T&V candidate survey

The Democratic primary for the City Council and mayoral races is on September 12. There is only one Republican candidate in the District 2 Council race and District 4 race, so there is no Republican primary for either. However, Town & Village reached out to all candidates in the two races, including the Republicans when asking these questions, which helped in this newspaper’s endorsement process. Read on for the answers from all candidates who responded by T&V’s 36-hour deadline on issues of transit woes, small businesses and the recent statue controversy. There was a 50 word limit per question although Town & Village let a few extra words slip in here and there in the interest of not gutting anyone’s answers. Those who didn’t respond were Erin Hussein, Jasmin Sanchez and Jimmy McMillan of District 2 and Maria Castro and Alec Hartman of District 4. Profiles of each candidate can be found on this website.


Ronnie Cho, Democrat, District 2

Who is responsible for subway hell? Cuomo or de Blasio, and how can the City Council help, especially in light of the looming L train shutdown?
The subway’s summer of hell is the result of an aging infrastructure system that isn’t seeing improvements because of the lack of political courage and vision in Albany and City Hall. The City Council should demand that the city’s MTA capital fund be used to make necessary repairs and to take proactive measures. In light of the L train shutdown, close lanes on 14th Street to regular car traffic so that buses can run non-stop and create a bus lane across the Williamsburg Bridge. We should also explore increasing ferry service across the East River from Williamsburg to the East Village and possibly a gondola/tramway adjacent to the Williamsburg Bridge.

What is your plan to save the city’s small businesses from chains and retail blight?
There’s one real solution on the table: establishing a right to lease renewal through the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. City Council has the votes. Now it needs the political will to take action and push this bill through.
Second, I support a repeal of the commercial rent tax. Additionally, I would enact commercial rent stabilization for small locally owned businesses, especially for women and minority-owned businesses.
Lastly, I would support a special commercial zoning district to limit store sizes with the exception of grocery stores and downzone storefronts and ground floor space in new buildings.

What is your position on the monument/statue controversy? Should Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square be renamed? Should Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle?
I support the removal of Confederate flags and monuments of Confederate leaders. We need to review all statues and monuments in New York City that honor figures that do not reflect the open-mindedness and diversity of our great city.


Carlina Rivera, Democrat, District 2

Who is responsible for subway hell? Cuomo or de Blasio, and how can the City Council help, especially in light of the looming L train shutdown?
The current transportation emergency is a result of too much talking and not enough action on all sides. The reality is that the MTA has deferred maintenance and under-delivered for decades. As we are poised to lose one of the few lines available to thousands of East Village residents, New Yorkers continue to invest in a public system that deserves a recommitment of funds from the state as well leadership willing to come together to discuss funding shortfalls and ultimately expanding service for underserved neighborhoods.

What is your plan to save the city’s small businesses from chains and retail blight?
I fully support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. This is an important, overdue piece of legislation and we have to revisit the language with a 21st century economy lens. I will also advocate for more outreach opportunities, info sessions and webinars to provide information about growing new businesses responsibly, as well as finding assistance to become a minority and/or woman-owned business vendor. I also plan to work on how to address taxes and other expenses passed onto our mom-and-pop operators.

What is your position on the monument/statue controversy? Should Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square be renamed? Should Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle?
Monuments can serve as a public reminder that we must learn from the past to improve on it and never repeat its mistakes. Statues memorialize people and sometimes those people are guilty of moral crimes we in the present find reprehensible. Should a mass of New Yorkers find a statue objectionable, we should at the very least start a dialogue on what is most appropriate.


Mary Silver, Democrat, District 2

Who is responsible for subway hell? Cuomo or de Blasio, and how can the City Council help, especially in light of the looming L train shutdown?
I am not interested in a blame game, but in who can get the job done. Council members must make sure the city and the state work together to end a subway stalemate that makes New Yorkers late for school, work and their various obligations. With the L train shutdown looming, the need for a dependable and functioning subway system is a priority.

What is your plan to save the city’s small businesses from chains and retail blight?
We can start by passing the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which has been kicked around since 1988. Council members must stop delaying by questioning the act’s legality: that issue was settled by a 2010 law commission. Provide commercial rent protections and the right to fair commercial lease renewal through arbitration. We have had far too much talk on this issue, and not enough action.

