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 Mayor, I will build on my record of working with business sectors with the most potential to add good paying jobs, at a range of skill levels. One example is technology—which includes some jobs that require an advanced degree—but also many jobs in areas like sales, marketing, and distribution.  That's why I created a $3 million Biotech Tax Credit, which has already led to a 14 percent growth of firms citywide.  I also launched the Metropolitan Entrepreneur Testing Service, which provides clean technology entrepreneurs with free space in City facilities.  And I created programs that help train and place New Yorkers in programming jobs with high-tech companies.

Another prime growth sector is advanced and niche manufacturing.  I'll build on the 3,000 manufacturing jobs I helped create at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, by looking at other underutilized properties.  I also created a $10 million Small Manufacturing Investment Fund to renovate and retrofit unused warehouse space for new firms, and built a state-of-the-art kitchen incubator at La Marqueta in East Harlem, which has already helped start 50 new small food manufacturing businesses.

I will build on my record of removing obstacles to business growth and supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs.  I worked with the Mayor to create the New Business Acceleration Team, a pilot program that sped the amount of time it takes for a small restaurant to open its doors by more than two months—1/3 of the total wait time. I ended double taxation for many of the city's smallest business owners through an Unincorporated Business Tax Credit.  I created a penalty relief period to help small businesses with outstanding fines, saving businesses and individuals $33 million in penalties and interest.  And this year, I dramatically expanded the MWBE program, which sets goals for the amount of city contacts that go to minority and women owned businesses, more than tripling the amount of money available to these firms.

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?

In the weeks and months after Sandy devastated our city, I've been in neighborhoods from Far Rockaway to the South Shore of Staten Island, making sure people have access to shelter and emergency supplies, as well as helping to monitor the city's response.  I've heard stories of terrible loss and saw moments of incredible courage and community.  Among the most immediate and important priorities for the next mayor will be rebuilding our city in a smart and strategic way that allows families to move on with their lives as quickly as possible.  I will also use this as an opportunity to create jobs and career opportunities.  Before work begins, I would partner with labor unions and other training organizations, to help young and unemployed New Yorkers gain skills that will qualify them for good jobs that get them on the path to the middle class.

I was among the first elected officials in the nation to outline a plan for rebuilding after Sandy and protecting New York City against future climate change.  My plan includes improvements for our gasoline distribution network and our power, transit, and sewer systems.  I've introduced legislation that would require utility companies to bury power lines underground.  At my request, the NYC Building Resiliency Task Force has convened emergency sessions to look at possible changes to our building code.  And I'm working with Mayor Bloomberg and Senator Schumer to secure several studies that will determine what defenses, such as storm surge barriers, the City should construct.

I'm also proud of my record fighting for local hiring.  I got legislation introduced in Albany that would allow the city to preference both local and MWBE businesses when awarding contracts.  Many of the rezonings we've done have created opportunities for communities to secure local hiring agreements from developers, and as Mayor, I'll make sure our Economic Development Corporation makes local hiring an even bigger focus.

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?

I am proud that I helped pass a law providing sick leave for nearly a million New Yorkers while offering key protections for small businesses. This bill will guarantee that all New Yorkers can take time to care for themselves and their families when they are ill without fear of losing employment. At the same time it provides important safeguards for small businesses and ensures that if the economy begins to move in the wrong direction, the law will not lead to the loss of jobs. Once again we were able to keep an open mind and work together with New Yorkers on both sides of the debate.  The result is the right bill at the right time.  As mayor I will monitor the effects of this bill with an eye toward finding ways to help more New Yorkers find job security and enjoy the benefits of the middle class while helping small businesses flourish.

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

Original Answer (2/2013): I support the goal of paid sick leave, but now is not the time to put additional costs on struggling small businesses, damaging their ability to create jobs. I also believe this policy is better done nationally instead of by individual jurisdictions.

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?

