Monday April 19, 2021 we spoke with the candidates vying to represent the North Shore in the city council's 48th district now represented by the term-limited Councilwoman Debi Rose.
Good evening! My name is Sean Ghazala. I live in the 50th District, I work with a local community organization, and I am a cofounder of Plea for the Fifth. We would like to inform our panelists, and our audience, that we are recording this session.
Plea for the Fifth is Staten Island’s source for grassroots independent journalism. We are a group that launched in December 2020 under nine principles. Among them:
We strive for journalism that empowers Staten Island and believe in ethical news coverage that reflects the neglected in our communities namely black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+, immigrants, people with disabilities, youth, and the elderly.
We are concerned with the conditions that affect low-income members of our community.
We believe in workplace democracy, that the climate crisis is existential, and that housing scarcity is one of the most pressing and manufactured moral failings of our time.
We believe that systemic racism does incalculable harm to our community.
We release written pieces weekly, and record a podcast, we’re on social media, our handle is our name pleaforthefifth - all one word- we're on IG, Facebook, and Twitter. Our cooperative recently launched premium memberships, at $7/month to expand our coverage, and offer our supporters extra content. If you’ve liked our local coverage since launching, and the alternative in narrative we have provided Islanders we hope you will consider becoming a premium subscriber.
I want to shout out the incredible team at Plea that worked behind the scenes to bring this event to the District. I also wanna wish tonight’s producer Danny a happy birthday, and thank him for being with us tonight.
Plea for the Fifth recognizes the traditional occupiers of the land on which we are today - commonly referred to today as the Munsee Lenape. We pay our respects to their elders past and present and any indigenous elders of other communities who may be tuning in. We stand in solidarity in their struggle towards decolonization and landback.
The New York City primary is Tuesday June 22nd and with the crowded field we are looking forward to a spectrum of views. This year New Yorkers can rank-choice their vote - meaning you can rank up to five candidates in order of preference: so your first choice candidate first, second choice next, and so on. NYC council members play an important role in local governance, but the scope of their powers are not always understood. The elected city council member will be able to weigh-in on local land development, and the allocation of the city’s budget in services from schools, to parks, Rikers Island to the NYPD. Because of the unique responsibilities of the city council there are issues we aren't delving into tonight - like immigration, universal healthcare, or taxation of the wealthy - not because they are unimportant, but because they are often outside city councilors’ responsibilities.
Many in New York City including other elected officials seldom visit New York City, and so the winning candidate in many instances will be who Democratic officials consult with to ‘understand Staten Island’. The current council member Debi Rose was the first African American to represent Staten Island in elected office, is term limited and unable to run for reelection. Council members are now limited to two four-year terms.
We’re glad to see the size of the race, and the many folx who would like to step up to advocate for the North Shore in the City Council but because of the size of our panel tonight, I need to emphasize we will ask for succinct responses. We asked the candidates to provide a brief background of themselves and their campaign. You will find backgrounds on six of the nine candidates with us tonight on pleaforthefifth.com
With us tonight is:
- Amoy Barnes the Staten Island Director of the Education Transition and College Access Center at the New York City Department of Education
- Selina Grey former campaign manager to our incumbent city councilwoman Debi Rose
- Kamillah Hanks President & CEO of the Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership
- John McBeth Deacon at St. Philip’s Baptist Church
- Troy McGhie teacher and basketball coach
- Ranti Ogunleye director of the Gerard Carter Cornerstone of Staten Island’s Jewish Community Center
- Kelvin Richards public defender at the Legal Aid Society
- Aidan Rivera Shift Supervisor at G4S International Employment Services
- Michael Schanll Vice President of Government Relations and Community Investment at NY Road Runners
We welcome the nine of you, and thank you for time tonight. We will ask the candidates to respond in alphabetical order of last name, and the first to respond will rotate in alphabetical order. So for instance, on our first question we will invite Amoy Barnes to respond first then Selina Grey, and our second question Selina Grey, while Amoy Barnes will respond last after Michael Schanll - and so on. For each question I will identify the next to respond among our panelists - in case our panelists or viewers at home lose track. Let's get right into it.
For this first section we will ask a question, and each of you will have an opportunity to respond. Each candidate will have 90 seconds to answer. Our producer will provide a ten second time warning, please wrap up your thoughts at the time warning. Our producers will mute you if you do not make space for others within a timely period.
The development of a BJ’s Wholesale store and gas station at the Graniteville Wetlands is currently a hot button issue. Despite concerns from the community, the development was supported by Debi Rose, who called concerns from environmentalists “scare tactics,” and passed by City Council in a 45-1 vote in 2017. In 2021 Staten Islanders are still pushing back against the destruction of this ecologically sensitive site. The Save Graniteville Wetlands march this Saturday April 24th at noon aims to raise further awareness for the cause. The Coalition for Wetlands and Forests is suing the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Graniteville project is just one example of concerns regarding overdevelopment, gentrification, industrialization and corporatization of the North Shore. The North Shore - which does not receive the same kind of funding for preserving green spaces as the South Shore - and is blacker and browner than our South Shore, is more at risk to the dangerous effects of climate change.
Given our nickname as the borough of parks, why is climate change, one of the most dire existential crises we face, and the environment not a core issue in your campaigns? If we’re mistaken on its omission, what is the most urgent item in your campaign that addresses climate change?
We invite Amoy Barnes to answer first
AB (00:13:47): Thank you so much for that question and thank you so much to Plea for the Fifth and my fellow candidates for having me today and for all those who are watching. One of the things that I always like to say is that everything is connected. Nothing lives in a silo so when my platform talks about transportation we're talking about climate change because if we're able to get people out of their cars and put people in public transportation that makes our climate better. When we're talking about housing we're talking about climate change because if we're able to put people in good sustainable affordable housing and making sure that housing is built sustainably that is climate change and that is successful. When we're talking about education and we're talking about making sure all schools are community schools we're talking about keeping our communities healthy we're talking about better lifestyles better living even maybe even turning our school yards into green markets on the weekend that's climate change because we're keeping people healthy and we're making sure that people have access to good food and fixing the food insecurity issue when we're talking about um access to public spaces we're talking about climate change so one thing that i always say is that there is nothing on my platform that does that does not include climate change because it all works together and when we really look to facilitate and fix all these issues it improves our climate situation one of the things i say all the time is when you look at our waterfront and how inaccessible it is it looks like sandy hit it just yesterday really what we should make sure that we do is understand that everything is connected to climate change and when we improve all these issues we work to improve our climate issue
SG (00:15:32): Thank you Selina invite you to go next
SGr (00:15:36): Thank you, thank you very much. Climate change has been one of - a major part of - my platform. I'm part of the New York State Nurses’ Association, so I will be participating in that march, along with the New York State Nurses’ Association, and with Citizens Action because I am a member of Citizens Action here on Staten Island so that is part of my platform. So when we talk about green spaces, when we talk about overdevelopment of Staten Island we need to look at it holistically and also the big picture. Zoning is a big issue here we can't continue to piecemeal zoning when it comes to a project we need a city council member, a borough president, and everybody to get involved community board to get involved with rezoning that is how we will address the over development of Staten Island when we talk about historical districts we need to rezone those districts to be historic that will defeat a lot of the development that goes on. When I look out my window I live on Lake Avenue I look on Housman Avenue, I have a big storage unit going up there's four of them going up in a two mile radius of each other on Richmond Terrace. I don't really hear anybody talking about that - why are we not addressing that? That is going up in black and brown communities all the way from Elm Park to St. George. That is a problem. Do we need four storage units? I don't think so and they're right on our waterfront that could be a space for affordable housing so I am addressing climate and actually development in my platform thank you.
SG: Thank you Selina, John McBeth we invite you to go next
JM (00:17:20): Yes. Good afternoon and thank you for having me. Climate change of course is important to all Staten Islanders. This project in particular has been on my radar since well before 2017 when it was first introduced, and when the developer specifically sued the state for access to buffer zones of the isolated wetlands it did create a circumstance under which people had some minor misunderstanding about what was actually going on. That said, one of the things that I’m specifically looking forward to changing is I want to be more proactive. One of the things that came up in this discussion regarding these particular wetlands as well as other projects and development around Staten Island is we tend to be the last ones as the people on the ground to know about what's going on and it just simply shouldn't be that way. I don't know who knows first but I know who will know second and that is the constituents in my district if i'm elected city council person. Climate change is obviously important. We have the highest rates of asthma. We have high rates of cancer from the pollution coming over from Jersey. Every tree is going to matter to us, and it's vitally important that we do our best to save every single one of them, as much as humanly possible. I too will be at that march representing myself of course, as well as making sure that we continue to be the borough of parks and a safe place for kids to play, and where oxygen exchange between trees and humans can continue unabated and actually better. Thank you.
SG: Thank you John, Troy we invite you to go next
TM (00:19:14) : Thank you Sean, and thank you to Plead the Fifth for putting this forum together and having us be able to share our views. So you touch on a very important point; climate change, and like Amoy says, everything is climate change, it's on my platform. I specifically talk about education and preparing our students for the jobs that are going to be there in the future, and the jobs that are going to be there in the future are clean air jobs. We need to be able to bring these clean air energy jobs to the forefront so that we can have an impact on climate change. We also need to put in legislation that makes sure that we protect our future generations and make sure that we have sustainable living environments for our kids, but with that being said, I want to touch on the BJ's. We're in a totally different time in space right now with Covid-19 than we were back in 2017. and with that being said I see no reason at all why a big box store needs to be developed and put into that space when we need to be taking care of our small businesses and making sure that our small mom and pops get back on their feet. Think about it, anything you can get at BJ’s a lot of people can get online right now there's no need for a big box store to be going into those wetlands. So we need to really take a deep dive and look into the necessity of a BJ's going in on those wetlands and developers. Here's my thought: for every tree that comes out you need to, and I will make sure, that you're planting two or more for every one you take out.
