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Maya Wiley

Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire


Rebuilding New York City

Question 1

Please describe what steps you will take to rebuild the economy.

We don’t just need a recovery, we need to reimagine what New York City looks like. COVID has not hit every community the same, and our plan needs to reflect that. 

While some industries have partially recovered, people of color continue to suffer the worst, economically. As of September, Black and Latinx households had much higher rates of food and housing insecurity, and Asian households were experiencing considerable housing insecurity. Nearly a third of households with incomes below $50,000 were food and housing insecure. These examples make clear that while some in the city are doing okay, entire swaths of New York are struggling just to get by and are in danger of being forgotten. 

This is why, as the first plank of my Economic Recovery Plan, I announced New Deal New York, a $10B capital investment program to put residents back to work and invest in the future of our communities. My plan will create a 5-year centrally managed $10B capital spending program for public works projects. The program will fund much-needed development, infrastructure repairs, and enhancements. The fund would 

consist of committed unspent capital funds and new capital dollars financed by City debt. It will also prioritize new kinds of investments that support our recovery while addressing the structural issues that cause racial and gender inequities. New Deal New York will target investments based on a comprehensive analysis of capital needs across five boroughs, using metrics including racial disparities in income, unemployment, capital need and city investment over the past decade, to ensure capital dollars are utilized in the most underinvested communities first. On Day One I will appoint a New Deal Czar who will report directly to me in City Hall and be responsible for implementing the program. 

I have also put forward a plan for Universal Community Care — is an ambitious interagency plan that rebuilds economic growth in sectors dominated by women of color and ensures that these jobs are good jobs, addresses the crisis of affordable childcare and eldercare, and fights for fair wages and protections for workers in the care economy. Universal Community Care recognizes that care exists in many forms: from paid childcare and elder care to direct services provided by frontline nonprofit workers to care provided within the home by family, to neighbors helping neighbors. This model will redirect $300 million in diverted resources from incoming NYPD and DOCCS cadet classes to give 100,000 high need informal caregivers a $5,000 annual stipend to compensate them for their labor. Using the Universal Community Care Model, I will also build community centers providing free childcare, eldercare, and other services in each neighborhood. And it will create strong, meaningful worker protections for our city’s care workers.


Question 2

There has been a seismic shift in female representation in the workforce due to COVID-19. Particularly, women of color have lost jobs or have been left to care for their families. What is your plan to spur job growth and small business ownership for women?

We live in a City where there are still massive discrepancies between men and women in terms of pay, wealth and positions of power and influence. These gaps are even more pronounced when you account for race. African American women currently earn sixty six cents for every dollar earned by a man. The historical legacy of discrimination against women, especially women of color and transgender and gender non-conforming persons and the discrimination these groups still face today both contribute to this injustice. Gender equity is about confronting this reality and proactively pursuing solutions that correct for historic wrongs while dismantle the structural prejudice that still exists today. I have dedicated my life’s work, both inside and outside of government, to transforming systems that perpetuate discrimination, and dehumanization and have worked tirelessly to institute reforms and policies aimed at correcting their effects. 

That is why the economic recovery proposals my campaign has released focus on historically marginalized communities, especially women of color. My campaign recently released my Universal Community Care which rebuilds economic growth in sectors dominated by women. Currently, American women spend 243 minutes doing unpaid labor every day, or roughly 28.4 hours a week. My plan redirects $300 million in resources from incoming NYPD and DOCCS cadet classes and $200 million in underutilized federal funding to give 100,000 high need informal caregivers a $5,000 annual stipend to compensate them for their labor. 

As council to the mayor, I increased minority and women owned business enterprise (MWBE) contracts from $500 million in spending to $1.6 billion in one year and laid the foundation for what has become the Mayor’s Office on MWB. As Mayor, I will build on this work and expand city contracts with women owned businesses, especially women of color by leveraging the power of our tens of billions of dollars in annual government spending, as laid out in my comprehensive Save our Small Businesses plan. New York City’s budget is larger than that of most states, and our spending has a big enough impact to further important social and economic goals. 

