MMV, Seeking Public Advocate Seat, Meets Ethnic Press; Espinal Visits Nightclub

Melissa Mark-Viverito, addressing the community and ethnic media Dec. 5, 2018 at the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) El Barrio Firehouse. (Photo by Gregg McQueen)

Saying that fixing the public transportation system and improving public housing would be her top priorities as public advocate, former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito spoke to a group of community and ethnic media at the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) El Barrio Firehouse on Dec. 5. The “intimate chat,” writes Gregg McQueen of Manhattan Times, was held just a few days after she entered an increasingly crowded race to succeed Letitia James, who becomes New York State attorney general in January.

Mark-Viverito made it clear that she has the interests of all communities in the city at heart, notes McQueen.

The candidate said her discussion with the ethnic media is “a reflection of what my campaign is all about for Public Advocate,” noting that when she became Council Speaker, she worked to ensure that the legislative body was held accountable to diverse constituents across the city.

She said she will run a Public Advocate campaign that focuses on all five boroughs, and communicates with different ethnic groups, noting her campaign logo has been designed in Arabic, Chinese and Spanish. The intent is for her campaign website to be multilingual, she added.

With talk swirling about how the city will pay to fix the NYC subway system, the candidate said that it was “outrageous” that congestion pricing was still being debated as one source of revenue. Some believe the anticipated easing of marijuana laws in the state could also provide a source of revenues, and Mark-Viverito on Thursday unveiled “Weed for Rails” as part of her campaign platform.


Regarding the woes of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), Mark-Viverito said the city has not focused enough on improving living conditions for tenants.

“The deplorable conditions that the people in public housing are living in are unacceptable,” she said, “The amount of energy, that between the Governor and the Mayor they put into striking this deal for Amazon, where is that energy and commitment to making public housing a priority? Why aren’t we putting the best minds and the ideas at the table and figuring out solutions?”

She said the notion of federal oversight of NYCHA, and the agency possibly going into receivership is a frightening prospect under the Trump administration.

“That should scare us all, particularly in this climate that is particularly hostile to black and brown people, to immigrant communities, to poor people,” she stated.

Also this week, City Council member Rafael Espinal kicked off his bid for the public advocate seat at the House of Yes nightclub in Bushwick, reports Kelly Mena in Kings County Politics.

City Council Member Rafael Espinal being interviewed at the House of Yes bar and performance space. (Photo by Kyle O’Leary via Kings County Politics)

Surrounded by supporters, Espinal said he hoped to energize young voters in the forthcoming special election, to be held in February. Espinal last year actively pushed for the repeal of “the notoriously racist and bureaucratic ‘No Dancing’ Cabaret Law,” notes Mena.  “The Brooklynite also created the first-ever Office of Nightlife that includes a Mayor of Nightlife.”

“I need you to vote, I need your friends to vote. In politics there is culture and that culture believes that we should only prioritize the issues of those communities that vote in large numbers. And because of that belief, political insiders don’t believe that we can win, political insiders believe that we can’t win because in their assessment  the people in my district don’t vote,” said Espinal.

Read more on Espinal at Kings County Politics.

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