SG: Thank you Troy, Ranti we invite you to go next
RO (00:21:36): When I think about my platform and climate change, I think it's something that's near and dear to me. I was transformed from a trip to Vienna, Austria that was focused on sustainability. And I tell this story all the time: I didn't even know how to spell the word. And that was a key moment in my life because I realized it was up to me to look at the world as a global citizen and use the lens of human rights to take action. And if you look at my platform and everything that I've done: I've started a Bee-U University, where students can learn about how the bees affect the environment and our ecosystem, so we can begin to educate young people to have healthy understandings of their environment and how they actually are connected to the environment. Because if you teach them young, then you won't need to have all these situations where you have to get community members to understand how important climate change is, because it is something that will be ingrained into them from young. So this is why we need someone like me, who has been posed to educate young people about their environment. In terms of the BJ’s fighting against this, it's also about leadership having the foresight to understand that community members were screaming for other things, they weren't screaming just for jobs, right? I understand that is important, but understanding how sustainability works, we need to make sure that our community is structured so our children's children can have better access to resources. Having a BJ’s is just short-term. We're not thinking about the long-term effects of the environment. I'm not just going to be participating in those BJ’s marches, I'm one of the actual organizers. And this is what I've done all my community work: involving the community, getting people to understand how important their role is in climate change, and then acting. And acting through not only policy, but bringing the community together. Because we know that the community is best positioned to solve their own issues, we just need to give them the resources to do so.
SG: Thank you Ranti, Kelvin we invite you to go next
KR (00:23:51): Thank you to Plea for the Fifth for having us; thank you to my fellow colleagues. Yes, listen, climate change is very important. I think we need to expand and protect our wetlands and our open spaces. It's something that is very dear and near to me. I think we need to educate our people about renewable uses and so forth - but when it comes to the BJ's, again, it's something that we have to actually have community involvement. You know, I'm someone that if a developer is going to come to the North Shore and make a proposal, I'm going to first have community involvement. I understand the BJ’s might bring a few jobs, but again, it's not just about BJ's; it's about how can you protect and expand our wetlands and our green spaces on the North Shore. So addressing the issues that have to do with overdevelopment you actually say “how can we tackle overdevelopment on the North Shore.” It's a holistic approach. You have to consider the transportation system on the north shore - because if you have overdevelopment it is going to filter into transportation; you have to address housing, affordable housing and so forth- that's also going to factor in. So there's a lot of things we could do on the North Shore to actually help the climate but it's also going to help with traffic, it's going to help with congestion, and it's going to help with our mental health and our physical health. So my platform actually addresses climate change in a holistic approach; it's not just in isolation and it's something that I'm willing to tackle.
SG: Thank you Kelvin, Aidan we invite you to go next
AR (00:25:48): Hi, well thank you for having me, and thank you for everyone that's here right now. I really just want to take a moment to say that I'm really proud that personally one of the main things that I mentioned on my website from the beginning of my campaign has been the environment and how much it matters. I think back to my past, and how growing up as a little kid I would spend time at the Greenbelt and High Rock park as a young naturalist and just learn about how nature and everything is interconnected. And then during high school for a couple years I worked with my hands maintaining the land at Serpentine art nature Commons right by Park Hill. And it really just gave me a better appreciation for, like you said ,the fact that we are the borough of parks. And that is a sense of pride that we should take and that there's something that we should preserve, and that is our green space because once it's gone we don't get it back and there's something very valuable specifically about the Wetlands which is somewhere that that development does not need to be built. If you look at the safety around it. The fact that the surrounding area will be flooded if there is any heavy rains. If there is anything close to what we experienced with Hurricane Sandy, and we know how bad things like that could be. You think about the health benefits that we're losing the clean air, the air quality. Somewhere for the youth to enjoy. Somewhere for all of us to enjoy, especially during Covid. And if people care so much about money, you have to realize the bottom line that also impacts that area in that community there's food deserts that aren't addressed. But we have a BJ's being dropped there. The fact that the gas station which will be connected to it conflicts with other gas stations that are already in the neighborhood and those aspects which have not been considered and I personally would consider, so thank you.
SG: Thank you Aidan, Michael you close us out.
MS (00:27:45): All right, thanks for having us.Ii really appreciate it. Great to see all my colleagues here. So as a former New York City parky, green flows through my blood, so trees-- I’m a proud tree hunger. What i will say on the wetland issue is Protectors of Pine Oaks Woods is the oldest environmental group on Staten Island between them and New York State DCE many years ago they stopped the developer from building what Selena was talking about those large empty warehouses there and they stipulated the 10 acres of protected wetland that was not part of the as of right development. So I would encourage everyone to go back and talk to Protectors of Pine Oak Woods, read the research that they did, and they're actually going to probably come out with a statement at some point, reinforcing the work that was done there. But I will also say that that wetland project is a canary in the coal mine, and we should be very careful that we're focused just on that one and not on everything else that's coming down the pike. I had involvement with protecting Reed's Basket Willow Swamp Park and sued a homeowner who encroached upon that property and got the city to mitigate-- get mitigated damages from that homeowner. I've also worked with encroachment on parkland and I've also worked on increasing our tree canopy, and I'll say that we need to look at what's out there and what the potential next wave of encroachments are. The deforestation issues and all the other things coming down the pike. One last thing I want to mention that trees coming down-- I drafted and got passed and signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg, a local law 3 of 2010 which dictates how trees are removed on city parkland and the steep, steep fines and costs involved with those tree removals. Unfortunately, on this property I believe because it's private, there's less of a steep a penalty for tree removal, so I would encourage and work with the next group of council members to draft legislation to improve our protections on private trees.
Historically economic development projects in NYC have frequently left out or inadequately employed vulnerable populations such as: LGBTQ+ individuals, Black and Brown folk, Women, and individuals with disabilities. Youth WINS, the coalition of Staten Island youth workforce development organizations, recommends that we increase funding for bridge programming which helps young people develop the essential skills and acquire the credentials that they need to successfully transition into a career with a family sustaining wage. Plea has previously reported on cuts to the Learning to Work and Summer Youth Employment Program and the impact it has on future job development for the next generation of students.
What will you do in terms of funding, and to improve the system which lacks a centralized department for workforce development?
SGr (00:31:03) Thank you, so one of the things that I've always spoke about and since i love the unions and I've worked for one was the lack of jobs available to our black and brown students because everyone is not college bound a lot of them want to go into the workforce but they need jobs with a living wage or prevailing wage even and also with benefits so they can actually move out of my house because I have a daughter that thank god she moved out, but a real prevailing wage job. I think that if like we have ROTC in our high schools, why can't we have the unions come in and bring those type of programs and they do do it but not on a larger scale and one of the things that i do support and i do advocate for is that our unions come in and teach our children's trades if it's the iron workers if it's even welding those type of jobs where they can really make prevailing wages because there's not enough of our black and brown children afforded those opportunities to get into those really good prevailing wage jobs so i would actually put funding into the board of education to actually do those collaborative type partnerships to expand on it because it is done but not on the large scale that is my vision.
SG: Thank you Selina, John we invite you to respond next
JM (00:32:31): Sure, thank you. In my initial campaign announcement, one of the things I specifically mentioned was a return of vocational schooling and vocational programs here on Staten Island. As a product of a vocational school, when mckee was both a vocational and technical school, i actually had the opportunity to experience both sides, both the vocational side and printing and the technical side in architectural drafting, and the benefit is obvious right. We'll produce a workforce that is almost ready to hit the ground running.Yes, we can get some cooperation from nearby businesses and unions. It was a program that i actually started with my supervisor way back in 2004 where we started to try and launch a program where we would take high school students directly out of mckee and give them the sufficient skills that they would need to enter the workforce at a wage that wasn't a minimum wage, that was a sustainable wage that the unions currently enjoy over there at Davis Avenue. One of the other things, one of the more important things, is that bringing back vocational schools will also give me the opportunity to allow adults to retrain for new types of careers in case their sector dies.
SG: Thank you John, Troy we invite you to respond next
TM (00:34:06) Thank you. Well, as an educator I can speak very heavily to this point, and what we need to do is create partnerships with businesses. Partnership with leaders in the community, partnerships with different unions, and partnerships like the ones that we had when the old co-op program was in the schools. So envision our future where we could have students do one week on the job as an apprentice, be it in construction, be it in a law firm, be it in a hospital. Even better as a teacher and another week in the school learning and then at that week that they're out getting hands-on skills they could be learning remotely or asynchronously so they would still be keeping up with their studies, but they would be out there getting living life skills on the job in an area that they had an interest in. You could have someone working on sound boards and being in music; you could have someone out learning how to be an electrician; you could have someone going through the process learning how to become a teacher, and have our black and brown students get a leg up and move into getting living wages so that when they get out of school or when they get out of college they already have the skill set that they need to go further in life and not be on the sidelines watching. So I think that it's very very important and I would promote and I would have a coalition in the Council to bring back the partnership model or the co-op model in this day and age so that students would be able to one have a week where they could be working and getting on the job skills and be be asynchronous and still learning, and then have that other week where they're in school and getting in-person instruction. That would be my plan.
SG: Thank you Troy, Ranti you're up next.