If elected, I will also make sure my administration continues to close the gender pay gap in city government and that senior positions in my administration and city agencies are filled in a manner that increases gender equity for women transgender and gender non-conforming persons. I will do the same thing with gender representation on Mayoral boards and commissions. Economic recovery will be one of the most critical components of my agenda, but to meet this moment, we cannot just rebuild our economy, we need to transform it. We can and will place economic justice and equity at the center of our response and ensure an economy that works for all New Yorkers. This means addressing the racial and gender wealth gap, pay gap for women, and economic security for all.


Question 3

How would you have handled the Amazon deal differently? Please describe your approach to recruiting companies to NYC.

I wasn’t in government during the Amazon fight but I watched closely from the sidelines. It represented a paralysis of leadership. If I had been Mayor at the time, I would have led with the benefits and laid out what the community and the City would gain with the $13B+ of revenue that would have come to us. Additionally, I would have ensured that the voices of impacted residents, such as the Queensbridge Houses residents, were centered, and their needs, ideas, and opinions were uplifted. Additionally, I would have engaged the community and stakeholders earlier in the process to ensure that City and Amazon could both hear and respond to the valid concerns that others had raised throughout.


Question 4

Municipalities across the country have had systems and data held hostage for ransom, do you think NYC is sufficiently protected? If not, what is your plan and what is your position on paying ransom?

As Mayor, I will dedicate staff from key enforcement divisions and CyberCommand to respond to violations of human rights and consumer protection laws that occur online, and continue to build out the platforms that supports New Yorkers to keep their data safe.


Question 5

How do you plan to address the issue of affordable housing when nearly 30 percent of people are spending half their income on rent? How do you define affordable housing?

I will use the opportunity this crisis creates to leverage empty units into real affordable housing. My housing plan as a whole will be comprehensive, recognizing that keeping public housing public and the creation of more deeply affordable units and housing the homeless, utilizing all the power of government and increasing resources, like the capital construction budget, will be a central part of my citywide affordable housing plan. Rather than focus on unit count, we need to ensure that the housing we build is deeply and permanently affordable. I will focus new construction on majority extremely low income and very low income communities. This includes a focus on building new supportive housing and converting distressed hotels into permanent supportive housing and focusing on building community land trusts and other community ownership vehicles and tools for social housing possibilities.

We need to change the City’s approach to land use and rezonings in ways that are principled. That means land use and rezonings that create and maintain affordable housing, with a focus on deep and permanent affordability over simple unit production. All land use and housing plans should include a fair distribution of resources and development that takes into account community needs and corrects for historic disinvestment and displacement.

As Mayor, I will work for creative solutions to expand our affordable housing stock by purchasing distressed properties and stimulating more non-profit housing development. In addition, I will work with the state to ensure that all new city subsidized developments include deeply and permanently affordable housing.

Vacant luxury housing is the result of increased gentrification and displacement. My administration will protect and preserve our communities by ensuring longtime residents of New York City can remain residents of New York City. As Mayor, I will make it a priority to explore ways for the City to acquire vacant luxury units to convert them into permanently supportive housing. In addition, I support a pied-a-terre tax, which would tax vacant luxury apartments that are not being used as primary residences. This tax could raise over $500 million per year, which would be spent toward efforts to build, improve, and purchase affordable housing options in New York City. Repurposing luxury units and other vacant units in order to serve our homeless population is a critical piece of my commitment toward housing justice and equity.


Question 6

How will you reinvest in and expand public housing, ensuring that all have a decent home? What are your specific plans to expand and revitalize public housing in NYC?

One of the greatest expenses burdening our residents is housing. From homeless and extremely low-income New Yorkers, to the middle class increasingly feeling squeezed out of the city, affordable housing that meets the needs of all our residents seems unattainable. This is a crisis that drives gentrification–displacing Black, Latino, and Asian New Yorkers and undermines our creative economy: the artists, musicians, actors and writers who make our lives richer and our economy more vibrant.

In my New Deal New York Plan, I have allocated $2 billion dollars to provide NYCHA with much needed repairs and help transform it into a place where people can live with dignity. My plan does not require the State or the Federal government– and instead uses our capital budget that is controlled by the mayor and I will implement my plan on day one.