What is your position on the monument/statue controversy? Should Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square be renamed? Should Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle?
This statues controversy as it extends to Stuyvesant and Columbus differs from the issue of those confederate statues connected to figures who have taken up arms against our government in the name of slavery and oppression.


Jorge Vasquez, Democrat, District 2

Who is responsible for subway hell? Cuomo or de Blasio, and how can the City Council help, especially in light of the looming L train shutdown?
It is Cuomo’s, de Blasio’s, and every other elected official’s duty to do their part. Just think about how slowly the 2nd Avenue subway disaster has taken to get to where it is today, and it still remains behind schedule. It’s time to stop using it being in Albany’s control as an excuse, and take to lobbying and grassroots momentum to show just how badly we need these changes to happen.
From a city and council perspective, we need to be advocating for policies such as the Fair Fares Act.

What is your plan to save the city’s small businesses from chains and retail blight?
First and foremost, let’s get the Small Business Job Survival Act on the floor and put it to a vote. It is ridiculous that it has been stuck in committee since 1988.
Additionally, we need to change the tax incentive structure for developers. There should be no direct benefit to the owners of these buildings for leaving their units empty. I will continue to work with those who are leasing these storefronts by educating them on their rights currently, and when elected will continue to put out legislation that makes it more difficult for landlords to abuse our historical integrity.

What is your position on the monument/statue controversy? Should Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square be renamed? Should Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle?
These are all questions that should be answered through proper polling of our constituents. The meaning behind these places could have less to do with their names than their existence, and changing these names could alter the significance these places hold to people of the district. However, if the district wants to see these changes, I will support them 100 percent.


Vanessa Aronson, Democrat, District 4

Who is responsible for subway hell? Cuomo or de Blasio, and how can the City Council help, especially in light of the looming L train shutdown?
Cuomo, De Blasio, and the MTA Board, as well as past elected officials, are all to blame for neglecting to properly maintain aging subway infrastructure.
The City Council can hold the MTA accountable and earmark the funding it provides to ensure that billions of dollars are no longer spent without oversight. The Council can also start making a comprehensive plan for 14th Street for when the L train shuts down. I envision a PeopleWay with a wide pedestrian promenade, ample space for bicycles and a free shuttle bus.

What is your plan to save the city’s small businesses from chains and retail blight?
I will fight to remove any such tax breaks for landlords with vacancies lasting over one year. I would also explore possible tax deductions to those who take a risk on renting shorter-term leases to first-time small businesses and pop-ups.
Second, I advocate for following in the footsteps of San Francisco with the creation of Business Legacy Registry, and formula retail zoning restrictions to limit the number of chain stores.
Third, I agree with the full elimination of the Commercial Rent Tax. Finally, I fully support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA).

What is your position on the monument/statue controversy? Should Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square be renamed? Should Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle?
Regarding Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square, I believe that the residents there must decide for themselves what about Peter Stuyvesant is worth celebrating, and if that can be considered separate from his religious intolerance and other failings (slavery). Columbus is possibly the hardest call for me.  My father was an Italian-American. I would listen to District 4 and the city in determining what we should do with the statue.


Rebecca Harary, Republican, Dist. 4

Who is responsible for subway hell? Cuomo or de Blasio, and how can the City Council help, especially in light of the looming L train shutdown?
If Mayor de Blasio is reading this, Mr. Mayor, in light of all the wasteful spending you pushed for, shouldn’t you take this opportunity to lead, and do what the voters are expecting you to do by carving out the money needed to repair our subways?
With regard to the L train shutdown, close off East 14th Street to car traffic during rush hours, and allow buses and bicycles to use it exclusively instead. Creating an M14 SBS will also help to relieve the burden.

What is your plan to save the city’s small businesses from chains and retail blight?
When I get to City Hall, I will introduce legislation to repeal the Commercial Rent Tax incrementally over a three-year period. This will allow our elected officials to plan the city budget spending accordingly.
Additionally, I will work with my fellow City Councilwomen and men to bring the Small Business Jobs Survival Act back to life by flushing out some of its questionable measures, and creating a fully legal document that can be enacted in 2018.

