The 2020 New York State Senate race just gained another formidable challenger, as Bushwick native Andy Marte intends to challenge Senator Julia Salazar for her seat representing the 18th district, which covers Bushwick, Cypress Hills, Greenpoint, Williamsburgh and parts of Bedord-Stuyvesant, Brownsville and East New York. The exact date of his official announcement is unknown, but Marte plans to formally announce his bid in the coming weeks.
Having grown up in Bushwick, Marte proudly describes himself as a product of his district. When asked his reason for running, Marte said, “I would like to give our community another voice. The good thing about democracy is people can put their competing ideologies in place and let their communities have a choice.”
“I think there are a lot of people who I grew up around who don’t have the same opportunities that the Senator and I have had, getting an education and excelling,” Marte continued. “I think the current atmosphere is just getting rid of people and their communities through whatever mechanism, and it’s not the solution. We need to take a step back and give people a new way of engaging with their elected officials and their government. I want to put this message out there to explore.”
Marte’s primary intention is to begin an honest conversation about the struggles people face in Brooklyn, many of which he has experienced himself. “It’s even difficult for me to find somewhere to live and reasonably priced food [in my district], and I can’t go shopping where I used to go shopping,” Marte adds. “There are a lot of factors that feed into it, but I haven’t seen anyone take leadership and try to provide some reasonable solutions. With my experience in politics and my education, I feel like I could be a good voice for that.”
Marte feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to “leave Bushwick for a time and get an education away from here”, and be successful enough to move back. He earned a degree in government from Georgetown University and has worked in a myriad of political circles. Marte explains, “I’ve worked in everything from a local county committee seat election all the way up to the president, in different capacities.”
Marte’s experience is in education and sociology. He has worked in affordable housing and education at RiseBoro, a community revitalization organization, as well as working in an HIVsubstance abuse program in Williamsburg called La Nueva Esperanza.
Marte wants to leverage his unique experiences into tangible solutions for his constituency. His team is working on a plan he hopes will “solidify what we believe the community wants.” Marte hopes to look past surface issues and address the root of the problem. Marte explains, “One of the points we want to look at is using education as a tool to be able and come back to live in your neighborhood. My story is an example of that, so how do we multiply that, as opposed to being bought out or displaced. Once a neighborhood becomes hot, it’s difficult to slow down developers and displacement. I think we need to increase education amongst the long-time community members in order to inform them to take advantage of what’s around.”
Marte believes there is a cultural movement giving politicians the cover to avoid complex issues. “We’re living in an era of protest, protest, protest, and we need to get past the protesting and get solutions – real results for people,” Marte said. “I think that’s what the community actually needs, not protest just for the sake of it.”
But Marte isn’t concerned about the logistics of running a campaign. He concluded, “My goal is to be a people-powered campaign, Barack Obama style. I was a delegate for President Obama and I intend to learn how he did things. Like speaking to people in public housing developments, who are going through all kinds of things, and affordable housing units I’ve worked in, and neighboring organizations around the area. It’s my goal to be people-powered. We have a plan to host a number of small fundraisers, but at the end of the day, I don’t think money is the be-all-end-all in a campaign.”