The Unheard Third Vote 2013

Where do the candidates stand?

Explore this voter guide to see how the candidates for mayor compare on issues of concern to low-income New Yorkers — and to the city as a whole. Browse by topic using the tabs below, or click on the numbers to see additional questions. Learn More

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Helping Workers

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1. What are your big ideas for growing the local economy in a way that creates good-paying jobs that offer upward mobility for low-wage workers and expands the middle class?

As of December 2012, 8.8% of New Yorkers were unemployed. Without question, growing the local economy must be the top priority for the next Administration. Our local government is in a prime position to assist in the economic development of our city.  There are conventional tools in government’s hands—common sense proposals like raising the minimum wage to address income inequality and boost family spending power. I am heartened by Governor Cuomo’s recent proposal. But there are so many other levers in New York City that are not fully utilized.  
I would like to focus on several categories that I believe will boost our economy, help workers across all sectors, and offer upward mobility for families.  We must: 

  • Expand and strengthen living wages, 
  • Maximize our opportunities for development,
  • Lessen the burdens we are placing on small businesses, 
  • Invest more smartly with our procurement tools and pension assets, and 
  • Build a workforce of tomorrow through our high school Career and Technical Education programs. 
  • And finally, as a public school parent myself, there is no greater economic engine in our city than our public schools, and improving them must be our top priority.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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2. Post- Sandy, the need for a 21st century power and transportation infrastructure as well as housing and schools that can withstand extreme weather events is clear. How would you invest in upgrading infrastructure in a way that stimulates local hiring? What is your position on a public works program that would create jobs for youth and the unemployed?

Moving forward we must rethink where and how we build our city's infrastructure. Over the last two years we have had two super-storms that have halted our city.  We cannot afford to ignore this trend. I will look to best practices in states like Louisiana and Florida to assess how we should build upon our transportation, power and physical infrastructure within the confines of fiscal responsibility. We must consider all options, including flood protections for our low-lying areas, rebuilding responsibly within these areas and lastly we must be considerate of families who no longer want to live in these flood prone neighborhoods. While we consider what are the best options for New York's low lying communities, as well as the transportation and power systems we must be sure that these investments will stimulate our local economy, including the hiring of New Yorkers.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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3. The City Council overrode a mayoral veto to pass paid sick time. Would you favor expanding this law to provide paid sick days to employees in manufacturing and working for smaller businesses?

Building on the recent paid sick days victory, I will close the exemptions in the recently passed law to ensure that fewer workers are forced to choose between losing needed income or taking care of themselves or a sick child.

Original Question (2/2013): What is your position on a law that would give all employees in workplaces of at least five or more the right to at least five paid sick days a year?

Original Answer (2/2013): Over the last several months, I have urged the Mayor and the City Council to pass the paid sick leave legislation that would allow employees 5 paid sick days.  More than a million New Yorkers do not receive sick days at work, according to research by the Community Service Society and the percentage of workers without paid sick leave is highest for the lowest paid workers.  
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, two-thirds of workers in the lowest-earning groups have no sick leave at all. These are precisely the workers most at risk of losing a job if they miss a day or a shift. Passing basic standards that require employers to provide a reasonable number of paid sick days to workers is a smart response to the times we are living in.  Household incomes and job security have been devastated by the recession. Parents trying to balance work and family are swimming against the tide. The City Council must swiftly pass the paid sick leave legislation.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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4. The New York State minimum wage will be raised in steps to reach $9.00 in 2016. Is that an adequate wage for workers in New York City? Should tipped workers get the same minimum wage as other employees?

New York's income disparity is wider than ever and raising the minimum wage is one policy that will address the widening income gap between New York's lowest income workers and its wealthiest. In addition, raising wage levels for workers will increase spending power for our local economy, which will help families and small businesses. I will fight in Albany to give NYC the ability to set the minimum wage rate at a level appropriate to our city’s high cost of living.

Original Question (2/2013): What is your position on raising the state minimum wage to at least $8.50 an hour and indexing it to rise with inflation?