RO (00:36:19): I think when you think about education it's about reimagining what education looks like. I was transformed from an opportunity outside the classroom, so what happens outside the classroom has to apply to what happens in the classroom. My transformation process happened through travel; someone's transformation process might come through a carpenter apprentice program. So we need to strengthen the programs that already exist. There are NYCHA tech programs that exist. We need to make sure that the city is allocating enough funding so that it can be more comprehensive and more young people can access it. We're talking about our most vulnerable community members. I think about my role as the director of the Gerard Carter Center: I work hand in hand with Jobs Plus and the NYCHA tech programs, these training programs that will not just give kids a job, but will actually give them a career and increase their chances for upward mobility. That's what we're actually talking about, and we need a city council member who's going to fight at every level. What we have here is a lot of people who you know are close to the seat, so what happens is it's from a top-down model. You need someone who actually understands and has opposed what's actually really going on. Again my Bee program is a prime example of the innovation that you're going to need to inspire young people, young people learning different facets. But we have to be creative, and it starts with not just talking about it: it starts with actually doing it. So you see my Bee program is one thing we think about, the vocational programs as well, but there are already programs like NYCHA tech programs and other things. Also we need to incentivize businesses that do businesses with training programs that hire from NYCHA. Right, this is how you actually make it work for the community members get NYCHA involved. But say hey, you know what? We can work within the community. Let's also get these community-based organizations involved, because they're the ones that are actually filling those gaps that the government has. This is how you increase the availability for our young people to move up upward while reimagining what education looks like.
SG: Thank you Ranti, Kelvin we invite you to go next
KR (00:38:40): Yeah, thank you. I mean for me this issue is very critical because I have a lot of clients- young people 16, 17, 18 year-olds - in the criminal justice system that as part of their parole or probation they have to have work and I always refer them to the workforce. And again, we have to increase the resources and the funding so these young people have access, but I agree with my colleagues- everybody's not built to go to law school or medical school. Some people are just built to just have a vocational education and I think it's something that I support and I want to actually expand. I'm a fan of Curtis High School where you have young people in Curtis High School who actually get their Nurse Practitioner license while they're in high school. Think about it, you could go to Curtis High School when you graduate from high school you could already be a nurse. I mean, you're not a registered nurse- you're a licensed nurse practitioner- you're an LPN. That actually introduces our young people to jobs and several career opportunities at a younger age. For me, you also spoke about the summer youth program, that's very critical. Ninety percent of my young clients normally have contact with our criminal justice system in the summertime. Why? because we don't have adequate summer programs to get them involved and engaged. They say an idle mind is the devil's playground. We need to have our young people involved, engaged, and participating in summer programs so they would stay off the streets, so they could have something positive to do and not get involved in the criminal justice system. So for me it’s a whole approach with the summer program and the workforce and I want to actually expand on resources to have these things running and I'm never going to support a budget cut to our summer programs. Thank you
SG: Thank you Kelvin, Aidan we invite you next.
AR (00:40:44): Alright, thank you. So this is a really great topic and I'm glad that we're touching upon it, because like you mentioned, there's a lot of marginalized communities and at-risk populations which aren't going addressed. That includes the youth, LGBTQ community members, non-english speakers, and more. So as a young person myself I’ve experienced and I know friends that have experienced; even if you have a degree you may have a problem job hunting. So what's important is we have a problem where Mckee is a great technical school and you could learn vocation and a trade, but we also have to focus on co-op programs where students can learn and work at the same time. They can work part-time and make use of that. We also have to have programs like child care programs so that working class, maybe single mothers could have childcare and work at the same time. We need job readiness resources; We need ESLl courses for non-english-speaking members of the community so that they can get into the job field. It's mutually beneficial for everyone so we really just need to invest in programs that are being defunded or not funded enough. Then we need to create programs that we don't have already to address this, and that's what I would hope to do. Thank you.
SG: Thank you Aidan, Michael I invite you to respond.
MS (00:42:14):All right well I'll say first immediately, during the pandemic and post-pandemic the city and state has to remove any and all obstacles to rehiring, so if we can't get folks back into the careers that they had and they lost during the pandemic I think we we lose an opportunity to get folks back where they're comfortable. And the folks that we that cannot get rehired, we need to let consider some job route training programs-- one very similar to some of the other folks are saying career and technical education programs are key and I would reintroduce trades programs in the high schools, woodworking, metal shop, auto shop were the three most influential things that I had at Susan Wagner High School, and they were gone within a few years after my graduation to make room for more testing rooms for state tests. I think that's horrible. We need to require all local developments to hire local labor. We cannot allow them to escape from those requirements by crying poverty. We need to grow and expand the Grow NYC youth markets which employ our high school kids to run fresh food markets on street corners and underserved neighborhoods. I think it's a critical learning skill for them to understand how to get a supply chain set up and do their own finances and it'll put them in a better place post high school. Two commitments to when I get into the council-- one I will pay my interns, that's critical and it makes a huge impression on young people when you pay them for the value that they're giving to you and two that the council office will support numbers and numbers of nonprofits. Non-profits make up 20 percent of the employable workforce in New York City, so I think we need taxpayer dollars that those nonprofits are employing people at a living wage, and they're doing it in a sustainable way and they're keeping and they're teaching them critical skills that they can then move from that non-profit and do other great things for our city.
SG: Thank you Michael, Amoy we invite you to close us out
AB (00:44:13): thank you so this is something that's very close to my heart because I work as the Staten Island director of the transition college access center. My office is specifically tasked with supporting students with IEPs to help them transition from high school to college or career readiness. One of the things that I've seen and that I've learned throughout my tenure in this position is that a lot of times we forget to talk about our vulnerable populations especially our students with disabilities and our adults with disabilities they fall through the cracks. A lot of businesses and organizations aren't sure how to sometimes support and work with individuals with disabilities so i think there's a lot of opportunity to there to provide small businesses and businesses with trainings and supports on how to take in and support individuals with disabilities and also making sure that we're connecting people with the resources and services that already exist in government. A lot of times I always say we need to stop reinventing the wheel we know what works we know what's out there and the role of your elected officials is to connect people with the resources and services that are already out there to the people so we have ACCES-VR which has the 54 A program that helps individuals with disabilities get a civil service job without taking a civil service exam there's all these opportunities and we have yet to really see them prosper the way they can. A lot of times I've also said the civil service test is an amazing opportunity to connect young people and many people adults as well into jobs and opportunities I'm endorsed by DC37 the largest union here in the city and all too often one of the things that i find is a disadvantage is that our young people don't even know how to take civil service exams so one of the things i would love to do is be able to put those civil service exams in our schools and make them more accessible and allow people to be able to take them as much as possible adult and students alike and also thinking about our lgbt community our drop-in centers our drop-in centers can be also places for workforce development at the end and i also agree with my fellow colleagues we need to look at more co-op programs when i went to curtis high school a lot of my friends were in the LPN program but a lot of my friends were in the co-op program and that is no longer at curtis high school anymore i had friends who were working at american express at 17 years old and then they got a job straight out of straight out of high school and then also making sure we have access to our apprenticeship programs apprenticeship programs are amazing opportunities to introduce our young people into the trades but also it's a great way to also introduce people into transitional supports and transitional workforce opportunities so once again all these things that we've just mentioned already exist or have existed before we just need to make sure that as city council we do the work to connect people to those resources and services because that's what elected officials are there for they're the conduit and the liaison to those resources that our tax paying dollars paid for
SG: In response to gun violence and drug use at the Tompkinsville Park, the 120 Precinct has recently announced that two NYPD officers will be stationed at the park from 7am-midnight. Given that Eric Garner was killed across from Tompkinsville park in 2014 because of over-policing and the relationship between the police and Black and Brown communities on Staten Island, do you think this is an effective solution? Yes or No. If elected District 49 city council representative how will you work to tackle this issue?
JM (00:48:03): The issue in Tompkinsville Park is not a new issue to Staten Island. As a matter of fact, it's kind of a transplanted issue before it was in Tompkinsville Park, it was another area and it eventually got pushed out of that area. So, utilizing police to push people out of the area while it seems great on the surface is not the actual solution. The solution I actually presented previously to the council member i've been asking a lot of questions about implementing it and how we can get it implemented here on Staten Island as soon as possible before i come into office and that solution is is to have a high impact mobile drug treatment center that can come to the people find them where they're at. Incentivize them to treatment utilizing things like vouchers and things of that nature. This program has seen great successes in other areas and I think it will see great success here. We cannot just keep pushing this problem around. Secondly, obviously, we can't as I said many times before, we cannot arrest ourselves out of this situation. The issue with drugs is real. It's going to be with us for quite some time until we decide that we're going to put forth the resources, the time, the energy, and the effort to do the hard work of actually helping people to recover. Thank you.
SG: Thank you John, Troy we invite you to respond next
TM (00:49:31): Yes, the issue that we have at Thompsonville park is an issue that we have in many locations on the North Shore of Staten Island. I’m going to echo what John just said; we need to get to the underlying root of the issue. Yes, part of it is drug issues; part of it is mental health issues, but we need to be able to treat those issues and give people opportunities to come out on the other side from those issues with jobs, with a better sense of self, with a better mental health than they have now. This pandemic has shown us a lot of things and mental health issues here on Staten Island is one of them, and I am a big proponent, and one of the issues on or my priorities on my campaign is mental health services. And I don't have to tell you Sean, I don't have to tell anyone on this forum that Staten Island has one of the lowest mental health inpatient services both for adults and for adolescents in the city, so we need to be able to champion issues like that, and I will do that as our next City Council member. I will also give programs that will benefit people with mental health issues and drug addiction. I think that that is the underlying route to the issues that we have at that location and many others, and I think that we need to get to the underlying issues and not put a band-aid and over-police it. Thank you.
