Who am I?
I have always felt a deep connection to the people in my home neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn. Every year as a child, I met hundreds of community members, young and old, while walking park-to-park selling icies (piraguas) with my father Julio, and door-to-door with my mother Marisol selling Avon.
At age 12, I became one of the founding youth members of Make the Road New York. Since I graduated from school, Ive been lucky enough to spend my career fighting to establish real justice for NYCs underserved communities.
Ive organized around many issues, including community-police relations, student safety and opportunity, immigrant rights, and discrimination in the justice system.
Why am I running?
I am running for political office to address the entrenched disenfranchisement of poor and immigrant New Yorkers: When I talk to people in the community, I hear time and again how they feel unrepresented in government and how they need elected officials that are committed to taking action. Brooklyn has been represented by unresponsive political dynasties for too long, and its residents deserve representation that will be responsive and accountable. If I am elected, I will fight for a robust social justice agenda including: successful schools and jobs for youth; safe and affordable housing; justice and fair wages for all workers; transparent and accountable government.
Successful schools and jobs for youth:
Last year, when the city and state planned to cut Metrocards for students I helped organize a successful citywide student campaign to stand up for educational opportunity. In districts like mine where families may struggle to come up with the $4.50 a day it costs to commute to school, it is crucial to make schools as accessible as possible and it is very important that the local communitys voice be heard on these issues. If elected, I would fight to put back more power in the hands of parents and local community members rather than city and state bureaucrats.
Additionally, teachers can have a tremendous impact, especially in neighborhoods with few positive role models. We must make sure they have the resources to succeed, including collective bargaining rights, adequate school supplies, professional development opportunities and flexibility in designing culturally sensitive curriculum.
Justice and fair wages for all workers:
At Make the Road New York, I helped mobilize the community in support of the Wage Theft Protection Act, which helps raise wage standards and makes it harder for unscrupulous employers to rob from their workers undercut high-road employers. We must build off of the WTPA by cracking down on contractors who improperly designate their workers independent contractors and we must provide funding for much more vigorous labor law enforcement by the Department of Labor.
Additionally, my father is a proud member of DC 1707 and if elected, I will be extremely vigilant against efforts in New York to copy Wisconsin and New Jersey and other states where conservatives are eliminating the rights of public sector unions to organize and collectively bargain.
Transparent and accountable government:
Money dominates our government. Rather than listening to voters talk about the problems in their neighborhoods and developing solutions to address those issues, candidates and elected officials spend their time listening to lobbyists and major donors.
New York State needs comprehensive campaign finance reform. Although there are various proposals for improving our current system, New York City actually provides the legislature with an excellent model that has already proven itself effective.
I believe we should enact a similar system at the state level. One good version of this model was passed by the Assembly in 2008. I would champion this legislation, or a similar proposal, which democratizes the campaign financing system, lets candidates focus on listening to voters instead of lobbyists, and prevents corporations and wealthy donors from buying elections.
In addition, I strongly support reform of the special election process (which currently allows party bosses to name people to their parties lines without giving voters any choice) and comprehensive redistricting reform along the lines that Governor Cuomo has proposed.
My DFA Values
This legacy campaign is missing this information
My Campaign is People Powered!
I am a reform candidate running against two machines that have not and will not represent the interests and the values of their constituents. My grassroots campaign has been funded almost solely by small donations from individuals whereas my opponents have chosen to accept substantial donations from slumlords, corporations and lobbyists. If I am elected I will fight to improve the lives of the community members that elected me not the real estate and healthcare special interest groups that my opponents are beholden to.
Turnout is traditionally very low in the 54th Assembly District. As a candidate, I have organized voter registration drives that outreached to youth and the hip hop generation. I hope through my campaign to inspire traditionally disenfranchised individuals to become involved in the political process and add important new voices and manpower to the national progressive movement.
My candidacy has been endorsed by Democracy for New York City the local chapter of Democracy for America.