NYCHA is home to 1 in 15 New Yorkers. NYCHA housing faces an estimated $40 billion in badly needed emergency repairs. Twenty-eight percent of NYCHA developments are located in the City’s floodplain and public housing residents in waterfront communities are among those most vulnerable to effects of climate change, sea level rise, and coastal flooding. Capital investment would begin to address decades of underinvestment and would provide residents safe living conditions while also making vital climate resilience updates to a substantial portion of our City’s housing stock. Investing in NYCHA would mean investing in job-ready skills and career pathways, promoting local hiring, and developing a model for long term sustainable safe and sustainable public housing. Investments will be determined with the participation and input of NYCHA residents.

Additionally, it is necessary that the federal government plays a role in reinvesting in our public housing programs. Representative Velazquez, among others, has a plan to bring $32B to NYCHA to transform public housing. When these federal dollars do come in, we need a mayor who will not only ensure that public housing stays public, but will prioritize giving tenants more agency and decision making power, hold management accountable, and handle those resources in a just and equitable manner.

A holistic approach to our housing and homelessness crisis means looking into repurposing hotels and commercial space. It means repairing NYCHA apartments that currently lie vacant because they’re uninhabitable. It means increased rent subsidies and legal services so families can stay in their homes to begin with. And it means recognizing there isn’t a single, one-size fits all solution. We need resources tailored to those experiencing homelessness – whether victims of domestic abuse, those suffering from addiction or mental illness, or queer and trans people who have specific needs. And it means safe havens and supportive housing for those who need additional supports and services to live with dignity.


Question 7

With the cost of living rising at nearly three times the rate of wages, 2.5 million working-age New Yorkers are struggling to provide food, housing, and other basic necessities for their families. What specific plans do you have to address poverty and the vulnerability of the working poor in NYC?

As previously mentioned, my Universal Community Care platform includes a proposal for a care income, which would reorient our efforts away from criminalizing poor families, and toward supporting their material needs. 100,000 of the most high need families would be eligible for an annual $5,000 grant to use toward caregiving expenses. About half of home-based child care providers are located in moderate- or high-poverty density areas, and less than one third are paid for providing care. Our care income therefore targets vulnerable New Yorkers, who are providing indispensable services to our communities. 


Public Health & Safety

Question 8

How do you plan to address the rise of hate crime incidents in NYC? How will your office engage with communities to promote hate crime reporting and prevention? Do you consider gender-based violence a hate crime? If so, how will you reduce and prevent it?

I have spent my career fighting against hate and for equity. As Counsel to the Mayor, the Ctiy Commission on Human Rights was under my supervision and I fought to have City Hall give it the focus and resources it deserves. As Mayor, no one will have to fight me to prioritize anti-discrimination and anti-hate work.

The fight against hate crimes must be multi-faceted and cross-departmental. CCHR and NYPD are the two agencies that must take the lead in an effective approach against hate. CCHR will lead the enforcement within government agencies and a citywide education campaign against hate. The NYPD will be tasked with protecting New Yorkers across the City, whether that be at synagogues or mosques or in communities at large.

I will bolster CCHRs education and enforcement capacity by moving the Mayor’s Office of Hate Crimes – which has consistently underperformed – into CCHR to ensure that it has the legal weight of the City behind it. The CCHR Office of Hate Crimes will work with Community leaders, the DOE and others to establish and implement citywide educational curricula against anti-semitism, islamophobia, transphobia, anti-asian bias and more.

The NYPD also has a large role to play in the fight against hate. We must put the public back in public safety. This means that City Hall — in consultation with communities, must establish the priorities and procedures for the NYPD. It also means rightsizing the department to ensure it isn’t performing tasks that are not policing and focusing the NYPD on a problems-oriented approach that allows them to focus on areas of greatest need, including protecting New Yorkers against Hate Crimes, which is a policing function. I will also examine the possibility of adding NYPD monitored cameras outside of high-risk locations, while heavily balancing concerns around data privacy and potential abuse of data.


Question 9

What is your vision for preventing and reducing the crimes of sexual assault and rape? Other than improving the transparency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, what multidimensional and innovative plans of action will you specifically implement?

