As term-limited Councilmember Alan N. Maisel (D-Canarsie, Bergen Beach, Flatlands, Georgetown, Gerritsen Beach, Marine Park, Mill Basin, Mill Island, Sheepshead Bay) leaves office at the end of 2021 along with over 30 other City Council members, a decent shift in the political landscape is seeing more and more women, particularly women of color and from diverse backgrounds, stepping up to bat in next year’s citywide elections. Maisel’s 46th District is the prime example.
“I’ll be 76 years old next year and I don’t anticipate– well I’m never running for office again. I don’t really want a full-time job, I might look for something part-time,” said Maisel of his future plans.
Maisel said even though he enjoys what he does it is time for younger people to take over, especially since most candidates running for his seat are women of color. “Certainly a lot of women are running for office and I think that’s wonderful,” he said.
Here’s a rundown of the candidates who have been busy raising money for next year’s Democratic Primary and the issues they plan to tackle.
Candidate Shirley Paul, practicing attorney and Brooklyn-native, has raised $21,088 so far. Paul said she’s focused on foreclosures and protecting against predatory lending in the district that targets Black and Brown homeowners.
Paul, who’s been on a weight loss journey recently, is motivated to keep her community health thriving. She said women of color statistically speaking are getting more educated and more involved across the board. She’s not surprised by the fact that more are running for office, and made claims that even though this was her first filing she is well on the way to outraising other candidates. While in college, Paul interned at then-Senator Joseph Biden’s office and went on to work in then-Assemblyman Frank Seddio’s office. She said she’s happy with where Biden’s campaign is and his chosen running mate U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).
Candidate Judy D. Newton, originally from a small town in Barbados, is very confident that her over 40 years of public service will give her a leg up in the city council race.
“I decided to run because that was my long, long, long time dream ever since I was 20 years old, I wanted to run for city council, and I couldn’t after a while I joined the NYPD,” said Newton who retired from the NYPD in 2012. “For me it’s about helping people I’ve dedicated myself to public service all my life.”
Newton raised $23,180 in funds, and says the figure is higher than that but because of a shift in filing dates that number isn’t reflective.
As a former officer, she said the current state of policing is at a very interesting crossroads, and there is a need for more collaborative reforms between the police and the community. Different languages, cultures, perceptions, and attitudes make up a community, she said, and “any good officer is fair and impartial, but we have to understand each other’s needs.”
In agreeance with former police chief Lori Pollock, who’s currently suing the police department on the basis of female discrimination, Newton said, “Of course there’s a glass ceiling. This is America. This is New York. It’s a male-dominated culture.”
Candidate and local community organizer Dimple Willabus has raised $20,596 in funds so far.
Willabus said that public safety is everyone’s business, meaning, as a community we have to look out for each other. If something is wrong, we have to address it collectively and maintain a proactive approach, she said.
“Chokeholds have been banned in NYC for decades. The law has only appeased the public in haste without enough meaningful change. The only way to gain meaningful change is to bring stakeholders to the table with EQUAL voices and say on what the community needs and how they would like the police to fulfill their role,” said Willabus in regards to recent police reforms passed.
“Some of the recent laws have been passed in haste without true community input and has provided a basis for an excuse for the police to say, ‘we weren’t included and now, we can’t take certain actions.’ On the other side, we have communities that are suffering under the violence and there is growing resentment in the community that the laws are only hurting them. We need to bring folks to the table and have inclusive say on re-training and truly have community-based policing.”
Willabus also had a lot to say about affordable housing issues.
“We need to work more closely with our federal representative to push for a review and change to the current [Area Median Income (AMI)] model. When communities like Canarsie have their income levels tied into the more affluent Westchester and Long Island counties, it results in a highly skewed picture on affordability. That has an adverse affect on resources and livability in those areas. The median income scales are too high and not truly reflective of NYC families,” said Willabus.
Haitian-born, long-time community leader, and activist Candidate Gardy Brazela seemed to second that sentiment towards housing issues. He’s raised a hefty $34,300 in funds so far.
“I worked for the Human Resources Administration (HRA) as an eligibility specialist where I helped many clients with public assistance. I worked in a shelter and helped clients with housing,” said Brazela. “Those living in housing units throughout New York City should live in a clean and safe environment. They deserve to have a timely response and repairs done within their apartment. I am not interested in terms. I am interested in results for them.”
Brazela said regarding the topic of remote learning and the opening of public schools in September that it’s a mistake and all parties involved should be kept safe with 100 percent remote learning.
“The concerns of parents, educators, and administrators must be taken to heart. I feel that there is a rush to reopen schools on September 10. The school system is not ready and the Mayor [Bill De Blasio] and the school’s Chancellor [Richard Carranza] knows it. We should start with remote learning and provide safe locations for children of workers to receive their remote instruction. Nationally, there has been an increase in Covid-19 cases amongst children,” said Brazela.
Candidate Mercedes Narcisse, who is a frontline nurse, is just as heavily invested in the healthcare and safety of the community.
Narcisse said she’s been working during the course of the COVID crisis and has lost an innumerable amount of friends, colleagues, and patients over the months. She used to work at Elmhurst Hospital.
“Even though we’re in a better position, and we have more PPE available, some knowledge,” said Narcisse, “I wish we could get young folks more engaged in wearing the masks.”
She had some nurses and unions flatout tell her the city hospitals are not treating them right while private hospitals give bonuses, she said. “It’s unfair. I know the budget is tight, I know we’re in a tight ship right now in the city, state, and U.S,” she said, “so yes as a nurse it’s hitting home.”
She said in terms of the $ 31,195 raised, she hadn’t really been focused on fund-raising but was pleased to have made a good amount in comparison to others.
Zuri Jackson couldn’t be reached.