Original Answer (2/2013): I am strongly supportive; New York's income disparity is wider than ever and raising the minimum wage is one policy that will address the widening income gap between New York's lowest income workers and its wealthiest. In addition, raising wage levels for workers will increase spending power for our local economy which will help families and the business community.  I am pleased with Governor Cuomo's recent proposal which would increase New York State’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.75. We must all support the Governor and urge our State legislators to swiftly pass this bill

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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5. The efforts to make New York City a leader in high tech industries, including bringing Cornell’s new campus to the city, enjoy wide support. What other sectors could capitalize on the city’s comparative advantages while expanding middle-skilled jobs? How would you spur growth in these sectors?

The selection of Cornell University to build a new campus on Roosevelt Island has the potential to transform New York City into a global leader of technological innovation and scientific research.  
I applauded Mayor Bloomberg and the Economic Development Corporation for selecting a New York institution and for their leadership in spearheading this project. I look forward to the day when construction crews break ground, creating new jobs and spurring local innovation. While the Cornell project is currently in the uniform land-use review process, as Mayor I would ensure that EDC utilizes local business and resource centers that expand employment opportunities to  New York City's residents.   As the tech industry expands in New York City, many other sectors will benefit from the expansion, including the constrictions/trade industry as well as the food service industry. City government must continue to support the industries that reside in New York while simultaneously attracting new companies and talent to move to the city.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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6. Do you have a plan for reducing hiring discrimination for the unemployed, and those with credit problems or criminal conviction histories?

I am unequivocally opposed to discriminatory hiring practices and believe that reducing these practices will require a concerted effort with government, employers and employees/interviewers. One of the first steps to reduce discriminatory practices in the hiring process is to ensure that employers know what practices and policies are considered discriminatory. While education is one way we can ensure that employers are aware of these practices, we must press interviewees and employees to inform their government officials of these practices when they believe they have been discriminated against. I applaud Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for his report on discriminatory practices against individuals who are unemployed.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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7. Mayor Bloomberg created the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) to incubate and test initiatives for reducing poverty, which it tracks using a more comprehensive measure than the official poverty rate. With a growing number of New Yorkers—now more than one in five—living in poverty, what would you do to tackle this problem?

The Center for Economic Opportunity has successfully tested demonstration projects that have are aimed at reducing poverty in New York City. I would undoubtedly keep the Center for Economic Opportunity in my administration and encourage expanding the number of projects that the center assesses. Since education is one of the great equalizers in our nation, I would place emphasis on education projects that seek to improve the academic outcomes for all New York City students. While the Young Men's Initiative was a meaningful step by the Administration, I believe we have much more to do to address educational equality in our neighborhoods. I would also like the Center to place additional emphasis on entrepreneurs and small businesses, which by their own growth can assist the city in reducing the rate of families in poverty in New York City. Finally, we must expand and strengthen living wages to help working New Yorkers provide real futures for their families.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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Public Safety

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1. How would you ensure that our city grows safer each year?

For select neighborhoods, New York City's streets have become increasingly safer over the years. For other neighborhoods, that has not been the case, and the tension between communities and police has increased.   
I believe that community policing is the pathway to public safety. Those who say moving towards a greater level of community policing jeopardizes our level of security are presenting a false choice. The choice is not between a large force focused on fighting crime and combating terrorism versus a force focused on fostering cooperation from within the community and respecting the rights and aspirations of every law-abiding New Yorker. There is a third way, and that is where the future of public safety in New York must head. This approach demands the maintenance of a robust police force.  Community policing and is based on the very real truth that connecting police to communities enhances – not inhibits – the NYPD’s ability to fight crime and combat terrorism. It is time for all of us to understand that police effectiveness and community engagement are mutually reinforcing.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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2. What is your position on the stop and frisk policing tactics used in the Bloomberg years?

While stop and frisk is a valid policing tool, its current over-use undermines its effectiveness and creates rifts between communities and police. If we truly want to have a safer city, I believe community engagement is necessary for effective policing practices. While I am heartened to see that there is a decline in stops this year, the Administration needs to focus on the improving the quality of stops and substantially reducing their number.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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Education

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1. What is your top educational priority? What would you do to dramatically improve educational outcomes, particularly for low-income children?

