This Sunday, I will celebrate Father’s Day with my wife Lalena and my two sons, Kevin and Miles. In some ways, it will be a familiar scene. Like always, I’ll spend the day with my boys, probably get a card they made in school and watch Kevin play in his championship baseball game.
Although, in one way, it will be different. This is the first Father’s Day in which I’ll be a candidate for public office. I’m running for City Council in the 41st District because I care about the people of my community and I’m ready to fight to make their lives better, but more importantly, I’m running as a father who wants to create a brighter future for his kids.
I was born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant and grew up in [NYCHA’s] Tompkins Houses. Every morning, I watched my father wake up and go to his job as a factory worker. Because of the security his job provided for my family, I was able to stay in the community I grew up in. Now, my own sons have watched me leave for work in the morning as a train conductor for the MTA and more recently, as the District Manager of Community Board 3.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for many children in our district. At 14.2%, we have the 12th highest unemployment rate in the city and many parents cannot provide for their families. Growing up, I saw many of my friends fall victim to a lack of opportunity and job security and ended up on the street or incarcerated. The correlation between unemployment and crime is undeniable and it’s a vicious cycle.
I plan to change that narrative. The most important thing I can do for the kids of this community, as well as my own, is to provide their parents with secure jobs and steady wages, which is why I’ve recently published a three-point plan that promises to bring jobs to the district.
In the past, leaders at every level of government have been clear that they don’t want to invest in our district. They’ve let us fall behind and the results of this are problematic. On top of our high unemployment, the rate of homelessness is growing. Devastatingly, one out of six of District 41 school children have been homeless in the last five years. As a father, that breaks my heart and is completely unacceptable. With more jobs and higher wages, we can drastically decrease homelessness and even crime.
When I look at my boys, I’m reminded why I decided to run for City Council in the first place. Like every parent, I want to give them a better life than the one I’ve had and give them opportunities that I was never afforded. I wholeheartedly believe that economic development is the key to achieving this. If this plan is realized, I promise to take care of the people of the 41st District the same way I take care of my own family.
From my family to yours, Happy Father’s Day to my wonderful community.
Editor’s Note: KCP posts all op-eds it receives as long as they are not derogatory or degrading in tone, and even then, if the writing is done as satire or in humor, it may be posted. This includes op-eds from all candidates for public office, and we extend an open invitation for candidates to submit op-eds to us. These op-eds are not KCP endorsements for any particular candidate.