First, I have vocally supported proposals to increase the state minimum wage, and I sponsored a resolution in the City Council in support of the recent State legislation.  Additionally, I’m proud to have a strong record on improving wages for working New Yorkers.  I sponsored the first living wage bill in the history of New York City, working with 1199 SEIU to secure better pay for home care workers.  And last year we passed two additional living wage bills, including one that requires a salary of at least ten dollars per hour for all workers at developments receiving discretionary benefits from the City.  When Mayor Bloomberg opposed these bills, we proudly overrode his vetoes and made them law, and we’re now fighting in court to make sure they get enforced.  I look forward to working hard for the middle class as mayor, and helping to ensure that workers are paid the livable wage they deserve.

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): In addition to supporting state increases to the minimum wage, I'm proud to have a record of action and results on improving wages for working New Yorkers.  I sponsored the first living wage bill in the history of New York City, working with 1199 to secure better pay for home care workers.  And last year we passed two additional living wage bills, including one that requires a salary of at least ten dollars an hour for all workers at developments receiving discretionary benefits from the city.  When Mayor Bloomberg opposed these bills, we proudly overrode his vetoes and made them law, and we're now fighting in court to make sure they get enforced.

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?

As Speaker, I've worked to identify sectors where New York City has a comparative advantage and provide those sectors with targeted support to spark job creation. In addition to tech, two other sectors with great potential are advanced and niche manufacturing and healthcare.

As I mentioned earlier, I'll continue to grow jobs in manufacturing, like the 3,000 I helped create at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the jobs that will be created through my $10 million Small Manufacturing Investment Fund. 

Healthcare is another sector I'll continue to focus on.  It's an area that's ripe for new employment, and recent changes on the state and federal levels will create additional job opportunities. It's predicted that by 2020, New York City will need 7,000 more nurses than we'll have.  Every year, hundreds of qualified applicants get turned away from CUNY nursing schools because we don't have enough nursing professors.  So a few years ago I came up with a common sense solution: I partnered with CUNY on a program that uses some of our city's best nurses as teachers to train dozens of new nurses each year.

We've had similar success preparing New Yorkers for jobs as home care workers. These are good jobs that could start you on the path to a lifelong career in health care.  They require between 40 and 75 hours of training for a certificate, and we don't have enough instructors to meet demand.  So we created a new partnership with 1199 to expand capacity and get hundreds more New Yorkers trained for these jobs.

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?

Discrimination is wrong in all its forms, and we cannot allow New Yorkers who are qualified and ready to work to have the door of opportunity slammed in their faces.  This January I passed a bill that makes it illegal under the city's Human Rights Law for an employer to base a hiring decision on an applicant's unemployment. It also makes it unlawful for employers to post in job advertisements that current employment is a requirement, or that unemployed applicants will not be considered for the position.

This legislation is more important than ever.  New York City's unemployment rate stands at 9.4%, and is even higher in communities of color. Of those who are unemployed, more than half have been looking for work for more than six months, and nearly a third have been searching for more than a year.

I also created a program called New Skills, New Jobs, which helps long term unemployed New Yorkers get on track to a career.  Participants will spend up to eight weeks in a paid training program at a company that has a full time job opening.  Once they complete the program, they are hired on a permanent basis.

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 produced some impressive results in a short time, creating, piloting and evaluating innovative anti-poverty programs, and I would continue to build on it's work as Mayor.  As I mentioned, I would also continue to push for an increase to the minimum wage, and build on successful efforts to require companies receiving City benefits to provide a living wage.

But ultimately, the best weapon against poverty is education.  That's why I recently unveiled a four-part plan to improve our public schools and lower the achievement gap for students.

Number one: identify the most effective parts of our system and use their best practices to lift everybody up and make the whole system stronger.  Number two: make learning something that happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Number three: make everything kids need available through one strategic, coordinated effort—from after-school programs to health care and nutritious meals.  And number four: adopt a 21st Century curriculum that focuses on the whole child.

I'll also build on my work as Speaker, helping more New Yorkers obtain a GED.  There are 1.6 million New Yorkers who are out of school and don't have a diploma; every year less than 2% of them take the GED test.  We've had success with programs, like Bridge to Tomorrow, which identifies some of the nearly 30,000 New Yorkers without a diploma who come into Workforce 1 Centers looking for a job, and connects them with GED prep classes and test slots

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?