SG: Thank you Troy, Ranti we invite you to respond
RO (00:51:14): Mental health issues have plagued the North Shore for many years because we have an ill-equipped structure for healthcare. We don't have a healthcare infrastructure. And when we think about prisons, they have become the new mental health facilities. Let's be honest with ourselves, you have 10 times the amount of people that are locked up with mental health issues than in mental health facilities. You know why? Because there's no mental health facilities; that's why there's over-policing. When government fails, what do we do? We call in the police because we know that the structures are failing us, so we compensate these issues by putting the police there when we know that intervention and prevention is how you actually address what we've been seeing plaguing, not just Tompkinsville Park, but right in my catchment area where I work in Stapleton where community members are suffering. One of my students Josiah lost his life, he committed suicide. Because when we think about wrap-around services that don't exist in our communities, this is what exactly happens when we keep getting lip service and not actually what we really need. It's not even a band-aid. We know policing has been decimating communities of color: it's been hypocritical, it's been vicious, and it is not a way that we are going to address the plague that we see in our communities. What we need to do is stop treating addiction and poverty like it's a crime; that's what we need to first stop doing. The way we think about mental health and the way we think about drug addiction, once we begin to change that, now we begin to think about a comprehensive plan that looks like building up our health care infrastructure. This is how we're going to be able to mitigate the issues that we see around mental health, so we're not just continuing to brutalize these communities that are already being affected by these issues. We want to support them, and we support them with real resources and no longer lip service.
SG: Thank you Ranti, Kelvin invite you to respond
KR (00:53:23): Yeah, thank you. The issue at the park is more of a mental health issue than a police issue you know. You cannot arrest everybody and lock them up in Rikers Island. Even if you arrest someone for possession it's a misdemeanor and the maximum time you do for a misdemeanor is one year; you do two thirds of the time it’s eight months. So what we have to address is the core issue, the crux of the issue- which is mental health and substance abuse. Once you address mental health and substance abuse then you will get to the core of the issue. Again, I have a lot of clients who frequent the park. We have a lot of homeless people at the park. We also have to address housing issues- permanent housing. We have to address shelters, housing, mental health and substance abuse. Again we need resources. A lot of my clients that I’m representing in criminal court that have mental health issues or substance abuse issues, I have to actually send them to Manhattan to find beds. For instance, I took a plea a few weeks ago and my client needed some kind of mental health and substance abuse counseling. There wasn't a bed available here on Staten Island; I had to get my social worker to transport that person to Manhattan to the program there. I think we need to invest more here on Staten Island to address this issue because the issue is not just people at the park in the summertime, on the benches using drugs and so forth. You want to reduce the amount of exposure that these people have with the police. We understand sometimes things go south when people with mental health issues interact with the police because the police are not well equipped to handle these situations and it could lead to death. We have cases where someone has an episode, where the NYPD, where the police were involved and that person ended up dead. We have to actually address mental health issues, the police and how the police can actually understand that these people need help. They're victims and I think it's sad for them to be placed in the position where they will be arrested, exposed to the criminal justice system and then put in jail. Thank you.
SG: Thank you Kelvin, Aidan I invite you to respond.
AR (00:55:41): Hi. Thank you so much for this, these two issues are something that's really near and dear to me, both gun violence and police use of force. I was a victim of gun violence at only 15. On the way home from Curtis High school, sitting at a bus stop, I was shot, and that really gave me a different point of view on this issue. I’m lucky enough and blessed that I'm here today. A lot of people aren't, and all too often you see people who are my peers my age being shot and killed in senseless acts of gun violence, or you will see an unintended target getting shot just on a street somewhere. And immediately after that happened to me I worked with Debi Rose then on two initiatives to combat violence in general, and gun violence, and then when I went to college and I studied criminal justice at Pace University. One of my favorite topics to study was community policing, and how police can interact better with the public, and the communities that they're supposed to protect and serve. And then afterwards, I interned shortly at the United Nations with a non-governmental organization called the International Action Network on Small Arms and that gave me a perspective because I worked with small local groups from across the world to create a network that they could then use to communicate on ways to combat gun violence in their communities. And we need to do that by acting proactively not reactively, which the solution that the police are using right now is great to solve gun violence in that one park at those hours. But what happens down the street or when that police presence ends, it's what you get when you react to a symptom, but not the root cause. And we need to address that and we need to address that with not over policing not facial recognition programs. We need to address that with community-led programs and people and people interactions so that's how I would face that. Thank you.
SG: Thank you Aidan, Michael
MS (00:57:51): It's a case of whack-a-mole. I mean you're moving people from one park, to another park, to another park, it's not addressing the root causes like many of my colleagues have said. When i was the chief of staff for New York City parks when Eric Garner was murdered, we met with NYPD to talk about having a greater police presence in the park during the day to sort of manage what was going on to figure out who the people were that kept going back and and committing the sort of the criminal acts in the park. They refused to get involved, and many years later I'm happy to say that that commanding officer Kinsella has allocated police officers but not just police officers in a vehicle, they're actually walking the park and walking the neighborhood, and I think that makes a big difference in terms of the perceptions of the neighborhood to those police officers. They get to know who they are. They get to see them from outside of their vehicle, and I think it'll go a long way. But like many of my colleagues have said, the homeless situation in the area it's unabated and actually Mayor de Blasio is probably piling on way more than the neighborhood can handle at this point. Those folks are walking the neighborhood with no programs to go to, no job training, no permanent home placement, nothing. What I've done when I lived there, I lived on St Paul's Avenue for 14 years, started the Tompkinsville restoration project with my neighbors. We brought positive programming to parks. We partnered with Everything Goes to bring St. George Day to the park. We did holiday lighting events. We did other holiday events, and we work with the local businesses, and it's always true and every parky will tell you that positive experiences of parks brings positive people and pushes out the negative, so I would encourage the Staten Island Urban Center and others to continue to do the things they're doing to bring back a more positive perception of Tompkinsville Park and work to start programming so that our homeless population can find things during the day to do that are helpful for them to reintegrate into our our society.
SG: Thank you Michael, Amoy we'll invite you to respond next
AB (00:59:53): So unfortunately what we see in Tompkinsville Park is various issues: mental health issues, housing, a violence crisis. We really are dealing with a crisis in our community that requires the need for more social workers the need for more drop-in centers the need for more supportive housing the need for more social workers the need for more workforce development all these resources and services we have to make sure we're connecting them to the people that need them but we're providing a space a safe space to connect those individuals with the resources a lot of times those individuals are leaving the drop-in homeless shelter that is up the block and they're congregating in that park because they have nowhere to go because they don't know where to get services and resources. I cannot stress this enough. We have those services and resources we know where those services and resources come from, we need to make sure that those services and research are in our community, we need to make sure that we give those individuals who need those services or resources. All too often I cannot stress this enough and I'll keep on saying this government is supposed to be the entity that is connecting those who are most disenfranchised in our community to those resources and services I cannot stress this enough so at the end of the day we know how to fix these problems we do we know how to fix them we just need to fund them accordingly and that is what your elected officials and city council members are supposed to do and that is what i want to go to city council and do it's a fight to make sure we get the appropriate funding especially here on the north shore that has consistently disproportionately dealt with a lot of these issues especially in black and brown communities.
SG: Thank you Amoy, Selina we invite you to close us out
SGr (01:01:56) :thank you so what we see in Tompkinsville Park the homeless issues the mental health issues and we do know that we don't have enough inpatient mental health beds here in Staten Island we talk about resources the resources are not here nor do we have the funding we know that the city has a deficit we also know that the state has a deficit and how do we make up that deficit one of the things that i know we can do is reallocate money from the NYPD putting two police officers in the park is not going to solve the issue we actually need social workers in those parks we actually have a great program like Tru2life we can partner with organizations like that they can go in there and speak to the people in the park to provide those mental health resources and support services because we don't have the services here and the way we can get that is reallocating money get more social services. They want to put another 100 room men's shelter here do we need that shelter there and not that I say we can't provide shelter for homeless people, but where's the transitional housing where's the permanent housing we're already we're placing more homeless people in an area was already struggling for social services so until we can combat that issue in our own community we can't take on any more it's like a wet paper towel and you put bricks on top of it it's going to break we need to find the money allocated to the proper resources yes to police officers but supportive services are more important we need social workers in those parks we need organizations like Tru2Life to partner with the police officers and make sure that we have those those actual services there for people in need and not more homeless shelters and in our communities because that's not what's needed right now we need to help our residents that are living here that are struggling that's what we need to do and that's what i'll do as your next city councilwoman
SG Thumbs up/thumbs down section:
Q1: In late 2018 on Staten Island the Retail Wholesale Department Store Union (RWDSU) attempted to unionize Amazon warehouse workers, but the effort petered out. In March of 2020, Amazon infamously fired an assistant manager on Staten Island named Chris Smalls for organizing fellow employees around their inattention to COVID-19 protocols. In the summer of 2020, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust took historic action with its, “Investigation of Competition in Digital Markets,” and identified Amazon as a powerful, predatory monopoly. Just last month, the National Labor Relations Board conducted an election for Amazon employees in Bessemer, Alabama on whether to unionize that ultimately failed. Today, Amazon is this borough’s largest employer with three fulfillment centers.
Our first question is Do you believe in workplace democracy and that the unionization of workers at the Amazon fulfillment centers here on Staten Island would have a net benefit to the Island?
Audience: 93.3% yes, 6.7% no
Q2: The City Council is on the brink of recognizing a new union for staff workers of city councilmembers - once recognized, the Association of Legislative Employees will be America’s largest legislative staff union.
If your campaign staffers were to unite, would you recognize their right to collectively bargain in a union?
