NYC elections 2020

Assembly Candidates Lentol and Gallagher Prepare for Absentee Ballot Count

(Image courtesy of Emily Gallagher for State Assembly)

After the pandemic struck, Kevin Forsyth, a resident of East Williamsburg, went up to his parents’ place in Connecticut to ride out the worst of COVID-19’s spread.

Anticipating that he wasn’t going to be in Brooklyn for the Democratic primary, he then filled out an application for an absentee ballot in May. But come June 23, it still hadn’t arrived. On primary day, he decided to make the two-and-half-hour drive back into Williamsburg to vote in person.

“It was pretty absurd,” he said. “But I know those primaries matter, and these races are tight. I wanted to show up for it.”

Forsyth’s story is one of ten Emily Gallagher, a candidate for the 50th District in the state Assembly, has collected to document absentee ballot irregularities during a primary amidst a pandemic. Despite voters reporting issues with absentee ballots, Gallagher remains optimistic that these votes will clinch her first position in elected office.

Incumbent Assemblyman Joseph Lentol hopes, however, that his 15% lead over Gallagher after in-person voting won’t budge. Tomorrow, the New York City Board of Elections (BOE) will put each candidate’s optimism to the test as it begins to tally mailed-in votes across Brooklyn. Continue reading

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Senator Julia Salazar to Continue to Push for Progressive Change If Reelected

Senator Julia Salazar is running for reelection in the June 23rd primary elections. (Courtesy of Senator Julia Salazar’s office)

Less than two years ago, State Senator Julia Salazar was considered the insurgent candidate. A 27-year-old Democratic Socialist, she challenged Brooklyn’s Democratic establishment and won.

Heading into this year’s June 23rd primary, Salazar is the incumbent, mired in what’s been an acrimonious race between her and Bushwick local, Andy Marte. Both have slung allegations of campaign finance abuse at each other, and Salazar has criticized Marte for sponsoring COVID-19 antibody testing at a NYCHA development without approval from the city.

Greenpointers spoke with Senator Salazar to hear her thoughts on occupying the unfamiliar role of incumbent, the push to remedy housing insecurity in Salazar’s district and her position on police reform city and statewide.


To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself and explain why you’re running for State Senate?

I am the current State Senator for the 18th district. I was first elected in 2018 and I became the youngest woman in the history of New York State to be elected to the State Senate.

How does it feel to be an incumbent when the narrative of your campaign two years ago was one of insurgency? 

Because we changed the election date in order to synchronize the state primary with the presidential primary, it’s actually been less than two years since the last election. It’s been an abbreviated period. That makes it particularly strange to already be running again for State Senate. 

I am a Democratic Socialist. I am on the left of the Democratic conference in the State Senate. I am still committed to pushing for the most progressive policies and pushing for transformative change and challenging the status quo. In all those ways, I still feel like an insurgent candidate, despite being an incumbent.

There have been daily protests throughout the city against the NYPD and police brutality. Do you believe in defunding the city police?

I believe that currently the NYPD’s budget and that of many police departments across the country are inflated. We need to be thinking critically about how much public funds are given to law enforcement and then how those funds are being used.

We’ve seen in recent weeks the militarization of police departments, including the NYPD, the brutal tactics used to suppress protests, including nonviolent protests. I would fully support decreasing the NYPD budget and then using those funds in the city budget for education, for example, to hire more counselors, to reduce the number of police officers, especially in schools that predominantly have a black and brown student body.

As far as quantifying it, I’ve heard from several Council Members, a lot of them are saying a minimum of a $1 billion reduction in the budget. I fully support that. Some of them are discussing more significant cuts depending on the details. I think at minimum the city needs to reduce the NYPD budget by at least $1 billion and then transfer that accordingly to more community alternatives. 

At the state level, would you push for legislation to defund the state police and state law enforcement?

We haven’t been having rigorous conversations about this at the state level, mainly because of the way police departments are generally funded, but I would be very keen to examine what state resources are currently being allocated to law enforcement. I also want to ensure that any state or municipal resources that are currently given to law enforcement are not being used to collaborate with federal immigration enforcement.  Continue reading

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Freelancers Union Hosts NY-12 Candidate Forum Monday Night

NY-12 candidates will speak with the Freelancers Union for a live interview on Monday.

The Freelancers Union will host a candidate forum between NY-12 congressional candidates on Monday night as early voting is now in session for the June 23rd democratic primary elections.