Year after year, the NYPD has kept New York the safest big city in America, and I would make sure they continue to have the necessary resources to do so.  As Speaker, I restored funding in the budget to hire an additional 500 police officers, and maintaining and expanding the number of officers on our streets will be a top priority for me as Mayor.  I provided funding to purchase state-of-the-art bulletproof vests for all police officers, and would continue to make sure our officers are safe.

I would also fight to give our District Attorneys the tools they need to prosecute criminals, as I've fought for increased DA funding in past budgets, and as I recently did working with DA Vance to construct a state-of-the-art cybercrime lab.

We also need to recognize that while crime has gone down, many communities still live with the threat of violence.  That's why I created a Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, made of community leaders and public safety experts.   We provided more than $4 million in funds to put their neighborhood-based recommendations into effect.  This includes the creation of a new Shooting Incident Crisis Management system, which will provide immediate support after a shooting, and engage community members in the following days and weeks to reduce and de-escalate future incidents.

As Mayor, I'll combine this community-based approach with Mayor Bloomberg's national lobbying efforts, and continue to give the NYPD the tools they need to get guns off the streets.

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?

As I've said in the past, I believe the present practice of stop and frisk is in need of significant reform and that the current level of stops is unacceptable.  Through my advocacy on this issue, we've already seen some progress.  I worked with Commissioner Kelly to reach an agreement giving the CCRB the power to prosecute its own cases.  And, at my request, the NYPD has taken steps to improve training, monitoring, and protocols around Stop and Frisk, and create an early warning system to identify officers who receive public complaints.  Since the NYPD implemented these reforms, we've seen the number of unnecessary stops go down—but we clearly still have more work to do.  The Council is currently reviewing a number of legislative proposals to further reform stop and frisk, and I'm optimistic that we will find something we can move forward in the weeks ahead. Ultimately the buck stops with the Mayor, and as Mayor I will make it clear at every level of the NYPD that stop, question, and frisk is a tool that must be used responsibly, and that excessive stops will simply not be tolerated.

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?

Improving our schools would be my number one priority as Mayor.  My grandparents, Irish immigrants, worked hard to send my parents to college, to give them greater opportunities.  My mother, a social worker, and my father, a union electrical worker, taught that we could be anything we wanted as long as we did well in school.  That's even more important today, with middle class jobs that pay a middle class salary increasingly demanding high school or college level skills.

My education plan includes creating the most intensive literacy support program in the country: first, we build a strong foundation in pre-K to 3rd grade.  Next, we provide training to all teachers, at every grade level, on how to work literacy skills into their classroom.  Finally, we provide high-quality remedial instruction for students who are falling behind.

I would also extend learning time for students to 6pm five days a week, starting in the 100 schools with the highest percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch. Studies show more learning time leads to greater academic achievement and better attendance, and will better equip our students to compete in the 21st Century.

I'll create a Mentor Teacher program, where every new teacher in our public school system receives a year of intensive hands-on support from one of our city's best teachers.  We'll identify top teachers and offer them the opportunity to leave the classroom temporarily to take on the challenge and responsibility of mentoring our novice teachers.  We'll enroll them in an elite master class run by CUNY, where they share best practices and learn techniques for working with colleagues.   After two years as a Mentor Teacher, they'll return to the classroom, ensuring that we aren't taking our best educators away from students on a permanent basis.

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?

School choice should mean a student gets to choose a school that fits her interests and talents - not that she has to travel halfway across the city to get a decent education.  I have a plan to improve the quality of all of our schools, so every family has a good option right in their neighborhood.

In the last ten years we've collected tons of data on our students.  We've used it to make the system more accountable, to let parents know how a school is performing. What we haven't done as well is look closely at our best schools, and principals, and teachers, and figure out what they're doing right so we can put those same techniques into place at similar schools.

I'm having discussions with several eminent researchers to conduct a System-wide Success Study.  This will be an in-depth analysis of what techniques from our top performing schools have proven most successful. We'll clearly identify best practices, and apply them to schools with similar populations or similar challenges so every school can reach its maximum potential. 