My vision for preventing and reducing sexual assault and rape is grounded in shifting to a “community-driven” public safety model. My approach to innovation will be changing the very function of policing. Our solutions will be restorative, through comprehensive investments in the community based organizations that are trusted by New Yorkers, and serve as safe havens. I have laid out a comprehensive action plan against gender-based violence, focusing on: improving the economic independence of women and LGBTQI folks; providing safe shelter for those who need it; decriminalizing survivors; responding to harmful gender norms; increasing community knowledge of and access to support services; and long term, comprehensive intervention programs for perpetrators.


Question 10

Violent crime has risen to alarming levels, and home burglaries are up. What is your plan for reducing gun violence, sex crimes, and assaults/muggings that instill fear in the public and harm quality of life for city residents?

I believe in investing in community driven solutions to gun violence and crime. As a result of multiple instances of gun violence last summer, I held my first people’s assembly on the issue, which led to the December release of my Gun Violence Prevention Plan. A key component of this plan is the establishment of an $18 million Participatory Justice fund targeting those communities that are hardest hit by violence. This fund will allow residents of impacted communities to participate in the development of solutions that work specifically for them. We must commit to democratic, community-based participation in developing and implementing gun violence solutions–including an examination of what initiatives and innovations are working, as well as what additional investments, strategies, and partnerships will contribute to a meaningful change to the conditions that drive violence in our communities.


Question 11

How will you work to rebuild trust between the community and law enforcement, while also ensuring accountability for police misconduct, police brutality and sexual assault?

Under my administration, we will shift away from a “containment and control” policing model, which has proven to be ineffective in reducing crime, as 90% of the New Yorkers stopped during the height of stop-and-frisk, were completely innocent. This policy did, however, help to erode trust of the police in Black and Latino neighborhoods. 

Instead, we will take a “community-driven” safety model, which seeks to change the very function of policing into a practice that is restorative, through comprehensive investments in the community based organizations that are the lifeblood of neighborhoods across the city. These models are successful because they look toward pre-existing community assets for guidance, improve community “buy-in”, develop the capacity of neighborhood leaders, and restore trust. 

In addition, my policing platform proposes asserting civilian oversight of all policies and priorities of the NYPD on the front and back end. We must strengthen the CCRB by transferring the authority of disciplinary action from the NYPD police commissioner to the CCRB’s governing board to ensure that police who commit misconduct are truly held accountable.


Question 12

In 2019 alone there was a 52% increase in DV homicides and 911 received upwards of 800 DV calls a day. What is your plan to prevent, identify and keep women safe from abusive intimate partners?

I will take a multifaceted approach to addressing and preventing DV, recognizing that each of the contributing factors must be tackled to end domestic violence, specifically: 

  • Improving the economic independence of women and LGBTQI folks 

Economic independence is critical in violence prevention. The pandemic has exacerbated financial entanglement of couples by causing increased job loss and unemployment, particularly among women of color, immigrants, and workers without a college education. 

My Universal Community Care Plan is one step toward addressing this problem, and will allow for some of the most at risk New Yorkers to gain economic independence 

The plan builds on my New Deal New York proposal and works to rebuild economic growth in sectors dominated by women of color, address the crisis of affordable childcare and eldercare, and fight for fair wages and protections for care economy workers. 

  • Providing safe shelter for those who need it 

Domestic violence is a housing issue, with housing insecure New Yorkers making it difficult for some to leave a DV situation. The majority of people in shelters are women and families – 41% of whom are there because of DV 

In response, I will ensure that shelters are adequately funded, and streamline bureaucracy to expedite the transition to permanent housing 

  • Decriminalizing survivors of domestic violence 

The current criminalization and policing responses to domestic violence simply don’t work. Increased reliance on the criminal legal system has failed to lower rates of domestic violence, has worsened conditions that spur on that violence, and in some cases, harms the very people it was meant to benefit 

As Mayor, I will ensure that domestic violence is a central part of the legal system and police reform efforts 

  • Responding to harmful gender norms 

Gender stereotypes can undermine and limit people of all genders, and their capacity to develop their own abilities, careers, and choices about their lives 

I will strongly enforce NYC’s Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression 

In addition, I will create an awareness campaign around the harms caused by gender stereotyping 

