Linda Minucci doesn’t like the spotlight. She’s an elected official, but holds some of the most obscure positions in the Democratic Party. Minucci is a county committee member, which according to her doesn’t serve much of a purpose.
As a former delegate to the Democratic state judicial convention, she says the process essentially rubber stamps judges who run unopposed during the state judicial convention.
Currently, Minucci serves as a state committee member, also known in some neighborhoods as District Leaders, making her responsible for staffing polling locations, vetting judicial candidates, registering voters and increasing voter turnout.
Causal political observers may not know what these unpaid positions are, but Minucci says she has enjoyed volunteering for the Democratic Party in relative obscurity for the past 35 years.
Minucci would like to continue her hold over her small Democratic fiefdom. This year, she’s fighting off young upstart, Kristina Naplatarski, for female state committee member, a position also known as female District Leader. (She’s also on the ballot as a judicial delegate.)Continue reading →
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney stands by her record. She’s been in office for more than two decades and is staking her 2020 congressional reelection campaign on bills passed, rivals defeated and agencies regulated.
With little less than a week before the June 23rd Democratic primary, Greenpointers spoke with Maloney about campaign finance regulation, her involvement in recent protests against police brutality in the city and the issues she thinks most affect North Brooklyners.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.
To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself?
I’m the mother of two wonderful daughters, and I’m a widow. I’ve been representing this district since 1992. I first ran and defeated a Republican, Bill Green. I helped change the whole east side of Manhattan from Republican to Democrat.
Why are you running for reelection?
I believe that public service is the best job that anyone can have. If it is done honestly and done well, it can improve people’s lives. It’s my record that I’m running on. Recently, I was just endorsed by The New York Times and The New York Daily News. And I was rated number one in congressional leadership by GovTrack.
Also, I have recently been elected by my peers to be chair of the Oversight Committee. With this position, I will have even a more powerful, stronger voice.
Your three opponents have emphasized that they don’t take any corporate PAC money. Why do you take money from corporations?
I am the only one of the people running that has actually done anything to take corporate money out of campaigns. I am a sponsor of HR1. That bill, among other things, calls for public funding of campaigns. I am devoted to making that happen.
When I was on the City Council, I authored and passed the best and toughest campaign finance law in the nation. Since then, the City Council has made that law even tougher.
I am the only candidate that Wall Street and big banks financed a candidate against in 2010, and she ran on the program that I was too tough on big banks and Wall Street. This was after I passed a landmark bill that President Obama signed into law called the Credit Card Holder’s Bill of Rights. I won that race and I hope that my record in Congress continues to merit that support.
A post shared by Carolyn Maloney (@carolynbmaloney) on May 22, 2020 at 4:36pm PDT
The 12th Congressional District cuts across Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. What do you think is the most pressing issue here in North Brooklyn? What do you think is most important in Greenpoint?Continue reading →
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.
Two years ago, Suraj Patel led an insurgent, but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to unseat incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney as District 12’s congressional representative.
Undeterred, he’s back on the (virtual) campaign trail again, but in a vastly changed political landscape. The pandemic and recent protests have influenced his platform, and the race is heated as Maloney has taken more proactive steps to protect her more than 25-year hold on a congressional seat.
Greenpointers spoke with Patel about his involvement in protests against police brutality that have roiled the city as well as his legislative priority to demilitarize the police if elected to Congress.
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 a first-generation American. I’m an attorney and business ethics professor at NYU, and I worked for Barack Obama. I’m running for Congress because this is a moment for change.
We’ve got an incumbent Democrat who represents some of the worst parts of our times. Why do we have a Democrat in a district this progressive that essentially enabled so many of the things that Republicans for decades have fought for? We need generational change right now. If you look around, people are marching, and their aspirations need to be turned into laws. I think the people who turn those aspirations into laws need to be a different set of people than the ones who created the systemic oppression we see today.
A post shared by Suraj Patel (@surajpatelnyc) on Jun 4, 2020 at 9:05am PDT
You’re running to be our representative in the federal government. What would be the first piece of legislation you’d push for if elected to Congress?
We should be legislating to demilitarize police forces in our country. We see millions of people activated by it now across the country. We can’t just let these be like other times. It can’t be sets of protests that then dissipate and no action happens. The action we need is no longer hashtags or posts. The action we need is legislation to change the laws that allow police to brutally murder mostly black and brown men and women in this country with impunity. Continue reading →
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.
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.
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 →
In 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young, progressive upstart, defeated Joe Crowley, a career politician and longtime U.S. Congressman, to win a seat in the House of Representatives representing Queens. Echoes of that narrative, an upstart candidate running an uphill campaign against a party mainstay, have reached North Brooklyn.