Audience: 95.1% yes, 4.9% no
Q3: A nationwide study published by the ACLU in 2019 stated that “there is no evidence that police in schools improve school safety” and that students with disabilities and Black students were arrested at a rate three times that of white students and students without disabilities. Many scholars and activists argue that school safety agents are a major contributor to the school to prison pipeline. NYC’s 2019 Department of Education records show that Black students were restrained by school safety agents more than any other race in 3 of 4 of Staten Island’s NYPD precincts. Data also shows New York City schools have twice as many school safety agents as they do school counselors. Do you support reallocating Department of Education school safety agent funding for counseling services for students?
Audience: 93.3% yes, 6.7% no
Q4: When Bayley Seton Hospital closed, North Shore residents lost access to a medical hub. The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the need for medical services, especially for Black and Latinx Staten Islanders who have been reported to have higher mortality rates from the virus. Private hospitals like Richmond University Medical Center are overwhelmed; the hospital’s emergency room was built to serve around 25,000 people but has 60,000 to 65,000 patients annually. Staten Island is currently the only borough without a public hospital. Will you support a public hospital on the Island?
Audience: 97.7% yes, and 2.3% no
SG (01:16:12) : Thanks for indulging us on that so for this final section we go to our audience for what they'd like to ask my Plea team members have been collecting questions submitted by our audience throughout the forum we've also in the lead up to the event this evening done some social media campaigns where we've encouraged community members to submit questions to us in advance so similar to our first section each candidate will have an opportunity to respond but in this section we'll we'll ask that um candidates limit themselves to about a minute and our and our producer will keep us honest I'll go to so our first question is on Staten Island there are over 10 theater companies yet there exists no affordable venues for smaller presentations for smaller audiences than the St. George theater CSI or snug can accommodate given that New York City is virtually the theater capital of the united states why aren't there more performance venues in the borough how would you address this on Staten Island and we will start with John McBeth
JM (01:17:54) Listen, the arts are vitally important to the well-being of the citizenry, of everybody who lives here on Staten Island, and it's vitally important that we continue to fund the arts as much as humanly possible through city programs and grants and things of that nature. Snug Harbor is building an expansion to their theater which is going to be a boon, and there are other spaces in Snug Harbor that should be easily convertible to open theater space or usable theater space. That said we would encourage the arts to expand as much as they would want to as much as they could provide capacity for, and we would also encourage some of those high-end venues to offer space at a discount to those smaller theater companies and give them an opportunity for some of the off time to provide theater. Not to mention with all of the versatile uses coming to the Ballpark, I could easily see putting up a band shell, a theater stage, and having that be a venue as well for a reuse or repurposing of the park.
SG: Thank you John we'll hand it to Troy to respond next
TM (01:19:09): So the arts and culturals are close to my heart. And I'll tell you why; my son is an actor and I've throughout his career, be it middle school high school college. He went to NYU for performing arts. I’ve sat in those seats and been in the small theaters and wondered why there were better venues. So here's my plan, and my platform calls for the North Shore of Staten Island to have a sports and entertainment complex right on our waterfront. So where they were going to put up that wheel, that may never go up, we could have sports venues soccer fields, football fields, an indoor pool that New York City has been promising us for years, can go right on that location, along with a state-of-the-art theater that all of our theater companies in the wings. Harbor lights had to close down because they were not getting enough following. There were no venues that they could rent out to put on performances. We could have a city owned city finance, and get partners to come in and have that right on our waterfront make our waterfront a destination so that now people are coming there and spending money because, guess what, when you come to a performance you go out to dinner and we could now put a a our revenue into our economy in the North Shore right down by the waterfront.
SG: Thank you Troy, Ranti we invite you to respond next
RO (01:20:57): I think this goes with everything that I've been saying in terms of how we reimagine leadership and how we reimagine education, how we reimagine this infrastructure to provide these spaces for arts initiatives and arts programs. We also need to make sure that we're eliciting community voice. We're talking about not enough spaces in our community, so I don't just think providing one state-of-the-art art center is gonna actually be the end-all. We need to be creative on how we do this; we need to look at non-profit organizations like Central Family Life Center that has a stage. How can we actually incentivize them and actually give them more resources so they can actually build a theater program? How can you work with nonprofits like the JCC that has a big stage at the Gerard Carter Center, things that are already there that we can actually now reimagine? Through the pandemic we see that we can actually bend and use these resources to actually outfit things that are already there. We need to make it more accessible. Just having one big state-of-the-art [place] at the ferry is not going to make it more accessible for community members. I was actually talking to one of my community members who is an artist, in terms of space spaces he said it should be the government that's actually incentivizing these businesses to support these art spaces, so we need to get the community involved but we also need to think about (time cut-off).
SG: Thank you Ranti, Kelvin we invite you to respond next
KR (01:22:38): Yes, I do agree with my colleagues: I think art and culture are very important. I think we need to support and expand arts on the North Shore. We have to actually provide the resources to our young people during college and in high school. We have to encourage them to actually participate, but again, you talk about spaces- I do agree you have something near the ferry and that's just one location. Like Ranti was saying, we need to actually re-imagine how we use all the spaces that are already there to actually improve and make use of them because in certain communities our young people are not exposed to performances, music culture, and so forth. Once we support these organizations that actually promote art and culture we will actually expand on the art and the culture on the North Shore and it's something that I'm looking forward to once I'm privileged to be your next city council person.
SG: Thank you Kelvin, Michael invite you - I'm sorry Aidan forgive me
AR (01:23:59): It’s all right. Thank you. Well I was just gonna say on top of what everyone else said, which is already great, we definitely need to, I'm on board with using what we already have which means the St George theater. which is an amazing historical site, which is utilized for a lot. And you mentioned that this is really almost sort of like an entertainment capital of the nation and it's great that we have Manhattan just a boat ride away, and I believe that with the City Council having such close ties to the public school system we could possibly add additional funding to public school arts programs, which would mean elementary school, middle school, high school, but most importantly high school because it's a huge outlet for kids. For a lot of people it's a reason to go to school, and not just that, but for people that are concerned about money it could possibly lead to a great career which is like a booming industry in New York City. Whether it be in the arts, on stage, which is what we're discussing, but in the arts with any sort of physical medium and any other type of art really. So I would just--
SG: Thank you Aidan, Michael.
MS (01:25:20): Thanks to the Sue family for this question. She might be the only one that knows on this group that I married into the von Trapp family. When I first got married my in-laws had a Neverland theater company which had many different homes, but what a lot of people don't realize is that running a theater company is very expensive, and there is almost no profit in it, so it is very difficult, and so I would encourage that we don't keep building more theater companies, but we make them sustainable and profitable. They so that they can keep doing what they're doing and they’re doing it well. We have many venues that are-- I'm not going to say anything more. We have many venues that exist. I've been to all of them. Some of them are very small black boxes. Some of them are huge like the St. George Theater and everything in between, so we have to encourage adaptive reuse. I will also say that it is an incredible pathway to careers 15% of the New York City economy is derived from our theater sector, so it is a great place for folks to get a taste of stagecraft, theater craft, building things, acting, and all those things, and the best place to do it in the United States is Wagner College. Their theater program is the number one theater program in the country, not just because of the teachers there but because of the proximity to Broadway.
SG: Thank you Michael, Amoy we invite you
AB (01:26:36): Thank you so this is also something that's very close to my heart because I learned how to play the cello at IS 27 and continued as a student in Curtis high school and had these amazing experiences playing at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center that I could have never imagined so our music programs and our art education programs in our schools are extremely important and keeping those funded but also making sure once again utilizing the resources that we already have and making sure that all our schools our community schools also make them more accessible to the community to these different arts institutions also using spaces like the amazing Alice Austen house which I'm a proud board member of and using all those different art spaces also one of my biggest things and i it's a pet peeve of mine and I'm just gonna throw it out there I look at empire outlets and i think to myself how wonderful it would have been if we had some space there that was just for the community a public use space that amazing beautiful waterfront that is our waterfront that property is built on public property and anything that is built on public property we should make sure that it's used for public use and that there should be accessible space open public space there that people can utilize
SG: Thank you Amoy we'll hand it to Selina next
SGr (01:28:02): I'm not gonna go into how great of a saxophone player I am but but the public spaces are very important when it comes to artists you know the artists have been really struggling due to the pandemic they haven't been able to make money our storefronts have been closed because businesses have gone out of you know have not been able to rent so we have to kind of marry those two together not just our businesses, our community-based community-based organizations but our storefronts as well and bring the artist in not just and give incentivize the businesses to actually open those spaces up to our artists so they can get those spaces at a discount be it a tax cut or however it works out how the city government can work it out but we can negotiate that as elected officials to make those spaces affordable to our artists because right now they don't have the money to pay for those spaces we need to make it affordable to them and we can create that avenue where it is affordable for them and also a cohesive open space which we don't really have right now so we need to make sure that all of our open spaces are open to all of our local artists.
SG: Thank you thank you Selina it's getting into the evening so it's okay if we make a mistake. our next question from our audience with recreational cannabis now legalized in New York what are the candidates plans to help people get out of jail and have non-violent possession charges dismissed and would you support a dispensary in the 49th district we will start with Troy McGhie.
TM (01:29:50): So that's a great question. I absolutely would support expunging prior arrests for cannabis and I don't think that one dispensary in the 49th District. I think there should be multiple and my reason for saying that is because this industry, I think in New York City, the 49th District communities of of color should get in on the ground floor and I think that we should be able to benefit from something that has historically kept us down and has been a bone in our black and brown members existence. So I agree I would promote it. I think that it would be a great revenue source for the 49th District.