What is your position on the monument/statue controversy? Should Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square be renamed? Should Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle?
Removing the Christopher Columbus statue is a slap in the face to all of our wonderful Italian Americans living here in NYC. Our mayor is acting more like a ruler than a mayor when he announces he will be appointing his own “task force.” Instead, let the people decide. We should have public hearings.


Jeffrey Mailman, Democrat, District 4

Who is responsible for subway hell? Cuomo or de Blasio, and how can the City Council help, especially in light of the looming L train shutdown?
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is governed by a board comprised of 17 members. The governor of NY, NYC mayor, and county executives from surrounding NYC counties nominate the members that go before the NYS Senate for confirmation. The NYC mayor gets four nominations but ultimately, the buck stops with the governor.  It is incumbent upon the City Council to make sure the mayor nominates the most qualified, experienced and knowledgeable people to this board.

What is your plan to save the city’s small businesses from chains and retail blight?
My plan is to incentivize tenants and landlords through real estate tax adjustments so that it cannot be financially beneficial to leave storefronts vacant.  I would also explore a SCRIE-style program for small business commercial tenants.

What is your position on the monument/statue controversy? Should Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square be renamed? Should Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle?
Communities should not be renamed and statues should not come down. You cannot rewrite history — only learn from it! I believe controversial monuments should spark peaceful research and education, not violence and destruction. I support adding more monuments of agreed upon heroes.


Rachel Honig, Democrat, District 4

Who is responsible for subway hell? Cuomo or de Blasio, and how can the City Council help, especially in light of the looming L train shutdown?
The ping pong game that the mayor and the governor are playing is neither effective nor appropriate. In the interest of getting fixes made, the city should absolutely absorb some of the cost. In exchange, control over city-specific MTA issues should be granted to allow for greater prioritization and community input. Saying it is the governor’s problem is just going to leave more people stranded, frustrated, and frankly, unsafe.

What is your plan to save the city’s small businesses from chains and retail blight?
I would continue to push for the raise of the floor of the commercial rent tax being spearheaded by Dan Garodnick. In addition, a version of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act must go to the floor to ensure lease protections. We need to create marketing programs for our small businesses and help them learn how to compete in a chain and e-tail economy. Lastly, we need to create a central office for our mom and pops to ease their burden.

What is your position on the monument/statue controversy? Should Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square be renamed? Should Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle?
I support bringing down Confederate monuments as there is no reason to glorify slave-owners. Similarly, I condemn Stuyvesant’s religious intolerance and Columbus’s barbarism.
I also understand that history is important and that people have become attached to the name of Stuyvesant Town. We have built a beautiful, multi-religious, multi-ethnic community on the land that Stuyvesant once owned. Columbus, on the other hand, has no real connection to NYC. In either case, I would welcome comments from my constituents.


Keith Powers, Democrat, District 4

Who is responsible for subway hell? Cuomo or de Blasio, and how can the City Council help, especially in light of the looming L train shutdown?
The supervision of the MTA falls primarily under the governor. However, the city is the biggest user of the MTA and must be involved in decisions about long-term revenue sources to build the Second Avenue Subway, add Select Bus Service and eco-friendly options during the L train shutdown, and to upgrade signal systems to make trains move faster.

What is your plan to save the city’s small businesses from chains and retail blight?
My father was a small business owner in Stuyvesant Town, so this is a personal issue for me. The city should reform the commercial rent tax, implement a “vacancy tax” to prevent warehousing, evaluate “big box” zoning limitations, and pass legislation to protect small businesses that are at risk of massive rent increases.

What is your position on the monument/statue controversy? Should Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square be renamed? Should Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle?
There are a number of neighborhoods – like Stuyvesant Town – that are no longer testimonials or directly connected to the person in question. They should keep their name.
Statues and monuments can be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.