  • Increasing community knowledge of and access to support services 

I will increase awareness of the services provided by the Family Justice Centers, and NYC’s HOPE Program, and ensure equitable distribution of these centers across the city 

In addition, our Community Care Centers will be information hubs for those seeking support or services related to DV 

  • Long term, comprehensive intervention programs for perpetrators 

Current batterer’s intervention programs (BIPs) offered by nonprofits and community organizations are of varying quality, and little is known about their effectiveness 

In response, we should pilot a range of interventions, including psychotherapeutic models, and evaluate them carefully, to develop service networks based on empirical evidence of effectiveness 

In addition, we should integrate BIPs into comprehensive integrated community services that can adequately address the multifaceted issue of domestic violence 


Question 13

Opioid deaths have ravished communities throughout NYC. In the first two months of 2020, 440 people died. How will you tackle this continuing public health crisis? What will you do differently than the outgoing administration to save lives?

I support the establishment of Overdose Prevention Centers (OPCs). As Mayor I will push for the State Department of Health to approve the use of safe injection and overdose prevention sites in the City. Overdose deaths in New York City have risen to record levels, in accordance with data from the rest of the country. According to the City Department of Health, in the first three months of 2020 overdose deaths reached their highest level in years. 444 New Yorkers died of overdoses from January to March, 41 more deaths than the previous highest quarter. We must begin seriously addressing these preventable fatalities, and overdose prevention centers are a crucial step in this direction. 

I will also push for decriminalization of Buprenorphine, which can be a lifeline for those struggling with opioid addiction and prevent the use of deadlier alternatives. Increased buprenorphine access has been proven to decrease overdose mortality in communities. Decriminalization is even more important now due to drug overdose deaths during the pandemic rising to the highest levels ever recorded.


Question 14

NYPD and EMT responded to all 154,000 mental health calls in 2020, how will you expand and strengthen Mayor de Blasio’s test programs to keep NYC police out of mental health crisis calls?

We must move from a punitive model of policing toward a problem-oriented approach. As Mayor, I will ensure we are responding to mental health calls, homelessness, and substance use issues from a public health position, rather than a criminal justice standpoint.

I support the expansion of the CAHOOTs model that is used in Eugene Oregon and is currently being tested in New York. The CAHOOTS model is referenced as one of the most successful models for mental health crisis intervention. In this model, teams composed of mental health crisis workers and EMT are dispatched through the local 911 dispatching system to respond to calls with police. The model also includes a non 911 dispatch line for non-emergency mental health situations. New York is currently testing the model in two pilot areas, and I will expand its usage.


Question 15

According to the Coalition for the Homeless, “In January 2021, there were 55,915 homeless people, including 17,645 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system”. What do you plan to do differently than the current administration to combat the issue of homelessness, particularly houselessness among women and households headed by single women with children in NYC?

At its core, homelessness is an eviction crisis and all New Yorkers are housing ready. It is incumbent upon the government to provide affordable housing with the services and support that people need. In this current crisis, we need to ensure that people can stay in their homes. I will expand the right to counsel to provide free legal representation to tenants facing eviction. We also need to find ways to immediately house people. Approximately 4,000 people are sleeping on the streets on any given night. At the same time, around 100 hotels will likely go bankrupt due to the pandemic. As Mayor, I will explore ways for the city to acquire these properties to convert them into permanently supportive housing. But in order to keep people in their homes and realize the humanitarian benefits and financial savings from doing so, we need to make a significant initial investment in direct rent relief. In December, Congressional Republicans finally stopped playing politics with people’s lives and a COVID-19 relief package was passed. Based on initial estimates, we anticipate $251M in Emergency Rental Assistance funding for the City. Even as we prepare for more resources from Washington, we know that it will likely not come close to addressing the massive housing crisis that has been exacerbated by this pandemic. I put forward a plan to use the $251m from the December Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program to: 

  1. provide long-term solutions and stability instead of continuing the destabilizing pattern of providing month-by-month aid that does nothing to ease the painful psychic burden of housing uncertainty; 
  2. stop New Yorkers hit by the crisis from being evicted; 
  3. help small and nonprofit landlords who cannot afford to absorb the loss of nonpayments; 
  4. address the reality that many families will still fall into homelessness and require rapid relief to remain in or return to housing. 