The four candidates on the ballot include the incumbent, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, second year challenger Suraj Patel, and progressive upstarts Lauren Ashcraft and Peter Harrison.

You can catch the forum live on the Freelancers Union Facebook page starting at 7 p.m. Continue reading

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Lauren Ashcraft Runs Grassroots Congressional Campaign in Crowded Field to Oust Carolyn Maloney

NY-12 candidate Lauren Ashcraft (Courtesy of Lauren Ashcraft for Congress)

Lauren Ashcraft’s background is eclectic. She worked at JP Morgan Chase and is a Democratic Socialist. Ashcraft was also a standup comedian in New York and a policy analyst in Pennsylvania.

Now, she’s a dark horse candidate in what many see as a two-person race between the insurgent Suraj Patel and the incumbent, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, to be the representative of New York’s 12th Congressional District.

Running a self-described grassroots campaign that has amassed more small dollar donations than any other candidate for NY-12 as of April, Ashcraft spoke with Greenpointers about her plans to reform campaign finance, advocate for a single-payer healthcare system and her participation in the city’s recent protests.

This interview was edited and condensed for clarity. 


To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself and explain why you’re running for Congress?

I’m running for Congress because in a democracy everyone deserves to have an equal voice. We’re living in the third most unequal district in the entire country. That means people are having to choose between having a home and having food on the table or having health insurance and paying their student debt. These aren’t choices we should have to make. 

I bring with me my struggles of my family in everything that I fight for. My grandmother was an immigrant from Japan who faced racism throughout her entire life here. And her husband, my grandfather, was killed by corporate greed in a coal mining accident. My other grandfather fell while he was working and became a quadriplegic. Of course he didn’t have the money to hire round-the-clock caretakers, so it was his family who helped. I grew up understanding that the government isn’t there for you. 

Hearing messages from people calling for people-powered representation, that’s why I’m running. We’re seeing the lack of this representation right now so vividly. Now we’re paying the price every single day. 

You’re billing yourself as a progressive and Democratic Socialist. Doesn’t the fact that you recently worked for JP Morgan Chase run counter to that narrative?

Absolutely not. I became a Democratic Socialist when I was working in the financial sector. I’ve seen corporate greed with my own eyes and how the federal government throws money at corporations. It doesn’t trickle down to the average worker but stays at the top and becomes record-setting bonuses and stock buybacks. 

I am calling to break up the big banks and for proper regulation. Because even after the Great Recession in 2008, we still don’t have the protective barriers that will prevent exactly that. My opponent helped repeal the Glass-Steagall Act in the late 1990s, and that has allowed for big banks to play with consumer funds in a way that leaves all open to the corruption that caused that recession. Continue reading

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Peter Harrison Wants to Unseat Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Cancel Rent

U.S. congressional candidate Peter Harrison (Courtesy of Michael Nicholas)

Peter Harrison isn’t paying rent for his apartment. A resident of Stuyvesant Town for the past 11 years, he’s decided to join millions across the country in refusing to fork over money to landlords during a global pandemic.

Harrison is taking his career-long criticisms of the real estate industry to the doors of congress, joining a crowded field of progressives attempting to unseat Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who represents New York’s 12th Congressional District, which includes Greenpoint and parts of Williamsburg.

For Harrison, this race is especially symbolic. The very same real estate and investment firms Harrison has critiqued throughout his years of advocacy have filled Maloney’s coffers with donations.

Greenpointers chatted with Harrison to hear his beliefs on housing, racial, socioeconomic and climate justice issues, as well as to learn about how Harrison plans to turn his critiques of the real estate industry into legislation.

This interview was edited and condensed for clarity. 


To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself and explain why you’re running for Congress?

I’ve been living in the district for 14 years. I am a long-time housing activist with my tenant association and Housing Justice for All. I advised on presidential housing plans for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Julian Castro. I’m also a Democratic Socialist and faculty member at Baruch College, teaching in the MBA program on information technology. 

I am running for Congress because I think cities are where the future of our country and planet will be won or lost. They are the best defense against economic inequality, racial injustice and climate disaster, but we don’t have any leadership in the Democratic party at the national level centering cities. I know what kind of structural change we need to solve it, which is taking on the real estate industry, Representative Maloney’s third biggest donor. The idea of not having somebody in Congress who’s an urbanist, who’s fighting for urban-centric issues is just unacceptable for New York 12. 