We won't just hand out a list of good ideas and leave schools to do the rest.  We'll work with school leaders to develop a strategy for implementation, help them leverage outside resources, and draw in community partners to make new programs more effective. 

And we'll create a red alert system for struggling schools, looking at early indicators like absentee and graduation rates, and identify them well before they're slated to close.   We'll provide them the support they need to put ideas from our System-wide Success Study into action.  And most importantly, we'll give them time to turn things around, not just wait a year and pull the plug.

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?

In addition to strengthening education through a world-class literacy support system and extended learning time, I would increase community involvement at every level and provide support services for students. 

Just because you have a great teacher, that doesn't mean we've removed all the barriers that can make it harder for you to learn.  You need to be able to see a doctor when you're sick. You need physical activity and healthy meals.  You need tutoring and after-school programs.  The community school model meets these needs so students can thrive.

We've started rolling out community schools in targeted neighborhoods. The Council recently partnered with the DOE and Zone 126 to bring community schools to Western Queens.  As mayor, I would create a new office, Deputy Mayor for Education and Children, to oversee agencies that work directly with children and better coordinate the many services available to kids and their families.

We need to engage parents in the education process so they can foster learning at home and have a say in their children's education.  As mayor, I would institute reforms called Parents Matter, to help parents play an even bigger role.  Decades of research shows that engaging families leads to better attendance, higher grades and test scores, and improved behavior. I'll create an online Parent University in multiple languages, where families can learn about everything from nutrition to study skills, and brush up on different class subjects.  I'll expand a College Readiness Initiative to teach parents of ninth graders what students need to prepare for college and careers, and launch an online tool to simplify the complicated school choice system. 

I'll institute a customer service approach to answering parents questions and listening to their ideas, and hold school and DOE staff accountable for results.

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?

Elite high schools across the country, from Thomas Jefferson in Northern Virginia to Boston Latin in Massachusetts, use multiple criteria when selecting students for admission, and none of them have sacrificed quality in doing so.  It's time for New York City to look at improving our admissions process, to ensure that our top high schools are representative of our city's diversity.

We also need to realize that it isn't just the admissions exam that's limiting diversity in our specialized high schools.  It's a lack of access to rigorous academic programming for our top students in every neighborhood.  The DOE's centralization of gifted and talented programs was intended to increase diversity in these programs.  Unfortunately, the opposite has proven true.  Recent data put our student population at 17% white, 41% Hispanic, 27% black and 15% Asian, but the city’s entry level gifted and talented classes at 48% white, 9% Hispanic, 13% black and 28% Asian.  It shouldn't surprise us that our specialized high schools are skewed—it's that way in top programs at every age.  As Mayor, I will work to increase opportunities for the Gifted and Talented and other critical programs in underserved neighborhoods.

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?

Helping incarcerated New Yorkers get an education is not only the best way to help them get their lives on track.  Over time it will also save the city on future costs of incarceration, and keep us all safer.

Improving these opportunities will take more than just money.  It will require better coordination between the city and the state, DOE and Dept. of Corrections, and numerous other agencies.  It will take intensive literacy support, since on average, high school age students who are incarcerated read at a 5th grade level.  We'll need wraparound services that include mental health care—recognizing that these students face numerous obstacles to learning.  And we also need to remember that an estimated 50% of incarcerated young people are special education students, so we need to provide the appropriate learning opportunities.

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?

1.6 million New Yorkers are out of school and don't have a diploma.  Less than 2% of them are able to take the test each year, and those that do often lack access to tutoring and other test prep they need to pass the exam.  That's why I created a GED web portal, improving access to both prep and testing slots.  I also created the Bridge to Tomorrow Program, which takes some of the 27,000 New Yorkers without diplomas who come into Workforce 1 centers each year and connects them to GED programs.  As Mayor, I would continue to grow these and other programs that help get New Yorkers on the path to better jobs.

