Quality of Life
There is a sense that our quality of life is diminishing — wages are stagnant and inequality is increasing. I’ve made fighting to improve our quality of life in the Bronx a hallmark of my work as District Manager of Community Board 2. We have worked to increase access to transportation by getting the Bx46 bus line; improved safety for pedestrians and motorists at Bruckner Blvd; made Hunts Points safer by shutting down all five topless establishments; moved Community Precinct Council meetings out into the community and increased transparency in community-police relations; and worked to lower car and homeowner insurance for local families by removing Rikers Island statistics from our local precinct’s reports. As your next Council Member I will continue to fight to improve the quality of life for all of our families.
Jobs and Economic Development
As a Councilman, no issue would be more important than working to create good-paying jobs for all of those across the community. On our Community Board, I fought for and received funding for the Hunts Point Market, and believe that we need to continue to do more to create economic development in our part of the Bronx.
With a construction boom on the waterfront in the South Bronx happening today, we need to ensure the jobs surrounding those projects are given to those in the community, and that they are that these workers are provided with opportunities to organize and collectively bargain. As District Manager of Community Board 2 I have fought to secure local hiring on development projects, and I’ll do the same on the City Council.
We also need to ensure that new food industry and retail jobs created are given to the community as well, and I support a $15 minimum living-wage to ensure those who are able to work can do so without having to live in poverty.
As a father myself, it is incredibly important to me that we work to make our local public schools strong. As a Council Member, I would be a strong advocate for public education and would actively work with principals and teachers to identify additional resources, and help increase parent involvement in and out of the classroom.
I believe all students – regardless of their race or economic status – deserve the tools needed to succeed, and would work on the Council to provide resources for priorities such as additional after-school opportunities, improved technology in classrooms and expanded free meal programs to students in need.
We also need to work to stop the over-reliance on testing in the classroom, increase opportunities to provide students with better skills in math and science, and preserve universal Pre-K opportunities.
We must also work to increase parental involvement in our children’s education. No one can do it alone – not parents, teachers or administrators. We must come together as a community to engage in our public schools and ensure that we get our fair share of resources from the city and state.
Some of the communities in our part of the Bronx continue to face tremendous challenges with crime and violence, and we need to do all we can to work to keep our streets safe. As Community Precinct Council President, I increased the number of the 41st Precinct Council meetings from 10 to 12 annually, and moved them across the community to attain better input from our residents. And to increase transparency I required that all CCRB (Civilian Complaint Review Board) complaints be reported at Precinct Council meetings.
I’ve also worked to shut down establishments that have been havens for crime in the past, and I’m proud to say that I was influential in shutting down all 5 of the topless entertainment venues that plagued the Hunts Point community for years. I also led the fight to toughen applications for liquor licenses to reduce crime and violence, and owners today are now required to sign stipulation agreements with board leadership agreeing to comply with community requests before attaining a license.
It is very important that we improve the relationships between the community and the police, and our beat cops should be engaged in the community, and familiar with our residents. I’m proud to say that this past year, the 41st precinct ranked as one of the best in the entire city, and we need to continue to do more to work together to keep our streets safe.
After spending over a dozen years working in healthcare to expand access for low-income and working families in our community, I know firsthand that the Bronx can no longer afford to be classified as the least-healthy county in New York.
We need to find new ways to ensure greater access to healthcare – especially in impoverished and minority communities. On the City Council, I will be a strong advocate for finding ways to curb many of the health issues we face – including asthma and other respiratory disease, obesity and diabetes.
I also believe that we need to fight for additional resources for behavioral health issues, specifically mental health and addiction.
The South Bronx is booming – and we are seeing growth here in the housing market that we have not seen in decades. However, we need to ensure that we take the necessary steps to keep housing affordable for our existing families, and affordable enough to attract new families as well. We also should take steps to lower other costs and bills for our families, and I’m proud to have spearheaded lower car and homeowner insurance premiums for local families by pushing to remove Rikers Island Crime stats from the 41st precinct CompStats. Additionally, as District Manager I helped lead an initiative to make sure that local residents clean up their credit and have support completing applications to qualify for affordable housing that becomes available in our community.
Finally, we need to ensure we provide the necessary resources to our NYCHA developments to repair and restore our public housing stock to be ready for the years to come.
Our residents deserve affordable and efficient transportation options, and it is important that we allocate the resources necessary to continue to improve on public transportation as well as other infrastructure.
As Community Board district manager, I am proud to have won approval for the new Bronx 46 bus line, which travels through Longwood and Hunts Point to provide access to our parks and waterfront, and I hope this can be a model for how we can increase needed transportation service to, from and throughout the Bronx.
It’s also critically important that we invest in initiatives that increase the safety for both drivers and pedestrians. Recently, we improved the safety of Bruckner Boulevard in Hunts Point, which previously had the highest number of pedestrian / vehicular accidents in the Bronx, and it has been a success. We should continue to find ways to identify and improve other high-accident intersections and areas throughout the community as well.
There is no doubt that homelessness continues to negatively impact far too many Bronx families and we need to identify additional resources and create other partnerships to help bring those who are homeless in from the streets.
This is especially important for our homeless youth and veterans. It is simply unacceptable that in some parts of the Bronx, 1 in 10 school aged children are identified as homeless – and we must do more to eliminate this severe poverty.
Furthermore, our homeless vets deserve to be connected with resources they may need to combat depression, addiction or other health needs, as well as career services possibly needed to get back on their feet.