These are not normal times, this will not be a normal election cycle and because of this, we knew we had no choice but to announce this campaign as soon as possible and start building a people powered movement to take back our district and truly serve our communities.
We are excited to join with organizers and impacted communities in a series of discussions where those closest to the pain and the work will help shape our collective agenda and policy platform. In the meantime, the principles below demonstrate the values and commitments that we are rooted in.
Care, Not Criminalization
Our communities are suffering - our youth are dying from overdose at alarming rates, crimes of desperation are on the rise, and our most vulnerable, frontline workers are risking their lives to make ends meet amidst the highest COVID case rates in the city. We need real care and help but instead, for generations we’ve been met with more violence and punishment that doesn’t address the roots of our issues or make us safer. Great leaders like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us decades ago that “violence begets violence” so it’s no surprise the data shows our out-dated systems of punishment and penalization don’t make us safer. They just turn desperate people into criminals and expand government overreach while lining the pockets of corporate profiteers. It doesn’t have to be this way. We need leaders with the humility and courage to admit when our strategies aren’t working and prioritize practical, evidence-based solutions that better our neighborhoods. Everybody has a right to live and seek a better life. If we want safe, healthy communities, then we have to come together to invest in services and approaches that center healing and restoration. We must place love and care for our neighbors at the forefront of our policy decisions. We must show compassion for the members of our community, not criminalize their humanity.
Climate & Security
As a combat veteran who has seen the destabilizing and destructive effects of endless war up close, I believe we must take a comprehensive approach to national security that leverages proactive cooperation and diplomacy to address the full scope of the dangers we face. No longer can we fail to acknowledge the realities of climate change- the largest national security threat facing our generation today. Staten Island is still reeling from the effects of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy nearly a decade after the fact while developers push to further destroy the wetlands that protected thousands of our families. We have elevated cancer rates among our elders and youth because of unsafe housing and water processing. We need to invest in building strong, sustainable infrastructure. We need to address hunger and poverty. We need to respect the land, the water, and honor the Peoples who steward them. All of these issues are not simply matters of health and safety, but matters of national security.
Education & Youth
I believe that we must uplift every part of our Staten Island community—regardless of immigration status - and invest in our future. Together we can pass legislation that ensures we are the world leaders in education by passing universal Pre-K, providing tuition free education which includes trade schools, and by focusing on the development of our youth. We need fully funded public schools filled with teachers, guidance counselors and social works- not metal detectors and police. It’s shameful and counter-productive that we have a pipeline funneling our children into prison. What we really need is wrap-around services that support whole families and ensure their success.
Jobs & Housing for All
We need to address the very foundation that our country is built upon. Every affordable housing project we fund is also a jobs program. Diverting funds from spending that is meant solely to enrich the lives of billionaires will allow us to pay union workers to fix our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The American people are ready to improve their lives to the tune of good paying, union jobs, fully funded housing, utilities and guaranteed human rights, and a fully functioning mass transit system that extends from coast-to-coast as well as addressing the more traditional infrastructure needs of a developed society. If we can pass bills that cost the American taxpayer $2.3 trillion in tax breaks for the rich, then we can improve the lives of the rest of our population.
A Just Recovery & Transition
We cannot truly heal and move forward together in unity without acknowledging the harms of the past, facilitating genuine reconciliation processes and giving reparations where they are due. Staten Island has suffered from more COVID-19 cases than any other borough in New York City. This unprecedented global pandemic continues to shine a light on the cracks that have been there needing to be fixed since the founding of American society. We can and must invest in a robust recovery that addresses the immediate crises, as well as those that have been festering for generations. As our family, friends, and loved ones suffer through these trying times, we must take the opportunity to address the underlying causes which led us to this point, and transition to systems and affirm our collective humanity.