Elizabeth Adams, the 31-year-old legislative director for term-limited City Councilmember Stephen Levin (D-Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, Fulton Ferry, Greenpoint, Vinegar Hill, Williamsburg) know full well that his replacement running in next year’s citywide elections will likely be walking into a city government in crisis, in which the COVID-19 pandemic leaves the city with devastating economic and health conditions ,and social upheaval.
But Adams believes that the solution to rebuilding what COVID-19 destroyed lies ultimately with the local representatives, a primary reason she is running for Levin’s 33rd council district seat. And as she has already raised a hefty $30,151 for the campaign to succeed her boss, she is an early frontrunner in what is expected to become a crowded field.
“So many of these issues are really important to focus on in terms of local impact- the budget of the NYPD, the budget of our school system, of how much we put into our public hospitals, all of that is super local,” Adams said, “and it’s what has such a direct impact on our families and our loved ones.”
Adams, who worked for Planned Parenthood before coming to Levin’s office, explained that the pandemic didn’t create but exposed inequities in the system that needs up-to-date solutions, a statement that fits with the energetic-and-progressive campaign Adams is running.
Among these exposed inequities are the problems that small business owners face and who report hardships to her in keeping up with the rent demands despite any lack of revenue.
“It’s not okay that I hear from locals, from restaurants or retailers who say ‘I’m still getting charged every month’,” Adams said. “The number one issue that I hear from small businesses is really around the rent challenges. I think our government needs to take on a means to provide a rent relief assistance program for small businesses who have been hit by who have been impacted by COVID.”
As for how the district is going to regenerate the lost revenue in part due to all the bankrupt businesses, Adams turned to the old but ever-present solution of taxing the wealthy, mentioning her support for the billionaires’ tax.
Progressive lawmakers in the state legislature recently introduced a tax as a part of a “Make Billionaires Pay” campaign that would make New York’s billionaires pay about $5 billion a year in taxes. The tax would impose a new form of capital gains tax on New Yorkers with $1 billion or more in assets.
As for the fears that the wealthy may continue to ship out of New York at the very sound of these proposals, Adams explained, “It’s an issue of equity. I think what is happening instead is that lower-income families who are unemployed and who are facing eviction, they’re at risk of leaving our city. So I think it’s really important that we show up for them and for people who have done everything they could and who have been so hard hit by this pandemic.”
Brooklyn residents who have been hit hard with the pandemic are also being slammed with a recent wave of gun violence. An affect, some people blame, from the “defund the NYPD” initiative that gained traction after the murder of George Floyd.
ButAdams made it clear, however, that she supported the “defund the police” movement and found that the immediate problems of gun violence in our streets are best resolved by deeper investments in community programs.
“This isn’t a result of the Council’s budget vote, which didn’t go far enough to reduce police funding, but part of a nationwide trend caused by a global pandemic,” Adams said.
Despite the stressful nature of politics, Adams conveyed the inspiration she felt as a young child growing in multicultural Brooklyn and the drive it gave her to bring those diverse voices to the table.
“I think it’s really important that people with direct experience are driving informing conversations and policy. I’m not running this for myself. I’m running in mind with the organizations I advocated with and for the people in my community too.”