Lentol is an institution in North Brooklyn with more than 47 years in elected office, fighting for more green space in the 50th Assembly District and pushing for criminal justice reform at the state level. Greenpointers spoke with Assemblyman Lentol to discuss how his platform has changed in the midst of a pandemic and protests against police brutality ahead of the June 23rd primary elections.
The interview has also been edited and condensed for clarity.
To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself and explain why you’re running for reelection to the Assembly?
I’ve been in office for a while, and I have a long record of accomplishment. Especially now that I’ve gained a lot of seniority, I’ve been able to do things that I wasn’t able to do as a junior member in the legislature. That not only helps enact good legislation, but it also helps our district. I intend to continue in that vein.
A post shared by Joe Lentol (@joelentol) on Jun 3, 2020 at 12:21pm PDT
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 if reelected?
I don’t know if it’s an issue in North Brooklyn, but it is an issue in New York state, and I represent the entire state. I think the time has come to finally repeal 50-a, a statute that was passed that protects the police officers’ personnel record from being used against them in court. It’s an anachronism now and I think the events that happened in Minneapolis show us that we need to repeal that statute.
Then there are also other reforms that I’m championing, like the STAT Act, for example, that I believe we should fight to pass, which gives statistics for who gets arrested and what race they are. Right now, there is no law throughout the state or even in New York City that requires racial information to determine whether or not people who are arrested have been arrested in a way that’s been discriminatory.
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 tackle if reelected to the Assembly?
People are adopting dogs now and cats because of the pandemic. Especially in the time when they’re sick and have to stay home, they’re wanting to have an animal. We still see a persistence in the ACC [Animal Care Center] in euthanizing animals that don’t need to be euthanized. I’ve introduced a bill to stop them because I’ve seen incidents in some other publications that animals have been euthanized that have been perfectly healthy and ought to be adopted.
The most important bill that I’ve introduced that has now come to fruition is the Compassionate Helper Bill. The most terrible thing about this pandemic is that people die alone. I thought that nobody at all was addressing that problem. Fortunately, with a little bit of pressure that we put on the governor, we introduced a bill to require the hospitals to do this. And the governor and hospital association reached an agreement to have a pilot program. Beginning this week, there will be compassionate helpers who will be outfitted with PPE to sit with and care for people who are afflicted by the virus. Continue reading →
Never heard of a District Leader? Until 2017, neither had 25-year-old Greenpointer Kristina Naplatarski, who’s running for the position in the upcoming election. The lover of Five Leaves, Variety Coffee, Archestratus and Jimmy’s Dinner is a proud lifetime local, who still lives close to her mother and childhood friends near McGolrick Park, where you can find her exploring pockets of the green space on weekends. You’ll also find the Brooklyn Young Democrats-endorsed candidate near the bottom of your ballot on June 23rd, as Naplatarski runs for public office for the first time, inspired to oust a 35-year incumbent, Linda Minucci, and use her voice to amplify the concerns of her community.
A quick side note: a “district leader” and a “state committee member” can refer to the same position in certain districts. In the 50th Distrct the term is interchangeable, and will be listed as “State committee member” on the June 23rd ballot.
Empowered by the 2018 elections of U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and State Senator Julia Salazar, Naplatarski is continuing the momentum of voting in young, female voices by running for District Leader. Greenpointers chatted with Naplatarski to get to know why this position matters to her, and why the lifelong Greenpointer is adding her name to the ballot.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Why are you running for office?
The decision to run for office was a very personal decision for me. I was born and raised in Greenpoint and have lived here my entire life. I graduated from the local public schools and my mom [a public school teacher] has always been very involved in community activism. For example, in the early 2000s, there was a plan to build a power plant in Greenpoint, and the community rallied against it and stopped it. North Brooklyn has a history of [activism]. My upbringing led me into public service.
And why run for District Leader?
Currently, I work for City Council, so I’m already professionally involved in the government, but in my work life or personal life, I had never seen our District Leader. Via The North Brooklyn Political Democrats, I first heard what a District Leader was. I learned that the one we have has been in office for 32 years and had never shown up for the community. Planted a seed in my head and continued on. Following the 2016 election, with AOC and Julia Salazar, I saw women being put into power against really entrenched incumbents. If there is a chance of to bring some vitality and new leadership to he role of district leader, it’s going to follow the wave and be in 2020.
So what does a District Leader do?
District Leader is a very unique, kind of wonky position that many people don’t really know about. One of the things that make it especially special is that it’s a part-time, unpaid position. It’s a person that should really just care about the work and is doing it for the sake of the work. Historically, this position has been used by a person who is a ‘yes’ vote when it comes down to decision making at the county level. It could be someone who really cares, or a person who is very complacent and is just there as a pawn for Kings County Democratic Committee’s leadership. That’s the case we have now. [I want to] tap into the work that’s happening on the ground. A lot of grassroots organizing goes on in North Brooklyn, we have very invested community groups and organizations. It’s a position that can help facilitate that work and be a bridge between the community and elected officials.