SG: Thank you Troy we'll hand it to Ranti to respond next
RO (01:30:57): Yes I definitely agree with not only recreational use of marijuana, I do agree with it's medicinal purposes. And we do know that this has been one of the ways that communities of color have been targeted. They've been targeted, they've [the police] used the laws against marijuana to target our communities. Actually the NYPD have invested over a million dollars in locking up communities of color, targeting drug addiction and specifically marijuana as a way to actually lock up communities. The communities that have been affected the worst should benefit the most, so we need to incentivize black-owned businesses; we need to help them, we need to train them, and give them the incentives to open up storefronts. And definitely not just one dispensary, but communities of color should be able to use this as a way to transition from their pain, from what we know over policing has done, but now use this as a way to reinvest into the community, use this as a way in terms of comprehensive health, use this as a way for holistic approaches to mental health and and drug addiction. There's other ways that we need to think about our community, and this is actually the beginning of how we turn, and then we can also use the funding from the dispensaries to actually, like I said, go back into our communities in terms of education, job readiness, and healthcare. There's so many themes and benefits.
SG: Thank you Ranti, I'm handing to Kelvin next
KR (01:32:31): Yeah, this issue is very important. I think we need more dispensaries on the North Shore, but listen, marijuana possession has been one of the tools that the NYPD uses to stop my clients - that's what they established probable cause with. They say well I smell marijuana in your car - that smell leads them to find something in the car; that smell makes them actually charge you with resisting arrest; that smell of marijuana makes them search you. When they find something else it goes up and then you get arrested, you lose your housing, you lose your job, you lose your relationship. Actually it's been sad for our people but I need folks to understand that it's going to be automatic - once you've been charged with possession of one pound of marijuana or selling 20 grams of marijuana, it's automatic- your record will be esponge. Once it's above that threshold- once it’s above one pound or 25 grams - contact me, contact Legal Aid, contact an attorney and it's something we're gonna work on. By law it shouldn't be on your record. When you look for a new job it shouldn't say you've been convicted of marijuana but it's something we have to work for.
SG: Thank you Kelvin, Aidan
AR(01:33:44): Hi. Sorry, so I definitely agree with the move to expunge records that have non-violent drug offenses in general, especially for marijuana related offenses and crimes, and I believe that the NYPD is making already making that move. So I’m glad they are, and it means also making sure that in the future no one is stopped, no one is hasseled or harassed for such a thing as the odor or strong odor of weed. And I definitely agree that we should have at least one dispensary here. If not New York City, ran one private business, and like others have said the communities that have been victimized the most related to marijuana should benefit the most. So I definitely agree with moves that have been made to support minority-owned businesses. Having the most small business support from New York State and New York City as far as the City Council could do for that, and Ii know that I've looked into this. There's at least a year probably until we'll see a private dispensary. We have time to do this. We could set this up far in advance, and that's really it. Thank you
SG: Thank you Aidan, Michael go ahead.
MS (01:35:04): I'm a big fan of this legalization of marijuana, first because as everyone has said it has targeted Black and Brown communities exponentially more than anyone else. I am supportive of expunging arrest records, yes dispensaries all across the island not just the north shore, and in the state law it requires that folks in Black and Brown communities get first dibs at setting up those dispensaries, so this next council member and their office is going to be critical in working with the state and our city folks to make sure that Staten Island gets them the most that we can in terms of those new small businesses, And I'll take it one step further, I think those taxes that will come from the legalization of Cannabis should support three things-- one the reintegration of folks who have served time back into our society, job training, houses, housing, etc., two drug treatment, and three CUNY-- it should go to supporting free CUNY, go back to what it was when my parents went to CUNY-- free and you're unfettered from student loans, and it will will benefit Black and Brown communities who will be able to access free education from Pre-K to senior year of college.
SG: Thank you Michael, Amoy
AB (01:36:22): so yes i want to make sure that my office is accessible as possible and constituent services is the foundation of any elected official's office and so making sure that constituents understand how to access the resources the services or how to expunge their record or access organizations that could assist them that is always a priority but also making sure that my office knows how to connect individuals to how to get access to those dispensary license license license and also the processing license because when you're talking we're talking about the legalization of marijuana there's the dispensary part and there's the processing part and when we're thinking about the future of the marijuana industry we want to make sure that once again communities that have consistently consistently been disenfranchised by the criminalization of marijuana gets first dibs and also making sure that we're creating the financing for those supports because right now the amount of money that it costs to actually get a dispensary license is exponential and the only people have access to them or people have access to capital so how are we making sure that we give minorities disenfranchised communities access to capital to be able to access the dispensary licensing and the processing licenses so that we don't consistently fall into another situation where the those who have are getting access to the future of of of marijuana so in my opinion yes yes yes all the way to legalization and making sure that my constituents reap the benefits of it
SG: Thank you Selina hand it to you
SGr (01:38:02): so when we're talking about expunging records I am I would advocate for that but i also want to mention that our d.a has not dismissed misdemeanors yet you know those misdemeanor records have not been dismissed so we also need to address that and when it comes to actual dispensary i am in support and advocate for that because I believe that marijuana could be used for so many other things that can replace that can deal with with a lot of the mental issues that a lot of our young black and brown communities suffer right now so i for the medicinal use for the recreational use and yes i do advocate for actually expunging those records but you know it has to we have to work with our legal team and that would be our DA who hasn't even dismissed the misdemeanors violations yet he's the only DA that hasn't done that so yes i advocate for expansion and more and dispensaries here in in Staten Island yes i do
SG: Thank you Selina, John if you close us out
JM (01:39:05): sure more than a year ago long before people started thinking about this the advantage to the series of stories on marijuana and the legalization and as well as what would come of it and before i answer the question on whether or not it should be legalized the first thing i made sure to make sure would happen is that people's records would be expunged so that that was again part more than a year before people started even thinking about a lot of these things with regard to dispensaries i agree with all my colleagues we definitely should have making sure that those who are affected the worst people know that the usage rates are the same across different races whites blacks used at the same level but unfortunately what has proven true is that blacks have suffered more at the hands of enforcement and so i certainly agree that we should also benefit more coming out of this horrible situation that we've created for ourselves effectively thank you
SG: Thank you John so our next question from our audience i will also drop it in chat here. Can you talk about your specific approach to public capital projects on the North Shore? and we will start with Ranti on this question
RO (01:40:34): I think that that's really important. I think for community members, they don't have access to the ULURP process and we need to make the process more accessible. When we think about our historic waterfront and when we think about building on public land, it's only a few people that make these decisions. And we need to work with developers and community members that are together, and we only need to work with developers that prioritize the needs of the community first: so working with developers that say, “you know what? Fifty percent of all of the buildings that are built in terms of housing are going to be prioritized for community members that live there,” using media metrics, not federal benchmarks. That's how you actually do that, you make the process more accessible. How do we start to make the process more accessible? We use the community centers, we use Zoom, we use our PTA meetings to make sure that we can elicit community voice. Because when these capital projects happen, what happens is we get community members’ agreement for healthcare infrastructure and then we get a mall instead. When community members are not involved in this process we get a BJ's built on wetlands. We need more sustainable infrastructure, we need to think about how we can make our planet more sustainable for our community members.
SG: Thank you Ranti, I'm going to hand it to Kelvin next
KR (01:42:13): Yeah, thank you. Listen, when it comes to developers coming to the North Shore I'm going to have three priorities: first we need to have the community involved- we cannot have people build here projects that don’t have the community at heart; also when they're building I'm going to hold them reliable to have real affordable housing. I have a five point plan: first, I want the AGR? to actually be representative of Staten Island, of the North Shore; second, I want to also create spaces for our homeless folks, to secure permanent housing and have a wraparound service for mental health and substance abuse issues; third, I want to increase funding for our NYCHA buildings to help with repairs; fourth, I want the DA to prosecute landlords that actually harass their attendants; and lastly, I want to expand the right to counsel for tenants who are in housing court - especially after COVID. Once COVID is over you're going to see evictions skyrocketing and I need people to have attorneys once they go to housing court. Also I want the developers to have union jobs - whatever contract I'm going to agree to it has to be union friendly and that's going to be my approach.
SG: Thank you Kelvin, Aidan hand it to you.
AR (01:43:41): Hi, thank you, so when we talk about public capital projects it's important to also note that most public capital projects are infrastructure projects. So that includes public transportation, roads, buildings, buildings that could be a public hospital, roads that are in desperate need of repair, public transportation, which means not just what we have but projects for what we can do. Things like whether that be North Shore rapid transit, something like a North Shore railway or working with state and federal level local representatives. Working with them to fight for things like other ferry alternatives or maybe a new bike path across the Verrazano Bridge, which a lot of people have been advocating for. Things like that, and it also means involving the community and seeing what they want that way you always have an ear to the people and listen to what they want and informing people of things like discretionary funds and how they could contribute to the conversation and let you know what they want because that's most important of course. Thank you.
SG: Thank you Aidan, Michael.
MS (01:44:53): Hey Sean before you mute us all can you play the music like they do in the Oscars, just letting us know we have our 10 seconds. So Aidan has made a really good point that the public projects that we're talking about like Empire Outlets and the wheel and River North are not public projects, they're private projects. For me I'll just say quickly public benefits always built first before any pilings go on the ground. They must do their infrastructure projects first before any pilings go on the ground, before they even come to my council office they better talk to the community. When I was in the Bloomberg administration, they lobbied heavily to raise the thresholds on the Wicks Law, which then allowed the city to bypass the requirements to hire union labor. I would advocate for lowering the threshold and banning the bifurcation and trifurcation of contracts, so the city must hire union labor when working on public property using taxpayer dollars. Two things-- when I become council member, I will have clear expectations that before these developers even think to come to Staten Island, so they'll never bring a project again that doesn't make sense and that I've requested meetings with the River North folks, and I've yet to hear an answer from them. I think that tells you a lot about who they are.