The viability of our society, our economy and our institutions are dependent on a strong public education system in which all students have a chance to reach their individual potential and graduate high school prepared for success in college and careers. For too long, there has been an achieving gap across our race and ethnicities but also our class lines.  
First: our children need to start earlier and learn longer. Last fall, I announced a plan that would provide truly Universal Pre-K to all 4 year olds and provide quality after school programs for all middle school children. As researchers, academics, pediatricians, economists, and public safety officials have long argued, investing in early childhood education is one of the best and most cost effective investments our city can make. Quality early education and afterschool programs are proven to have a long-term impact on a child’s educational and health outcomes and can help narrow the achievement gap for our city’s students. They are also a fiscally smart investment – every dollar directed to these programs saves taxpayers $13 in future costs associated with remedial education, public safety spending, and health care costs. These programs also support working parents across the city, enabling them to be more productive and better support themselves by participating fully in our economy. Cities, states, and countries across the world are now outpacing New York City in investing in early childhood education, and if we are to remain competitive in the 21st century we must take active steps necessary to nurture our human capital and support a lifetime of learning.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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2. Some educators argue that the best way to help poor children is to expand school choice and competition; others favor increasing resources for schools in the neighborhoods where they live. What is your position?

Ultimately, the creation of high quality schools in every neighborhood provides New York City with the best chance of building and sustaining school-family-community partnerships necessary for all children to graduate high school prepared for success in college and careers.   
Over the past 12 years there has been a great emphasis on closing community schools rather than investing in them. Moving forward, we will need to invest in struggling schools so that all students, regardless of neighborhood, have a quality school to attend in their community.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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3. What would you do to substantially boost high school graduation rates and ensure that more graduates are career and college ready?

Our graduation rate is still unacceptably low and students who graduate from high school are far too often unprepared for career or college. This is especially true for our city's black and Latino youth. As previously mentioned, we need to invest in early education and have our students learning longer, especially in the crucial middle school years. The research has shown that students who have attended quality early education programs are more likely to attend and graduate college. In addition to expanding early childhood education and after school we must improve our Career and Technical Education ("CTE") programs so that they are preparing our youth for 21st Century jobs.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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4. How would you expand opportunities for black and Latino students to attend the city’s top selective public high schools and CUNY four-year colleges?

Unquestionably, we need a steadfast approach on how we will ensure that black and Latino youth have equal access to New York City's selective high schools and CUNY's 4-year colleges.   
The recent shift at CUNY colleges with fewer Black and Latino students enrolled is unacceptable and as Mayor, my administration would take on issues of preparation, access and equity in New York City's high schools and higher learning institutions.  
Our approach must include two components: better preparing our city's students for these selective educational programs, and ensuring equal access to these prestigious programs.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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5. What is your position on investing more in education programs for people incarcerated in our jails and prisons?

We must ensure that all formally incarcerated individuals are leaving our prison system with an education and skills that will allow them to transition successfully into society.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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6. In New York City, 180,000 young people, ages 16 to 24 are neither in school nor working. What would you do to provide these “disconnected youth” with a second chance at getting high school equivalency diplomas and jobs?

As Public Advocate, I have worked tirelessly to address education attainment issues for New York City’s disconnected youth. When my office learned about the changes to the test of General Educational Development (GED), it was clear that the Public Advocate’s office needed to play a role in helping young New Yorkers not only learn about the changes, but also finish the exam. Our campaign has successfully helped hundreds of youth who were previously disconnected.

In January 2013, my office and the Fund for Public Advocacy along with many community partners launched “The Campaign to Finish.” The goal of this effort was to help New Yorkers who had already started the GED process to finish it before the test changed in January 2014. Since the program’s inception, over 400 disconnected youth have been enrolled in GED programs.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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Affordable Housing

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1. What can be done to increase the supply of housing affordable to workers in the bottom third of wage-earners?

I commend Mayor Bloomberg for the successes of the New Housing Marketplace which preserved and developed over 160,000 units. But put simply, this was not enough. We are losing record rates of affordable housing units every year.   The term "affordable housing" has been too loose a phrase in this Administration, with many of the affordable units going to individuals and families who make upwards of $100,000. We need an affordable housing plan that is tailored to families and takes into consideration New York's low income earners. We need a more aggressive strategy that recognizes the market is not going to deliver the units middle class and working New Yorkers need.   
City government has a couple of tools readily available that we are not fully utilizing that can help develop affordable housing- rezoning process and our pension investments. With every rezoning we have the ability to demand the developer to create affordable housing and we have not taken full advantage of this process. Additionally, currently only about 1% of our city pension investments are going to affordable housing and this is simply not enough. There are tools at our disposal, and as Mayor, preserving and building affordable housing will be one of my top priorities.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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2. What is your position on setting aside a share of public housing admissions and Section 8 vouchers for the homeless? What else can the city do to reduce our historically high numbers of homeless families?

