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?

We must improve educational opportunities, which has been the way to the middle class for many low income people, by increasing the proportion of New Yorkers with a college degree.  It is shameful that four out of five of New York City high school students do not graduate from college.  To improve the chances of our high school students succeeding, we should lower the ratio of students to counselors from the current unmanageable 259:1, to a workable 100:1.  We should also offer free tuition to the top 10% of every public high school to attend CUNY.

We must improve the climate for small businesses by lowering taxes and fines on 90 percent of the city's small businesses.  We can fund these initiatives by eliminating the corporate welfare doled out by the city's Economic Development Corporation and eliminating outdated corporate tax loopholes.

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?

I did this last December by working with President Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative to invest $1 billion from the Teachers Retirement System to restore infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  This will create thousands of jobs, many of which will go to local people, many of whom were adversely affected by Sandy.  I will continue to seek opportunities to create public works which encourages local hiring and will create jobs for youth and the unemployed.

To take advantage of historically low interest rates, I have also proposed a capital acceleration program, which would create 8,000 jobs.  Mayor Bloomberg embraced this idea and accelerated $1 billion in capital projects.

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?

Paid sick leave should be expanded to employees in manufacturing and for smaller businesses. Manufacturing workers, like all other workers, should not have to go to work when they are sick.  In many ways, it is more dangerous for manufacturing workers to work while sick because many work with heavy equipment and the potential of getting hurt is greater if someone operating such equipment is sick.  Paid sick leave should also apply to businesses having five or more employees as it does in many municipalities across the country.

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 have supported a law giving all employees in workplaces of five or more the right to at least five paid sick days a year.  People who work while sick reduce productivity for themselves and others, which is bad for business and affects all of us.

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?

The current minimum wage in New York City is the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, or a full-time salary of about $15,000 a year. This pay is not primarily for teenagers working part-time, but breadwinners supporting a family. Even a minimum wage of $9.00 is not sufficient for a breadwinners living in New York City. New York City should adopt a minimum wage of $11.50 an hour, phased in over five years and then pegged to the Consumer Price Index. This will help single parent families with either one or two children finally climb out of poverty.

I recently called attention to the “Minimum Wage Reimbursement Credit” included in the New York State budget that gives businesses tax credits if they hire young workers, but employers only get the credit if they pay their workers exactly the minimum wage and not a penny more.  Employers would receive a $1.35-per-hour tax credit for each worker between the ages of 16 and 19 earning no more than the minimum wage of $9.00 per hour in 2016. This could jeopardize the jobs and wages of roughly 120,000 New York City workers making between $9.00 and $10.00 per hour, because the state would pay their employers to replace them with workers earning minimum wage.

State lawmakers did their best to craft a minimum-wage hike to $9.00 that would help workers in Rochester and Buffalo, but a tax credit for employers they included as part of that deal may actually harm low-wage New York City workers.  That’s yet another good reason why we need to raise the New York City minimum wage to $11.50 an hour. Not to mention that New York City is just so much more expensive to live in.

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 have proposed raising the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour to help the 'working poor' climb out of poverty.  I would phase this raise in over five years and index it to rise with the Consumer Price Index.

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?

New York City has some of the best hospitals in the world.  We can make the City a leader in medicine where people from all around the country and world can come for top-notch care.

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 believe we should reduce hiring discrimination for the unemployed.  We should also reduce hiring discrimination for those with credit problems or criminal conviction histories, where those past issues are not relevant to the job.

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?

As discussed above, I would make it easier for small businesses to operate in the city and hire more workers, increase the minimum wage and I have also proposed a more progressive tax schedule so the working poor and the middle class can keep more of their income.

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?

I would make sure that we have a top Police Commissioner who will work closely with communities to ensure that crime and other problems are addressed quickly.  I would also work to ensure that there are enough employment opportunities so that people do not have to turn to crime.

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?

I oppose it and have called for its elimination.  While "Stop and Frisk" may have removed some guns and criminals from the streets, it has also created a huge chasm between many communities and the NYPD.  This chasm outweighs any benefit of "Stop and Frisk." The tactic assumes everyone is potentially criminal and therefore distracts the police from focusing their efforts on the true criminal elements in communities who are usually known. 

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?

As discussed, to prepare our children for the current and future job market, we must do a better job of preparing them for college so that they can graduate from college.  Unfortunately, college is not in the plans for many low-income children and even when they get to college, many are not prepared for the rigors of college.  This is where an investment in guidance counselors can help our children to navigate college and help more to graduate.

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?

I favor increasing resources for neighborhood schools as the best way to help poor children.  The current system of using tests to get into "good" schools has just increased the discrepancy between poor and the wealthy.

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 what has been discussed, I believe we need to start helping low-income families early, even before formal schooling begins by providing prenatal care and parental support for up to two years after a child is born.

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?

My idea of providing free tuition to the top 10% of each high school class can be expanded to to high school level to allow the top two graduates from each high school an opportunity to go to a selective high school.

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?

The mission of our prisons has always been to rehabilitate and not punish.  People who have paid their debt to society should be given the opportunity to be productive members of society.  This starts with educational training in prison.

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?

Many times when a young person is not in school and also not working, there is an underlying problem.  I would make sure these underlying problems are addressed.  For instance, I would make sure that teenage parents have access to child care so that they can finish school.

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?

We can stimulate the construction of affordable housing by rezoning some areas to allow developers who provide affordable housing to build higher density buildings.

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?

I would be in favor of setting aside a share of these housing programs to make sure that those without homes can get shelter.

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?

A reason that this money is diverted is because the current leaders at NYCHA have not developed a plan on how to use this much needed repair money.  I would stop this practice by making sure NYCHA has a detailed plan to spend the money on the most needed projects.

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?

The Mayor can make sure that community-based organizations serving these undocumented immigrants have the resources, in different languages, to inform these undocumented immigrants about the public health programs.  The Mayor can also make better use of the ethnic media, where many undocumented immigrants get their information.

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?

A top priority will be to close the health care disparity among minorities and women in New York. Research studies show that having a usual source of health care raises the chance that people receive adequate preventive care and other important health services.  A major stumbling block to having affordable and accessible health care will be lessened with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  It cannot come at a better time when health care expenditures have been growing above the overall rate of inflation.  We already have seen some improvements as recent studies show that health insurance rates will likely go down in New York due to Obamacare.
This is an ironic form of good news for New Yorkers: We won't experience large insurance rate increases next year when Obamacare is fully implemented, but only because we have had very expensive rates for a long time!  And more good news that people who are currently uninsured will receive help to purchase affordable coverage through exchanges.  We need to raise awareness in immigrant communities across New York City and help those who qualify for federal subsidies get help to pay for private insurance coverage.  Hopefully we can begin to close the disparity gap and ensure every New Yorker has the health care they need.

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): I am supportive of the city's efforts to improve the health of its citizens.  My top health priorities will be to help New York City residents practice preventative health care.  Some ideas include making sure that our children get enough physical education in schools and that there are enough public health clinics so that people can address minor health problems before they become serious and require expensive care.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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