Bessie Schachter, Democrat, Dist. 4

Who is responsible for subway hell? Cuomo or de Blasio, and how can the City Council help, especially in light of the looming L train shutdown?
It matters less who is responsible and more what we’re going to do about it. We have to invest in improving infrastructure and in keeping train fares affordable. The City Council can help by demanding more transparent planning and execution of repairs, for example, to repair the L train.
Moving forward, our city needs to fundamentally rethink the way that we approach public transport. The Tokyo Metro moves more people, more frequently, on time and at no cost to the taxpayer.

What is your plan to save the city’s small businesses from chains and retail blight?
As a member of the City Council, I will pass a Commercial Rent Tax reform that will protect our local businesses by removing incentives for landlords to warehouse vacant retail spaces.
Additionally, by reclassifying stores that serve local residents into a lower tax bracket, we can help keep the doors open and the lights on.

What is your position on the monument/statue controversy? Should Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square be renamed? Should Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle?
If the residents of Stuyvesant Town or Stuyvesant Square want to change their name, that’s one thing. Otherwise, this is a non-starter to me – that is simply what these communities are called.
To decide on a statue, you need a full accounting of history. You need to determine how deep an individual is connected to the history of New York, and if their life and their work deserves preservation in statue form.


Marti Speranza, Democrat, District 4

Who is responsible for subway hell? Cuomo or de Blasio, and how can the City Council help, especially in light of the looming L train shutdown?
The subway crisis stems from decades of underinvestment at both the city and state levels. The Move NY plan or congestion pricing would provide funding for our transit infrastructure.
For displaced L train riders, we must expand aboveground transit options, including more Select Bus Service and dedicated bus lanes.

What is your plan to save the city’s small businesses from chains and retail blight?
Passing Commercial Tax Reform to stop senseless squeezing small businesses.
Form a Legacy Business Preservation Fund, providing qualifying small businesses (including nonprofits) with annual financial assistance.
Build on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, starting with businesses with under 50 employees and under $500,000 in annual revenue.

What is your position on the monument/statue controversy? Should Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square be renamed? Should Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle?
We need thoughtful public discussion around these questions. Rather than destroy or erase our complicated history, we should work to recontextualize and reinterpret it to tell a complete story and ensure future generations understand the historical context of the figures that helped create and define our city.


Barry Shapiro, Democrat, District 4

Who is responsible for subway hell? Cuomo or de Blasio, and how can the City Council help, especially in light of the looming L train shutdown?
Subway problems have existed and continued to brew for so long, I’d more be inclined to lay responsibility at the feet of all NY politicians of the last 10-15 years. I hold the council members more accountable than anyone else because they are supposed to be the representatives of their districts.
So what council members can do is send up a howl. And demand the MTA, governor and mayor address these transit problems now and stop kicking the can down the road.

What is your plan to save the city’s small businesses from chains and retail blight?
I think the Small Business Jobs Survival Act is a good place to start. Ten-year leases will provide stability.
I support raising the tax cutoff for businesses paying less than $500K in rent, and I’m not adverse to looking at the creation of a comprehensive Commercial Tenants’ Bill of Rights which would include current harassment protections. Also not adverse to considering whether or not some form of commercial rent stabilization could be justified.

What is your position on the monument/statue controversy? Should Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square be renamed? Should Columbus be removed from Columbus Circle?
Christopher Columbus, Peter Stuyvesant, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson were all imperfect. But none of these has ever been thought of as enduring symbol of racism or resistance to national unity. Personally I don’t support removing statues of Stuyvesant, Columbus and the like. However, I do feel that any level of governmental celebration of the Confederacy is inappropriate.

 

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One thought on “T&V candidate survey

  1. I’m rather disappointed that these three generic questions, all of which, could be asked of any NYC Council candidate, were those asked of the candidates. There are several pressing issues that are important, specific, and unique to our community.

    Among them:

    1. What options do you prefer with respect to the coming shutdown of the L crosstown train.

    2. The 30th Street Men’s shelter has had a spate of violent crimes that have affected residents and businesses in Districts 2 and 4. Do you favor prohibiting paroled violent felony offenders from residence at the shelter?

    3. The districts have two of the least amounts of active green space of any in the city. The DSNY wants to use the Brookdale Campus for a garage and two other buildings, foreclosing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give our community its fair share of active park space. Where do you stand on the garage and, if you favor it, what is your plan for active park space?

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