In the long term, the best defense against homelessness is ensuring that New York’s housing stock is safe and truly affordable for all New Yorkers. We need to build on the success of the housing first model by moving homeless individuals to subsidized housing and then linking them to support services. We would save money by investing in permanent supportive housing and repurposing vacant hotels and commercial space to do so.


Education & Childcare

Question 16

In NYC, less than half of 3rd to 8th grade students are meeting proficiency standards on ELA or Math state exams. Rates are far lower for Black and Hispanic students. What is your plan for achieving an educational system where all public school students are meeting or exceeding basic standards, regardless of race, income or zip code?

As a civil rights lawyer and co-chair of the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG), my education platform pays particular attention to breaking down the structural inequities that unfairly sort and segregate our children, and contribute to different educational outcomes, determined by race and class. I will eliminate admissions policies that have segregated schools and limited access to resources for families across the city, such as using redlined district boundaries, discriminatory admissions screens, and overly complex and time-consuming application processes. 

In place of our current system of discriminatory zoning and screening, a Wiley administration will build an inclusive, community-based approach to assigning children to our public schools. We will establish tight, achievable timeframes for these processes. As recommended by the SDAG, this integration planning will be borough rather than district-focused, and will be overseen by a Chief Integration and Equity Officer, to be hired within the first year of our administration. We will also break down walls between City agencies to ensure smart, coordinated planning to reduce mutually reinforcing patterns of residential and school segregation. 

We will support all efforts to repeal the state law that requires the use of the Specialized High School Admissions Test, and immediately eliminate the use of this test in admissions to all schools not specifically named by the Hecht-Calandra act. We will immediately convene a commission of experts to determine an educationally appropriate and equitable replacement admissions process. We will also discontinue the use of other school admissions policies that exacerbate segregation, including all middle school screens, and an application process so difficult to navigate that many families do not participate at all. 

In addition, with clear findings that teachers of color help close achievement gaps for students of color, a Wiley administration would increase efforts to draw diverse young people into the teaching profession by providing stipends while they study for certification, and covering the costs of certification exams. We would also continue to support and invest in the Teach NYC Career Training Program, which has been the largest single source of minority teachers since it began. 


Question 17

Five years after graduates filed a complaint that their Yeshivas didn’t provide a basic education as required by law, the city produced a report that found 26 of 28 Yeshivas investigated still did not meet Substantial Equivalency standards. Beyond “working with Yeshiva leaders” what will you do differently than Mayor De Blasio to get compliance?

All children deserve access to high-quality education. As Mayor, I would ensure that investigations into schools that communities have identified as a concern are prioritized, and I would do so in a transparent and ethical manner that includes an open discussion with the school community. I would increase oversight over these schools and implement specific metrics to ensure they meet City wide standards for education provision.


Question 18

Teen pregnancy, dating violence, prostitution and online sex harassment continue to derail students’ abilities to learn and live free of violence and abuse. What is your plan to ensure age-appropriate sex education and a healthy relationships curriculum is mandated and delivered to every NYC child?

I support the expansion of School Based Health Centers which ensure access to reproductive and sexual health services for our youth. I also support the implementation of a comprehensive age-appropriate medically accurate sexuality health education program from kindergarten through 12th grade that allows students to explore their intersectional identities and access services without fear of judgment and concern.


Question 19

What will you do to address the child care crisis that hinders women’s workforce participation, economic stability for families, and access to quality and affordable early education for children?

I have put forward a plan for Universal Community Care — is an ambitious interagency plan that rebuilds economic growth in sectors dominated by women of color and ensures that these jobs are good jobs, addresses the crisis of affordable childcare and eldercare, and fights for fair wages and protections for workers in the care economy. Universal Community Care recognizes that care exists in many forms: from paid childcare and elder care to direct services provided by frontline nonprofit workers to care provided within the home by family, to neighbors helping neighbors. This model will redirect $300 million in diverted resources from incoming NYPD and DOCCS cadet classes to give 100,000 high need informal caregivers a $5,000 annual stipend to compensate them for their labor. Using the Universal Community Care Model, I will also build community centers providing free childcare, eldercare, and other services in each neighborhood. And it will create strong, meaningful worker protections for our city’s care workers.


