Q. Please give us a brief bio
A. I began my career teaching bilingual math and science at junior high school 149 in the Bronx. I went on to found a community development credit union here uptown, Neighborhood Trust, which has given over $15 million in small loans to help low-income families buy home computers, start small businesses, and pay for education.
I also served as Executive Director of Teach for America New York, and as Executive Director of the Center for Afterschool Excellence.
In 2007, I was elected Democratic District Leader, and in 2009 I founded the Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan. Both the club and I have been actively involved in protecting tenants rights, improving local schools, defending women’s right to chose, banning hydrofracking, and promoting LGBT rights.
Q. Why are you best person for the job?
A. I have been in the trenches fighting for social and economic justice uptown for two decades. As a former public school teacher, public school parent, founder of a community development non-profit, and founder of a Democratic club I have worked directly on the most pressing issues confronting our community. In every endeavor I have taken on, I have built coalitions as diverse as our community. And I’ve done it again in this City Council race, with support from an incredibly broad and diverse group of grassroots leaders, labor unions, progressive groups, and elected officials. [See www.votelevine.com/endorsements for list of supporters]
Q. What are some of the biggest issues facing the people of the 7th district?
A. Affordable housing is the biggest crisis facing our district. Renters are facing aggressive landlords attempting to push out long-time residents so they can dramatically raise rents. Education is also a top priority here, as fewer than 20% of students in our local school district are graduating college-ready. We also face as number of economic challenges here, with particular needs in our small business sector.
Q. What are some of the concrete steps you will take to address those issues?
A. I want to provide all tenants in housing court with attorneys to level the legal playing field, and I want to accelerate the construction of new affordable housing uptown. I will fight to improve education with universal pre-K, expanded after-school, and fight for less emphasis on high-stakes standardized tests. I will work to dramatically increase the availability of capital to our vital local businesses.
Q. Any final thoughts?
In recent years New York City has worked great for the most well-off, but middle class and low-income families are struggling more and more. We need to make this city a place that works for EVERYONE, so that all New Yorkers can have an affordable home, a good school for their kids, and a job that pays a decent wage.