Ray Sanchez (D) is a man who takes pride in his accomplishments. It is precisely this effectiveness that motivated him to enter the race to succeed Councilmember Mark Levine (D-Manhattan Valley, Manhattanville, Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights) as District 7’s representative.
As a boy in the Lower East Side’s Baruch Houses NYCHA complex, he was involved in the local Boys Club of New York. At eleven, Sanchez’s engagement there earned him a scholarship to Connecticut’s Rumsey Hall boarding school. He later got a bachelor’s degree at Wesleyan University and a law degree from Rutgers.
Since then, Sanchez has worked in multiple sectors, ranging from the office of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., (D) to banking to academia to nonprofits. In each of these fields, he’s enjoyed considerable success; he’s particularly proud of his current position at Aguila, a homeless services agency.
“I got there August 17. By September 30, they made me the CEO,” he beamed. “Who hands over an organization with millions of dollars in contracts with DHS to a guy who’s only been there for six weeks?”
Sanchez feels that his ability to deliver and his solidly pragmatic policy platform will help bring him to City Hall.
“After four years of Trump and seven years of de Blasio in Gracie Mansion, I think people are hungry for experienced, knowledgeable public servants,” he said. “I believe in being a substantive progressive, I believe in doing research.”
Sanchez’s platform is mostly moderate, particularly his opposition to defunding the police in favor of auditing them for wasteful spending and abuse of authority as an example of his political mindset. “As someone who lost his dad in the World Trade Center, I want to make sure there’s money for counterterrorism in that budget,” he said. “As a kid who grew up in a NYCHA project, the Police Athletic League was a program I really enjoyed as a kid. It should be funded and be there.”
He is similarly skeptical of canceling rent due to long-term economic consequences.
“If you take a dollar out of the economy, there’s a multiplier effect,” said Sanchez. “What does that mean for the landlords? What does it mean the debt service on that building, what does it mean for the maintenance on that building?…There’s a ripple effect. We’ve gotta figure out ways to keep people in their homes without disrupting the economy so we can have a full-speed recovery.”
Sanchez recognizes that his unwillingness to sugarcoat his relative moderation may alienate some potential voters, calling himself “a straight-shooter.”
“I’m a big guy. I get animated. I’m 220 pounds. I gotta take it down a notch and breathe and be a little softer,” he said. “I’ve been in these trenches, and at the end of the day…voters have their families and lives. They don’t want to deal with the nitty-gritty in policy. Some do, but most don’t. That’s where I need to just rein it in and simplify what I’m saying.