Brooklyn native son and Democratic District leader for the 58th Assembly District, Cory Provost is one of the more seasoned candidates in the race for term-limited Councilwoman Darlene Mealy’s 41st council seat.
The district includes East Flatbush, Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Ocean Hill-Brownsville. Provost’s main goals, if elected, will be educational and criminal justice reform.
Provost believes that an overhaul to the prison system needs to be a priority, in particular he feels Rikers Island should be closed.
According to the Department of Corrections of NYC, people aged from 18-29 make up almost 40% of new admissions to Riker’s with a staggering 93% of the being males and over 50% of them being African-American. Brooklyn sends the highest number of inmates to Rikers with one-fifth of the population originating from the borough. Back in 2012, Brownsville was one of neighborhoods supplying the highest number of inmates to prisons.
“I support the efforts to close Rikers. I think it’s long overdue. When I look at this Council district. The 11212 zip code, they send more prisoners to Rikers Island than any other zip code, in the borough. I think it’s the second largest in the city. Then we also have the 11231 zip code, again [ sending a high rate of prisoners to Rikers], and I think that’s very telling and something has to be done about that. I think the amount of money we spend sending people to Rikers, the overwhelming majority of these people have committed non-violent offenses. Not paying the fare on a bus and missing a court date, that makes no sense to me. We’re spending more on prisoners than we are on k-12 students,” said Provost.
Provost originally got his initial spark for politics as the youngest member of the Board of Trustees for the City University of New York (CUNY) in 2009, where he was involved with the shaping of public higher education of the city. At the same time, he was a Trustee to the Higher Education Services Corporation, the government agency responsible for managing the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). While working with the city through CUNY, Provost saw an opportunity to make a direct difference in his community when the 58th Assembly District Democratic leadership seat opened. Although the young politician didn’t succeed then, he was successful in winning the seat in 2011, besting incumbent Weyman Carey.
“When it comes to education, the city can definitely afford to make university [education] free, if they wanted to. It’s really about political will and reallocating the budget. I think that’s something we can try to do and it’s something that I would like to see happen. I know that the talk right now is community college. I think when you look at the amount of money we spend anyway through TAP Grants and other financial aid resources, we could broaden that out if we wanted to,” said Provost.
Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a tuition-free program for middle-to-low income NYC families. Program eligibility will allow any New Yorker making $125,000 or less a year to attend any CUNY or SUNY two-year or four-year college for free. The Excelsior Program will be phased in over the course of three years, beginning in the Fall of 2017 and reaching full-enrollment by 2019.
According to his biography, Provost helped organize the Brooklyn College Mentoring Alliance Shadow Day, which brought teenagers from lower socioeconomic backgrounds into college classrooms, giving them a glimpse of the promise of higher education while at Brooklyn College.
Though Provost’s base is in East Flatbush, he believes that he has appeal in all of the neighborhoods in the district.
“My track record speaks for itself. I know that there has not been another candidate in this race that I think has impacted or played a role or engaged every part of this council district that I have. Everyone that I have seen has kind of stayed in their own little area, from campaigning for Hillary, which covered the whole borough, before that working with [Comptroller] Scott Stringer, Central Brooklyn was my area. Bringing the Comptroller’s office and it’s resources to these areas. The success and the things that we’ve done in East Flatbush is something, I know I can replicate throughout the district,” said Provost.
Provost was vocal in his support for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, organizing multiple “Get Out the Vote” events across Brooklyn and East Flatbush to promote the democratic nominee.
The eight-way race includes other heavy favorites such as District Manager of Community Board 3 Henry Butler and former Chief-of-Staff to Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, Alicka Samuel. The primaries will take place on Sept. 12 with the general elections on Nov. 7.