Additionally, I am a strong supporter of transfer high schools and Young Adult Borough Centers.  These are small, rigorous high schools designed to help students who have dropped out or who are behind on credits reconnect with the educational process and earn their diploma.  My office was actively involved last spring in the fight to keep Bushwick Community High School open.  I believe that we need more schools that use creative scheduling and individualized instruction to help students achieve their goals.  I would also build on the successful Learning to Work programs, where students have the opportunity to participate in internships, college and career counseling, and job placement.

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?

Helping working families to access safe and affordable housing has been a top priority for me since my first job in New York as a tenant organizer.  And it's a personal issue for me: my grandfather came over on a boat from Ireland and got a job with the FDNY.  The only way he was able to stay in New York City, to save up enough to send my mother to college, was because his apartment, on Isham Avenue in Inwood, was rent-controlled. 

I'm proud that under my leadership, the Council created and saved more than 14,000 affordable apartments through zoning and subsidies, and through those efforts there are tens of thousands more apartments that will be built in the coming years.  I will build on that work, always making sure that affordability is based on incomes and specific needs in the communities where we build.

I would look to create and expand innovative programs like our Housing Asset Renewal Program, where we turned the housing market crash into an opportunity, offering a small subsidy to help complete unfinished buildings in exchange for the owner turning them into affordable housing.

Keeping housing affordable also means keeping conditions safe and livable for tenants.  I'd build on my record of targeting bad landlords with the Safe Housing Law, which has already forced top to bottom repairs at 1,000 of the city's worst buildings.  And it means helping homeowners stay in their homes, like I did when I created the Center for New York City Neighborhoods in response to the subprime mortgage crisis. It's already helped more than 18,000 New Yorkers in danger of foreclosure.

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?

There are currently more than 17,000 families living in homeless shelters in New York City, and without a rental assistance program, most of them have no way to access long term housing. I've proposed that the city create and fund a new voucher program to help families cover rent in private buildings. And I've called for prioritizing homeless New Yorkers for NYCHA apartments and Section 8 vouchers, so we can get even more families into long term stable housing. This isn't just the right thing to do, it's the fiscally responsible thing to do as well. The average cost of a rental subsidy for a family of four is $800 a month. Housing that same family in a shelter costs $3,000.

In addition, I would officially reverse Mayor Bloomberg's decision to make it more difficult for homeless adults to access shelter, a decision that I have been successfully fighting in court as Speaker.  This policy would have needlessly put thousands of homeless New Yorkers on the streets by requiring them to provide proof that they have nowhere else to stay. This is a wrong-headed policy that puts a burden of proof on people who need our help the most.

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?

Having NYCHA use some of its revenue to pay the city for police and other services might have made sense when the City was strapped for resources and NYCHA was better funded.  Now that fiscal reality has changed, and we need to look to end that arrangement.

NYCHA is supposed to be the cornerstone of affordable housing in NYC, helping hundreds of thousands of families on the path to the middle class.  Instead, it has become a disaster of epic proportions, and we need to start with new leadership that has experience in public housing and public finance.

I'm proud that the Council has taken action to improve conditions at NYCHA.  We've provided funding to install cameras and other security equipment at many buildings.  And we created a $10 million initiative where residents get trained and placed in good-paying union jobs, making rapid repairs that once took months or years to complete, often the same day as the initial inspection.  We still have a long way to go, and I would expand on both these efforts.

I would also make major improvements to the management and accountability structure at NYCHA.  I'd create better systems for inventory tracking and asset management, so conditions aren't allowed to deteriorate, and time and money aren't lost searching for materials NYCHA already has in warehouses.  I'd make major improvements to the centralized call center and the Section 8 computer system.

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?

Public health and access to health care has always been a personal issue for me, having lost my mother to breast cancer when I was sixteen.   I was proud to serve as Chair of the Council's Health Committee before being elected Speaker.

My first act as Speaker was to pass Manny's Law in the Council and to help secure passage of a state version of Manny's Law in Albany.  Together, these laws prevent hospitals and community health centers from turning away uninsured New Yorkers.  Medical care must be made available at a sliding scale to lower income families without insurance, and hospitals are required to offer payment plans and notify patients of their options. 

I've provided nearly $3 million to expand primary care services at clinics around the city.  And I passed legislation requiring the city to create a discount prescription card available to any New Yorker.  In its first year saved more than 56,000 New Yorkers a total of $6 million.

