Op-Ed: Local Leadership Matters

Turn on the television today, or pick up a newspaper, and you’ll find news about Donald Trump—what he did or didn’t do regarding Ukraine and investigations of the Bidens, the latest public opinion polls on support for impeachment, and how Democrats are trying to beat him in 2020. He has dominated national news coverage every single day since he announced his campaign for President, and it is his most remarkable achievement that we find ourselves glued to his every word and tweet. But when we expend all our political energy in the form of outrage at the President we have none left to spend where it matters most—right here in our own communities and neighborhoods.

I’m running for State Assembly to refocus our attention on District 73. And as a former award-winning reporter for the nation’s most popular Trump-free newscast, I know how to do just that. I’m running to refill vacant storefronts with bustling local businesses; to beautify our public spaces and create new parks; to oppose measures that will limit our freedom of movement and further raise our cost of living; to ensure that new development adds value without threatening the aesthetic integrity and historical character of our neighborhoods; to revitalize the robust social fabric that has long defined the Upper East Side, Sutton Place and Murray Hill; to listen—something our politicians could do more of; and to provide you, the voters and residents of this district, with a voice in Albany. 

I’m not asking you to ignore what’s happening at the national level. Quite the opposite, I’m asking you to send me to Albany as your representative so that together we can breathe new life into local self-governance, and in doing so, change the national political narrative.

We can show the country that our democracy is alive and well, and that it works best when it is injected with energy from the bottom up. We can show the country that the most enduring kind of change begins in community board meetings and participatory public dialogues. We can show the country that the safest way to prepare for an uncertain future is to act now and to act with the input of every generation. And together we can create and enact policies that will serve as an example for urban communities across the country looking to address the economic and environmental realities of the 21st century. 

As for me, I have called this district home my entire life. I went to pre-school at Temple Emanu-El and spent 9 years at Allen-Stevenson. I spent my weekends playing Yorkville basketball at Wagner, running miles around the Great Lawn, and enjoying burgers at JG Melons. I volunteered with Best Buddies and All-Souls Soup Kitchen. I know as well as anyone that what makes this community special is the willingness of its individuals to give back and pay it forward. And growing up here has instilled in me the value of public service and the importance of taking action to improve one’s community. That’s why I take every new vacancy on Lexington Avenue personally, and every new bill passed in Albany seriously. 

I’m running to offer full-time, full-term representation, ethical leadership, and new, actionable ideas focused on meeting the needs of our communities. And I’m running now because there’s no time to waste.

Cameron Koffman is a Democrat running for New York State Assembly in the 73rd District.

[Editor’s Note: It is the policy of New York County Politics to run any op-ed it receives, with few exceptions. The op-eds do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of NYCP.]