SG: Thank you Michael we'll hand it to Amoy
AB (01:46:09): so thank you so much i just want to say that when we talk about public projects public property used for public use i cannot stress that over and over again i would like to see us do an assessment of public property and how we can better use public property for public use we have so many pieces of parcels of land across the north shore that are underutilized and we can look at how we can possibly use those open spaces and those opportunities to be better used for the community also just making sure that community members are in the room when decisions are being made at the end of the day i don't i don't want to have an office where backroom deals are made and all these things i want to make sure that community members are in the meetings i want to make sure that community members are a part of the conversation a part of the discussion because any at the end of the day what is an elected official but a representative of the community and so to enfranchise engage and empower the community that is the role of an elected official and that is what i want to do and so making sure that people are a part of that conversation when when public projects are being developed and educating them on how that process is done because a lot of times people don't understand or know how that project is being done over and over again i say this all the time elected officials work for the people that is what they do and they're there to make sure and support support and to push projects that the community wants and that people want so that's that's what i want to do and that's you know those are the and if the public wants it i want to make sure that it happens
SG: Thank you Selina hand it to you
SGr (01:47:43): so I feel that the ULURP process is very important because that is like the beginning of any project here on Staten Island and when it comes to capital projects we need to actually look to look and see what the environmental impact is not just environmental impact the social impact are we gentrifying a community those things need to be put in place and that should start at the beginning and right now that doesn't happen in all projects community input is very important because we have to see what the community wants you have half of a community that doesn't want these Liberty Towers but we know we don't have affordable housing but we're going to build shelters where is the sense in that there has to be a happy medium here but the community does need to have the input and so it's my commitment i'll advocate to make sure that the ULURP process and environmental study does include do we have an infrastructure in place to support those projects and what's the enviro with the real environmental impact are we harming the community and ensuring that people are at the table when those conversations happen
SG: Thank you Selina we'll hand it to John McBeth
JM (01:48:55): Yes, definitely with regard to public projects we definitely want the community on board first. What is somewhat unfortunate is that there have been opportunities in the past for some of these projects for the community to be involved and i look out across the community board meetings, whether it's the one that i chair in Port Richmond/Mariners Harbor or the main community board meeting and the only the most interested who are against the project are the most boisterous. The best community action or reaction to a project I've ever seen was mount manresa. They did a great job of putting on sufficient pressure that really turned around that whole project. So definitely have the community on board first, and I agree with Mike Schnall in reference to making sure that infrastructure is done, before a single piling goes into the ground, before anything changes within any type of public project to make sure that it has sufficient infrastructure support. Thank you.
SG: Thank you John, Troy if he closes out
TM (01:50:04): Sure, thank you. I agree with a lot of my colleagues on the call tonight and this comes down to three very simple things for me. First, common sense development. It's got to make sense for us to move forward with a project. Second, and I want to make this perfectly clear, not a shovel goes in the ground until infrastructure is addressed and we've learned that lesson. Look at Empire Outlets. Anybody drive on Richmond Terrace lately? Those streets were supposed to be part of that whole thing taking place, but the streets haven't been worked on because, guess what, the wheel never happened and now the owners of the Empire Outlet don't want to flick the bill for the road to be repaved. All of that needs to be done before a shovel goes in the ground and lastly we got to make sure that our community gets the amenities that they need when we have projects like this, be it a school, be it a community center, be it a area in buildings that go up that have supermarkets in it, and and places for people to go shopping.
So we need to make sure that these things are included in deals and that developers can't back out and say oh we don't have enough funding for that to happen so that needs to be done up front and I will do that up front when I'm a City Council Member.
SG (01:51:40: Thank you Troy so our final question Plea for the Fifth recently published an article highlighting the issues CSI has faced as a result of the covet 19 pandemic particularly in terms of affordability and accessibility while some of these issues have have started during the pandemic the enrollment at CSI has been decreasing for some time how would you address the fact that CSI is bleeding Staten Island students specifically and we will start with kelvin
KR (01:52:17): Thank you, I think that's a great question. I graduated from CSI myself in 2008 with a BA in International Relations. I know how hard it is to move around campus- especially for folks that are disabled. I know how our black and brown folks that cannot afford or they're not eligible for financial aid cannot go to school. I worked full time overnight as a home health aid. I worked overnight taking care of a guy who was paralyzed and went to school during the day, so I get it. I understand how most of our students from CSI they're black and brown folks because they cannot afford to go to different institutions, so we have to actually invest and give more resources to CUNY. This is not just a CSI issue, I think it's a bigger issue - it’s CUNY. We have to actually stop the bleeding that is happening with CUNY so it's something that is dear to me because I still stay in contact with CSI, I stay in contact with my professors, and I know the funding that is needed to put CSI back on track so as a city councilperson I will advocate for more funding for CUNY.
SG: Thank you Kelvin, hand it to Aidan
AR (01:53:43): Hi, thank you. Well, like others have mentioned, we definitely need to, however we can do it in any way shape or form, reallocate funding. Raise funding for city universities. They really are the backbone of New York City if you think about it, especially here on Staten Island. CSI is and other city universities are often underrated and under-appreciated and you have to get rid of a lot of the stigma around going to the city university for people. They offer great programs. great education at a low cost. They have Macaulay Honors programs and they're a great resource for the local community so definitely raise funding, reallocate funding, whatever you can do to help them in any way because they need it and they deserve it.
SG: Thank you Aidan and it's Michael.
MS (01:54:38): It's always been my understanding that the most expensive part of a college education is actually the students paying for the capital investment that SUNY and CUNY and every other university has made bringing Starbucks to campus and all these other things that I never had when I went to college, but CUNY I think is suffering from a similar plight they've made great advancements in investments in their campuses, including the St. George campus and you know the building and the campus in Willowbrook.Ii think we need to look at various streams of funding to ultimately make CUNY free which it was once long time ago. We need to have a percentage of the marijuana tax allocated to subsidize CUNY. We need to look at the one percent tax that's being talked about at the city and the state level. Some of that money should be allocated to CUNY, and we need to look at other streams of funding that can help subsidize and ultimately make CUNY more affordable and accessible to all. It was and should be again sort of the poor man's Harvard-- that's what they used to call Brooklyn College back in the 60s and 70s. I think CSI has the potential to be the poor man's, the middle class’s Harvard again, if we can just tamp down those costs, find streams of revenue, and make it accessible.
SG: Thank you Michael, Amoy
AB (01:55:52):so half of the attendees at CSI i believe the article said makes less than 30 000 a year i just want to like that to me is just right there shows how important it is to make sure that our education system and our cuny system is affordable and actually free i agree 100 with mike we should be using the millionaires tax to make sure that it's supporting cuny and making cuny affordable and free making sure that people have accessible and good education is essential to changing the lives of some of our most disenfranchised communities immigrant communities black and brown communities our community system is the foundation of building the middle class and at the end of the day it's the responsibility of our government to make sure that it stays sustained and maintained and i'm going to do whatever i can to support legislation and funding to get our program to get our CUNY system funded and the resources that it that we need because at the end of the day as a CUNY graduate I graduated from Baruch with my Masters and i say this all the time if it wasn't for CUNY i wouldn't have been able to get my master's because i was able to pay for it out of pocket because it was so inexpensive but honestly i would have loved it if it was free
SG: Thank you hand it to Selina
SGr (01:57:14): well CUNY is facing a whole lot of issues the system as a whole they're laying off adjunct professors at an alarming rate. Children our kids on the CUNY campuses are suffering from depression anxiety food insecurities and they don't even have the supportive services needed to kind of be healthy stay on campus learn and do what they need to do so CUNY yes needs to be free but not just that we need to make sure that we keep our adjunct professors in our CUNY system and to attract quality educators to our system right now because that's not happening and the only way we could do that is reallocating funds to ensure that CUNY stays afloat that our children get that our kids get the supportive services they need because they do not kids on these campuses in CUNY that live on these campuses are are suffering right now and we need to also make sure that we find money not just from a wealth tax but the marijuana and allocating funds from wherever we need to and readjusting the budget and i will advocate to ensure that funds do go into CUNY and that we hire really quality educators not laying them off because we cannot balance the budget on the back of our CUNY system nor black and brown people are poor people we need to make sure that people stay employed and our students have a quality education that they can afford which is free
SG: Thank you Selina, John
JM (01:58:40):so really simple short-term services midterm making sure that we're reallocating funds and then long-term is the march towards free college for city university students state university students eventually as well and that's what I intend to do as far as whatever i can do to support and move those things forward in that in that specific order
SG: Thank you John and to Troy
TM (01:59:11): Thank you Sean. One of the benefits of going towards the end of this is that you get to hear what everyone says, but with that is the downfall that a lot of things that I was going to say were already said so I’m going to say I agree with a lot of my colleagues. I agree that the millionaire taxes is a way to make CUNY affordable for everyone. I believe that the marijuana tax on that would be a great revenue stream for CUNY, but with that being said. We also have to realize that people need to take an investment into themselves. So I'm not calling for it to be free but I'm calling for it to be affordable and people need to invest in themselves so that they can feel that sense of accomplishment and a sense of worth that they invested in themselves and better themselves. I have a Master's from CSI in education so I know what that's like and like Amoy I paid for it myself. No one helped me out but I think that if we go through those two revenue streams that would be a great way to make CUNY affordable for our black and brown.
SG: Thank you Troy, Ranti.