What would you want to accomplish as District Leader?
District Leader’s priorities should be what the community see as most important. My three issues and areas of concern right now would be environmental remediation, that’s been a constant threat, housing affordability and more responsible development practices. I’d also want to look at what The King’s County Democratic Party should look like. I’m running as a reform candidate for sure to bring more transparency and accountability to the Brooklyn Democratic Party and make it more engaging.
How would being an elected official change your day-to-day?
I would keep my day job working in communications for Council Member Antonio Reynoso, which luckily keeps me in North Brooklyn, and in the [political] world. I think the most important thing is being present and showing up. North Brooklyn has a very robust schedule of community meeting and actions and things to support. I want to show up to these as best I can and give these things equal weight, to keep my finger on the pulse of what people care about. It’s very fluid, like all organizing work. You need to be able to adapt to what’s happening on the ground and create quick responses and maintain an active dialogue with community residents about things they want to see and how we can achieve that. For example, writing a letter or setting up meetings with certain elected officials.
Who are you voting for tomorrow? Don’t miss your chance to score a snazzy “I Voted” sticker to snap a civic engagement-promoting selfie tomorrow – and most importantly help decide who NYC’s next Public Advocate will be.
From NYC Votes: “The public advocate is New York City’s second-highest ranking elected official and can step in to act as mayor if the mayor is absent or unable to perform their duties. As the people’s legal representative in city government, the public advocate has the power to investigate complaints and make recommendations about city agencies and services, provide information that allows New Yorkers to protect themselves, and introduce or co-sponsor bills.”
Polling sites are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and if you need a refresher on the candidates, try starting with the last televised debate:
The winner will serve until 12/31/19 and a second election will be in September for the remainder of the four-year term ending 12/31/21 with a possible runoff election is scheduled for November.
The office of New York City’s public advocate was vacated last December after former Public Advocate Letitia James was sworn as NY’s Attorney General. All registered voters in New York City are eligible to vote in this special election. Check your voter status at voterlookup.elections.ny.gov and find your polling location.
The New York City Public Advocate race grows more crowded by the week as Melissa Mark-Viverito has joined the growing candidate list that includes Council Member Jumaane Williams. The race was triggered after current Public Advocate Letitia James’ 2018 midterm election victory to become New York’s next Attorney General. An election date to elect the next NYC Public Advocate has yet to be announced, but the date will be set for sometime in early 2019 after James is sworn in as NY Attorney General.
Nomiki Konst is one of the NYC Public Advocate candidates that local media like to paint as an outsider despite her history of taking on corruption as an investigative journalist and as a member of the Democratic National Committee’s Unity Reform Commission.
Konst sets herself apart from the other Public Advocate candidates by pushing a progressive agenda that includes not accepting real estate lobby donations and committing to staying educated on city business deals prior to endorsing them. With the recent victories of other NYC progressives who also denied real estate money like Congresswoman-elect Alexandira Ocasio-Cortez and incoming New York State Senator Julia Salazar, Konst is running for local office at a time when the awareness of corporate influence on political decisions is elevated. Greenpointers reached out to Konst to find out what her policy positions are on current hot button issues in NYC like Amazon HQ2. Full disclosure: Nomiki Konst and I worked together briefly at the political news outlet TYT Network over the past year.
You have a long history as a watchdog, not only working as an investigative journalist, but as a Bernie Sanders surrogate during the 2016 campaign, and as a representative in the Democratic National Committee’s Unity Reform Commision. How would you utilize your experience investigating national issues to bring more accountability to New York City?
NK: The Public Advocate’s office has the unique ability to investigate separately from the Comptroller, for instance, to investigate conflicts of interest, to figure out where local sources of corruption are coming. And not just advocate for the city and New Yorkers, but specifically to be a check on the City Council, on the agencies as well as the Mayor’s office. So my experience on the Unity Reform Commission was incredibly powerful in that just like the Public Advocate’s office we didn’t have litigation power or the ability to subpoena, or present legislation really, but that’s a separate issue. So what I had to do was I had to be very creative about how we figured out where the corruption was coming from. And of course, being an investigative reporter I was probably a little bit more familiar with those strategies. So I first went to the budget and started looking through the budget, and I started figuring out what sort of conflicts of interests there were.
It’s time to study up on your ballot options, find your poll site and vote tomorrow (11/6) in what is regarded as one of the most consequential midterm elections in history. Our traditionally blue state registered 108,801 Democrats and 5,077 Republicans between Nov. 1, 2017 and Nov. 1, 2018; the youth vote is also expected to increase, unlike recent midterm elections.
Here’s a rundown on the federal and state candidates, and the three local ballot initiatives.