Continue reading

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Campaigning in a Pandemic: Emily Gallagher Sets Sights on Albany During Quarantine

Emily Gallagher is running for NYS Assembly in North Brooklyn (Courtesy of Emily Gallagher for State Assembly).

Emily Gallagher is no stranger to assuming the role of David against a political Goliath. In 2016, she lost a race to unseat an entrenched district leader in North Brooklyn who had served the district longer than Gallagher had been alive.

Now, Gallagher is running to represent North Brooklyn in the New York State Assembly against someone who—again—has been in office longer than she has been alive: Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, beloved by many during his half a century in elected office.

Greenpointers spoke with Gallagher ahead of the June 23rd primary elections to discuss how her campaign has changed in the midst of a pandemic and to get her take on the citywide protests that have erupted after the killing of George Floyd.

Note: This interview was conducted prior to the incidents between the NYPD and protestors in Williamsburg on Thursday night. Gallagher has since called on all elected officials to denounce violent policing.

The interview has also been edited and condensed for clarity. 


 

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To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself and explain why you’re running for election to the Assembly?

I am a 14-year resident of Greenpoint. In my second year in the neighborhood, I became involved with activism around the environment. Additionally, I became very involved in activism around safe streets and transit advocacy, pushing for better subways, pushing for bike lanes, pushing for justice for pedestrians and cyclists. 

Throughout all of this activism I started learning how important it was to have allies that both were willing to champion the causes of the neighborhood but were also able to push for forward-thinking policy in advance. I’m a survivor of sexual assault. I love the idea of pushing for public hearings and for trauma-centered and victim-centered discussions. I saw a lot of hesitancy to participate from our Assemblymember, and then I learned he’s been in office nearly 50 years. I decided it’d be worth it to challenge him and to the very least have a conversation about these issues and at the ideal get someone in there who—me—understood the story of the community. 

The death of George Floyd has reverberated across the nation, with protests erupting across New York City. Do you think police brutality is an issue in North Brooklyn, and if so, what policies would you support to combat it?

I think that police brutality is an issue in North Brooklyn. I have seen in my own community people receiving poor treatment by the police, especially around the issues of cycling. I think this is an issue for our whole country, and North Brooklyn could be a leader in changing the tide. A big part of my platform is actually shifting from being police-centered to thinking about how policing is the band-aid solution for every other problem that we have. 

I think we should start shifting to solving the roots of the problems. We see so much interaction between the youth and the police. We’re also seeing jobs programs being cut. We’re seeing after school programs being cut. A lot of times, we are using the police as a way to hide the poor services that we are giving to vulnerable community members, and I think that we can actually shift the power in a way that benefits everyone.

I’ve also been calling for the repeal of 50-a for months. There’s a lot that we do to protect bad-acting cops, when what we should be doing is protecting vulnerable people and making sure that they have the resources that they need and are protected.

 

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Monday is the next fundraising filing deadline. And it’s a big one. Coming just five weeks before our election, it’ll determine our path to victory.⁣ Your incredible support so far has put Emily in striking distance of giving North Brooklyn new representation in the Assembly for the first time since 1972.⁣ ⁣ But we need your help right now. Contribute whatever you’re able at emilyforassembly.com/donate ⁣ ⁣ The recovery from the economic wreckage of COVID-19 will require vision, energy and bringing a lot more people into the political process. It’s just not something a 50-year machine incumbent can do.⁣ ⁣ But Emily can, if we have her back.⁣ ⁣ emilyforassembly.com/donate⁣

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No one could have anticipated COVID-19 when the race for the 50th Assembly District began. How has COVID-19 changed your campaign and what pandemic-related issues would you focus on if elected to the Assembly? Continue reading

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Who’s on the Ballot in North Brooklyn for the June 23rd Primary?

2020 is the year of the pandemic, but before we were sequestered inside our homes it was another fairly typical election year. New York will still hold Democratic primaries on June 23rd, and arguably the most consequential contests of the year are in North Brooklyn where a number upstart candidates seek to unseat longtime incumbents.

Reminder: The Board of Elections began mailing absentee ballot applications this week, but If you’re already a registered NYC voter then you can complete the online absentee ballot application right now. The deadline to apply is June 16th.

With only a month away from a primary with national, state and local implications, who’s on the ballot in North Brooklyn? Continue reading

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