Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of City Council District 38’s neighborhoods of Sunset Park and Red Hook back in 2012, but first-time city council candidate Jacqui Painter campaign message links back to that superstorm saying, “we will not be washed away.”
Painter is one of several candidates looking to succeed term-limited City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca.
“We are a neglected community,” said Painter, adding when she is elected she will make sure this will change.
To the 27-year-old Brooklyn native, what district 38 needs is a relentless pursuer for the issues that affect those in the district including housing rights, climate change legislation, and immigrant rights.
Gentrification and the displacement of people from their homes after Sandy hit is one aspect of housing rights that Painter promises to address in her campaign’s cornerstone issue of housing rights.
She wants to put those words to paper though and assured that if elected, she will advocate for rent-stabilization for small business, tie up zoning of residential blocks to affordable housing needs, and create a citywide income tax credit for renters.
Painter was unsettled over the state of the Red Hook Houses – Brooklyn’s largest public housing development with almost 3,000 apartments. To her, a much-needed conversation needs to ensue over those residents gaining access to resiliency flood protection work.
“Some of the conditions that people live in are just inhumane and it honestly should just be illegal for NYCHA to get away with it,” Painter said.
The pandemic has added problems to the already growing list that her district is facing but Painter said she is determined that district pull through the city’s economic and health crisis in better shape.
“I know that this community in district 38 is not weak. It’s exactly the opposite, especially in the face of disaster,” Painter said.
When it comes to police brutality and the NYPD’s budget – a topic in the public discourse ever since the killing of George Floyd amid a large increase in violent crime – Painter expressed a radical approach to the issue.
“We need to defund the police, period,” Painter said. She supports cutting the NYPD budget in half in the next fiscal year, with the overarching goal of abolishing the police altogether.
Coupled with that, Painter wants to focus on proposing legislation to make the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) an elected body and give them the power to fire officers after an investigation if it concludes the officer is guilty of misconduct.
A big part of the solution, according to Painter, is focusing more on de-escalation and if that means defunding the police, then she is all for it. “We need to put money in programs like restorative justice programs, social working with after school programs. Funding programs like these, especially in our public schools, will help keep our communities safe,” she said.
Painter’s comments come as the traditionally low-crime 76th precinct covering Red Hook has seen four murders so far this year as compared to none last year, and overall felony crime is up nearly five percent over last year including large increases in reported shootings, burglaries and car theft.
However, in the traditionally low-crime 72nd Precinct, overall felony crime is down over eight percent for the year with zero murders
Although Painter’s activism began when she was a young teenager in high school, the love for her community had been instilled in her earlier when she ran along the rocks of the East River with her friends.
“Growing up in New York City on the waterfront, I think is a very unique experience,” she said. Those memories sparked an interest in climate change and led her into the political realm and Painter knows that she can bring the change her community needs.
“We need someone that won’t give up, even if it seems impossible,” she said.