RO (02:00:29): I disagree with Troy McGhie. We must return to the tuition-free model that existed up until 1976, when the majority of students became black and brown. So we know implicit bias and racism was why CUNY tuition became where students have to pay. It impeded access for communities of color, so we know that we need to reverse what this effect has done. We know that communities of color are the ones struggling the most to actually access education, so we need to reverse that by ensuring CUNY has enough resources and funding to make it affordable and free for all participants. I know what it's like. I was an adjunct professor at the College of Staten Island for over seven years and my job was to help first-year students navigate their first year experience, because we know that if you help them in their first year, they have a better chance of being successful. But some of my things that I had to address were housing for students, employment for students, resources for students. It took me outside the classroom to actually address the issues community students were facing so they could actually properly focus on education. So we can't just say “affordable”, it's our duty and our job. It's a human right and our students need access to these resources. We do not need lip service anymore, we've got lip service. We need the community to ensure and that's why our CUNY has endorsed me as their candidate, because they know I'm gonna speak truth to power; they know that I know what's going on in these community campuses. And not only do we need a wealth tax, we need to repurpose funding from the NYPD just like I said earlier, because this is actually how we're going to make CUNY affordable: restore it back to 1976, not just because communities of color are now having an opportunity to access an upward mobility we need [time cut-off]
SG (02:02:33): Thank you Ranti so wanna respect our time we're getting towards our rap I'd like to thank our eight candidates for joining us tonight and I want to invite them to each provide closing remarks for our audience you all will have a minute each and we will begin with Aidan Rivera
AR (02:03:08): HI. Could you hear me? Thank you. So thank you all so much for coming. Thank you all for listening and being a part of this and thank you for hosting this. I just like to say I've had a lot of people ask me why you? Why are you running? You don't have decades of public experience. You're young. And I just say personally I feel as though because I see myself as an average person with good intentions and to write that off is to write off much of the North Shore community because a lot of what makes the community function is average people with good intentions. Those are the people that start groups, organizations, they host events, they fill in where city organizations can't and they make it happen. And to me that means personally doing as much as I've been able to do in the past speaking back to being a victim of gun violence and immediately working with the City Council member on initiatives a couple months after that Hurricane Sandy happened I was fortunate enough that I wasn't really affected by it but I immediately gathered as much supplies as I could from myself from my neighbors went to the South Shore and got there before the Red Cross and did what i could to help out with my own hands. And it means then working with ayanza at the U.N. to combat gun violence internationally. Now recently I've become a member of DSA locally, Young Democrats in Richmond County also, and just going to whatever events I can, helping organize things wherever I can go to protests. And just if I could translate those good intentions to policy and legislation that would mean helping average people marginalized groups, groups that have been forgotten: middle-class people and low-income people. So thank you, that's what I hope to do.
SG: Thank you Aidan, Michael
MS (02:05:04): Again, thank you for this forum. I really like the diversity of questions, more so than I think any forum so far, touched on some great topics. Look, I would encourage everyone here and between now and June 22nd, you have an opportunity to look at nine candidates on the ballot, line us up, look at our experiences, look at what we're talking about, what we want to do, how we're going to do it, the relationships that exist. I will say that my 14 years in government, five years in non-profit have prepared me to hit the ground running on day one. I have had experience on all sides of forming the city budget for many years, and I will tell you that getting the fair share of the money that's New York's-- that Staten Island deserves is always an uphill battle and with the the upcoming budget battles that we'll see, the budgets being smaller and smaller each succeeding year because of a decrease in tax revenue, it is going to be very hard for whoever has this seat with our colleagues in the mid-island and South Shore to fight for all we need. We're going to have to make partnerships across the other boroughs and do really hard work, so please make sure you make your decisions. Rank us one to five, get out there, and vote on June 22nd, and I look forward to seeing everybody.
SG: Thank you Michael and onto Amoy
AB (02:06:23): so a healthy democracy has options and so i think it is a statement and a testament to our community that we see so many amazing candidates I like the way Aidan put it we're all well-intentioned community members and i think that's a beautiful thing one of the things that i always like to say is rising tides lift all boats and at the end of the day you know i'm running for office because i truly believe that when you lift up the most in distant franchise in our community you lift up everybody and at the end of the day i want to make sure that people understand that we all pay taxes every single one of us but a lot of times there's been a huge disconnect with how government and those tax paying dollars get back to our community that is the role of your elected officials they work for you they are there to represent you and be your voice and to make sure that we get the services and resources that our tax paying dollars are already funding and all too often we're not seeing those services and those resources come back into our communities and especially the communities that need it which predominantly are black and brown communities which are women which are lgbtq which are people with disabilities and i could go on and on and on again i'm
SG: Thank you Amoy we'll hand it to Selina
SGr (02:07:46): Thank you for having the forum tonight was great. I've been in the community for quite some time doing this work and one of the things that this work has shown me is we can always do better there's so much work that needs to be done and given this pandemic we need someone in office that's going to really hit the ground running that has the knowledge and experience and the expertise and the and the the cause this pandemic has exacerbated a lot of the issues that currently exist and now it's worse when we get to the other side of this we need somebody that's going to hit the ground running and get things done. I have the experience, I have the the the actual the tenacity and the energy to hit the ground running on day one I appreciate all of my colleagues on this call tonight this is not easy we're putting ourselves out there and we just hope that you look at all of us and pick your best candidate one through five thank you so much and everybody have a blessed night
SG: Thank you Selina hand it to John
JM (02:09:10): My name is John McBeth. I'm a third generation Staten Islander and I want to sit in as the next city council person representing all of us. I've worked with all of the people, most of the people, here on this panel. I have a storied history that I don't want you to believe what i say or what my website says but i want you to google search all of us. I want you to search the advanced pages for all of us and see what we've done over the years and what we've actually come to accomplish. I think that level of accomplishment that my record would stand out as one of the people who really made a difference here on Staten Island and really brought forward a lot of the innovation that's going to be absolutely necessary for the next city council person. We have to be fast thinkers. We can't do things the traditional way. things are going to change dramatically and we have to be ready for that. I'm ready for it. My name is John McBeth. I hope to be your next city council person.
SG: Thank you John Troy
TM (02:10:13 ): Thank you, and I want to thank Plea for the Fifth. This was a great forum and you guys should hire yourself out for anybody else wanting to do forums for the rest of this race. But with that being said, I'm a 20-year educator, I'm a mentor, I’'m a high school basketball coach, and I've worked with the current Council Member for the last seven and a half years. I've been in communities, I understand their issues, I see their concerns, and I've been there connecting people and agencies of New York City for the last seven and a half years. I've done the work. I know what it takes, and as your next Council Member I’ll be ready to hit the ground running. I'm going to tell you, there are a lot of qualified people running for this Council seat, and it's about what message people are sending out. I'm telling you right now my message is about unifying the North Shore. My message is about bringing resources to the North Shore and I am going to get it done for everyone on the North Shore.
SG: Thank you Troy, hand it to Ranti
RO (02:11:30): Yes and thank you for this amazing event. This is definitely one of the most, I would say, comprehensive forums, so I thank you guys. But here's what's at stake, guys. We're in a watershed moment in our nation's history in Staten Island. This is the moment and we need to meet that moment by reimagining what leadership looks like. It looks like me, someone who's rooted in the community for over 20 years, someone who's not a pop-up activist who doesn't come from the seat or close to the seat of power. And what I have, and I'm not knocking into my colleagues, a lot of my colleagues come from public offices or work near public offices, so they don't truly have the pulse of the community. I filled the gaps in my community that those offices don't, and I've done that for over 20 years. That's why we get a lot of lip service and not enough action. That's why infrastructure hasn't been addressed; housing, healthcare, these issues still are not being addressed. We're talking about you putting police in a park with people who have mental health issues and drug addiction. So now it's time to reimagine leadership and bring people and a person who's going to speak truth to power, and not just a person who's thinking from a city council seat because they're near the seat, but someone who's been rooted in the community and who's going to fight who's going to fight and never give up and make sure that everyone has a seat at the table for the first time. Because even me, as the director of the Carter Center that's providing all these services, I never felt valued. How much more for community members that need to feel valued and need their voices heard?
SG: Thank you Ranti hand it to Kelvin
KR (02:13:23): Thank you for hosting us. I guess I'm the last to close it up. Listen, I appreciate you guys having us. I agree with my brother John - my colleague John - google us. You're going to see the work we've been doing- not just because we're running for city council. Go google me - you gotta go back to 2013, 2014. Ranti- same thing, he said used to work part of ___. I don't even know what that means, but listen, I'm running for city council because I'm a fighter. You know I've been in criminal court as a public defender now for the past nine years fighting for the voiceless. I don't have to tell you- you know, if you live in certain zip codes, if you’re on the North Shore when you get arrested in criminal court you’re treated differently than when you live on the South Shore. I don't have to tell you - you know this. I'm running because I've been working with limited resources. As a kid I was nine years-old when Ii found myself in a refugee camp in Ghana. My family fled a civil war, I had limited opportunities. I came here after high school with my dad. I live in Park Hill in public housing. I worked overnight and put myself through CSI. Then I got a scholarship and went to law school. I didn't work on Wall Street; I had offers to work on Wall Street - I said no, I will be a public defender and that's what I've been doing. I believe in the North Shore. I believe in our community; I’m a fighter. SI has always been considered the forgotten borough. We have limited resources; I know how to work with limited resources and that's why I'm running. Thank you for hosting us tonight and I hope you rank me number one when you vote on June 22nd.
SG: Thank you all a final thank you to the candidates once again the New York City primary is Tuesday June 22nd I want to especially thank our viewers for tuning in tonight with us and engaging with us and the candidates if you have not yet we encourage you to read Plea for the Fifth dot com sign up for our email newsletter follow us on social media our podcast is on all the major platforms Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google and others and lastly I want to encourage those who can to support our work by becoming a paid monthly subscriber your support allows us to expand our local coverage and pay subscribers receive extra content so once again thank you for joining us this evening and good night to all thank you.