and most important job of whoever wins the March 23 special election will be working on the city budget this summer.
I will not accept an austerity budget — that is, a budget full of cuts for essential services. I will work with state legislators to fight for fair taxes for the super-rich, who made billions of dollars during the pandemic, while tens of thousands of New Yorkers lost their lives and jobs.
Austerity is not how we build New York City back.
I’m running to represent a district that is majority working class and people of color. Half of us are Latino, and a third of us are immigrants. I understand many of the challenges district residents face because I’ve lived them.
I’m an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who built a new life here. I’ve worked minimum wage jobs, spent a decade without health insurance, and recently survived COVID-19.
So far, I’ve been endorsed by the Working Families Party, Communications Workers of America-District 1, Unite Here! Local 100, New York Immigration Coalition Action, The Jewish Vote, Citizen Action of NY, No IDC NY, Run for Something, Downtown Women for Change, Progressive Women of NY, and deputy leader and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
As your councilwoman, I will always put people first.
The author is a candidate for city council in the March 23 special election.