In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg said that he was going to cut homelessness by two-thirds; at that point we had nearly 35,000 individuals in the shelter system. Today, our shelter population is at an all-time high with 48,700 individuals in shelter, including 20,000 children. While imperfect, the now expired Advantage program provided individuals and families with rental subsidies that prevented families from entering the city's shelter system.  
Here is what has happened: the city is spending an exorbitant amount of taxpayers’ dollars on shelters when the money could be diverted to a more effective and cost efficient rental subsidy program. Our first step: we must develop an exit strategy for those who have entered the shelter system.  That effort will require our city to develop a rental subsidy program to replace the Advantage program. For the individuals who face chronic homelessness, our approach must be the "Housing First” model that provides the necessary supports to resolve underlying factors like mental illness and drug  addiction while fostering stability.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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3. One hundred million in federal dollars needed for public housing repairs is now diverted annually from NYCHA’s budget to other city agencies. What is your position on continuing this arrangement? What steps would you take to improve public housing?

Close to half a million New Yorkers live in public housing under the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Under Mayor Bloomberg, NYCHA tenants have been vastly ignored as he ducked responsibility for the problems taking place at the agency. As Mayor, I would take responsibility for the housing authority and prioritize the health and safety repairs that are plaguing NYCHA tenants. Nationally, public housing is deteriorating at a rapid rate. Over the last several years, the federal government has slowly withdrawn their support for urban public housing and the Mayor has not made it his responsibility to fight tooth and nail for the revitalization of public housing. In order to address the needs and the growing costs, we must overhaul the entire agency and reassess how NYCHA interacts with other city agencies, including the NYPD.  With the same intensity as Mayor Bloomberg fights for gun control, I will vigorously fight for the preservation of public housing with other urban jurisdictions.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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Health

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1. Half of the state’s 2.7 million uninsured live in New York City. What role can the mayor play to broaden access to affordable health care coverage?

Over the next year the national debate will shift towards immigration reform and as the debate ensues it is the responsibility of the Mayor and all New York elected officials to ensure that there is coverage for the thousands of families and individuals that are undocumented in New York and elsewhere. In addition to ensuring access for our immigrant families, too many New Yorkers are unsure how the Affordable Care Act will affect them and their business. Just as the city supports substantial efforts for families to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, we must do the same to inform consumers about the Affordable Care Act and how it interacts with their current health care coverage, including Medicaid and Medicare.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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2. What would be your top health priorities? What are your views on the city's strong efforts to help reduce obesity and smoking?

As Mayor, I would continue fighting to keep community hospitals open, as well as create at least 16 new community health clinics in communities of highest need. These steps would help prioritize preventative care and address the health disparities between low-income and wealthy New Yorkers. I would also ensure that schools are getting adequate time for physical education, an area where I think the Mayor has not paid particular attention. City government can improve health outcomes for children if we focus on what they are eating during the school day and if we encourage more physical activity. Finally, I have supported Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to reduce obesity and smoking, including restrictions on the sale of sugary beverages and bans on smoking in public areas. In New York City, obesity is a leading cause of preventable deaths. I support many of the recommendations developed by the Administration’s Obesity Task Force, especially those related to childhood obesity.

Original Question (2/2013): What are your views on the city's strong efforts to help reduce obesity and smoking? What are your top health priorities?

Original Answer (2/2013): I have supported Mayor Bloomberg’s most notable efforts to reduce obesity and smoking, including restrictions on the sale of sugary beverages and bans on smoking in public areas. In New York City obesity is a leading cause of preventable deaths. I support many of the recommendations developed by the Administration’s Obesity Task Force, especially the recommendations related to childhood obesity.  City government can facilitate improved health outcomes for children if we focus on what they are eating during the school day and if are encouraging physical activity.  
As Mayor, I would ensure that schools are getting adequate time for physical education, an area where I think the Mayor has not paid particular attention. In addition, I would prioritize preventative care and addressing the health disparities that exists between low income and wealthy New Yorkers.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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