As Mayor I would build on this record.  I would instruct all of our city's public hospitals and health clinics to develop clear policies on not reporting immigration status of patients, and clearly communicate those policies in multiple languages to patients and immigrant communities.  I would work to enroll more children our State Children's Health Insurance Program.  I would develop programs to help working and middle class families navigate the coming changes in the federal health care system, and take advantage of new options available to them.  And since our public hospitals and community health clinics are critical health infrastructure for many New Yorkers—especially the uninsured—I would make it a priority to keep that infrastructure strong and well-funded.

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?

My top health priority is to give New Yorkers the options they need to remain in good health and to address the root causes of poor health and disease before they become significant.  Specifically, New Yorkers should have increased access to nutritious food and primary care, and be encouraged to make use of both.  As mayor I will pursue these avenues vigorously.

Regarding increased access to healthy food options, I created the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH), which has already opened and preserved ten grocery stores in underserved neighborhoods through tax and zoning incentives.  I also increased the number of greenmarkets that accept food stamps from 1 to 43, and I brought 500 new fruit and vegetable carts to high-need areas.  I look forward to building on this success as mayor and finding more ways to bring healthy options to New Yorkers in all neighborhoods.

Since 2007, I have directed the City Council to allocate $17 million for the expansion of primary care services at 23 HHC clinics and school-based health clinics throughout the city.  As mayor I will create a primary care financing program, using city funds to leverage private investment with the goal of undergirding the City’s primary care infrastructure.  This will allow people in underserved communities to see a doctor without going to a hospital or emergency room to do so, and will ease the burden on emergency rooms in the process.  I will also create a Citywide Health System Planning Commission, which will include stakeholders from all across the spectrum, to streamline our health process by increasing access to primary care, encouraging hospitals and health centers to work together, and driving investments to help our hospitals and prevent closures.

In addition, I believe smoking is the worst thing a person can do for his or her own health and I will make sure we lead the way in containing smoking as much as possible in New York City.  As Health Chair I was the prime sponsor of the original smoking ban, and as Speaker I passed legislation prohibiting smoking at public parks and beaches and the sale of flavored tobacco products that target children.    

I’ll also continue to provide support for New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS, building on the nearly $50 million in funding I’ve secured as Speaker.  I will build on our work against asthma, like prohibiting the use of dirty heating oil that causes air pollution, and enabling the City to do top-to-bottom repairs in buildings with asthma triggers like mold and vermin.  I will fight to protect women’s access to all health care needs, whether by increasing access to mammograms or building on the law we passed making it illegal to harass women at reproductive health clinics.

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

Original Answer (2/2013): Two of my top priorities as both Health Chair and Speaker have been reducing obesity and smoking rates.  I was the prime sponsor of the original smoking ban, and passed legislation prohibiting smoking at public parks and beaches, and the sale of flavored tobacco products that target children. 

I've championed policies that empower New Yorkers to make healthy choices, like calorie labeling and the trans fat ban.  I've generally opposed proposals that restrict choices or increase costs for working New Yorkers, like the proposed soda tax and the ban on large sugary drinks.  Instead I've focused on increasing the availability of healthy options.

I created Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH), which has already opened and preserved ten grocery stores in underserved neighborhoods through tax and zoning incentives.  I increased the number of greenmarkets accepting food stamps from 1 to 43, and brought 500 new fruit and vegetable carts to high need areas.

As Mayor I'll continue this focus on the root causes of chronic disease.  I'll also continue to provide support for New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS, building on the nearly $50 million in funding I've secured as Speaker.  I would build on our work against asthma, like prohibiting the use of dirty heating oil that causes air pollution, and enabling the city to do top to bottom repairs in buildings with asthma triggers like mold and vermin.  I would fight to protect women's access to all health care needs, whether by increasing access to mammography, or building on the law we passed making it illegal to harass women at reproductive health clinics.  And I would continue to expand access to primary care for all New Yorkers, regardless of income, to improve public health and reduce the burden on emergency rooms and keep more hospitals from shutting their doors.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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