Question 20

Please describe what steps you will take to address the disproportionate amount of Black and Brown girls who are pushed out of school and into the juvenile detention system. What do you intend to do to stop the school to prison pipeline?

I will remove police officers from schools. They are a direct threat to the safety of our students and actively strengthen the school-to-prison pipeline. I will replace them with school safety teams, comprised of a collection of trained professionals including school counselors, administrators, re-trained school safety agents, mental health professionals, with expertise in de-escalation, trauma-informed care, and culturally responsive practices. These teams will actively work with students and address their needs holistically, rather than pushing them toward the juvenile system the way cops in schools do now. The 5000 current school safety agents – most of them women of color – have a role to play as well. These women can and must be retrained to be part of the school safety teams and the broader school community.


Question 21

Do you support decriminalizing sex buying and promoting prostitution, and why? If decriminalized, would you designate a sex trade zone? Would you license brothels and collect taxes? What would be the process to decide which neighborhoods would be deemed commercial sex districts?

I strongly support decriminalizing sex workers and do not support decriminalizing buyers. I have deep concerns about the unintended consequences on trafficking. As Mayor I commit to listening and partnering to ensure that we are making real and meaningful change for trans sex workers. That will include ending the VICE unit, funding and supporting community-driven solutions, including health, safety, justice and support services.


Question 22

Please describe what makes you uniquely qualified to lead New York City at this time.

I am running for Mayor because I am a change making leader who can bring New Yorkers together to recover from the COVID-19 crisis in a way that reimagines New York City so that it can be a city where we all can thrive. My philosophy is shaped both by my parents’ civil rights and economic justice organizing, living in a gentrifying Black community and attending a segregated school. Those experiences taught me how government and policy inscribed structural inequities and that people impacted must be authors of new ones that dismantle what’s unjust and co-create what will support dignity and justice. 

I went to law school to do that work. As a civil rights attorney, advocate and nonprofit organization leader, I have spent three decades confronting injustice and working in partnerships to create solutions to systemic problems from inadequate public school funding, access to health care, criminal justice reform and digital divide issues, among many others. I am the only candidate in this race that has formulated and built change making with communities outside of government and has also served as a member of the senior leadership team in City Hall where I had to help make real change and became thoroughly familiar with the inner workings of the mayor’s office.

There, I delivered for New Yorkers on civil and human rights, women and minority-owned businesses, universal broadband, and much more. And I did it by pulling people together inside and outside of government – from helping breakthrough the log jam on the first Sanctuary City legislation to getting every single unit in Queensbridge Houses free city broadband. After City Hall I was able to get the case against Daniel Pantaleo to the NYPD and retain civilian protection of that trial, which eventually got him off the force.

I am uniquely positioned to be a transformative leader because I know marshal all of the government’s resources to serve our people and know who has not been served well by government and how to change that. I will make history, not deals. From a place of principles, I will transcend business-as-usual tinkering and set this City on the path to transformation so that we develop without displacement, a job with a future, an education system that sees all of our children as exceptional and puts the public back in public safety and more. Justice and dignity require it.

This is within our reach, but it requires bold leadership that fearlessly confronts the realities New Yorkers face in partnership with our communities. I have spent three decades doing just that as a civil rights attorney, racial justice advocate, non-profit leader, and as a member of the senior leadership team in City Hall responsible for civil and human rights, women and minority-owned businesses, universal broadband, and much more. I left city government and became the Senior Vice President for Social Justice and joined the faculty at the New School, and stayed engaged in change-making outside of government employment. I served as the Chair of the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board and also Co-Chaired the School Diversity Advisory Group convened by the Chancellor of the Department of Education.

I will fight for New Yorkers of all races, religions, classes, and sexualities. My vision is a New York that rises from the ashes of twin pandemics — coronavirus and systemic racism — that deny investment for people of color. New Yorkers cannot afford the politics of least resistance and deserve leadership that will beat a path to shared prosperity — to become one city, rising together, out of the ashes and into a future we build and live together.