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?

To keep New York the center of opportunity in America, we have to create jobs in both the short and long-term. I'll take a three-pronged approach: investing in education in a big way, diversifying the economy, and promoting good wages for all workers.

The root of success is a good education. I will improve our schools by establishing a program of early intervention that sets all of our students, no matter how low-income, on an equal path to success. That is essential to making sure that all high school graduates are prepared for college. We also need to make sure that all students have access to affordable higher education through the CUNY system.

I will use the city's contracting power to make sure taxpayer dollars are generating economic activity and jobs in our neighborhoods. But to create jobs across the economic spectrum, we need to diversify our economy. In all of our efforts, we can establish fair wage standards so that no one who works full-time fears poverty. More on this in Question #5.

In the short term, we have an opportunity to create jobs for local residents and companies in the neighborhoods affected by Hurricane Sandy. From home construction to retrofitting to enhancing our infrastructure, thousands of workers will be needed in the months and years ahead.

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?

The city has had ten years of warnings that a major storm was on its way, and we did not prepare properly to protect our citizens or our infrastructure. As mayor, infrastructure will be one of my top priorities. It is an investment that must be made, because if we do not pay for it now, we know full well that we will pay for it later.

I will make every effort to provide incentives for contractors and city agencies to hire local residents at good wages to rebuild our neighborhoods. I know that we have the brainpower and muscle right here in the city to get the job done. For example, we can work with unions to expand apprenticeship programs in the trades.

I will aggressively seek funding from state and federal agencies and develop public/private partnerships for projects that simply cannot be funded with public money. Protecting our coastlines, restoring natural barriers, retrofitting existing homes and building new ones with climate change in mind are all necessary to protect New York from billions of dollars in new damage from the next storm.

I would consider a public works program to create jobs for unemployed and underemployed 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?

Paid sick leave is essential. No one should be forced to choose between their health and making a living. Paid sick leave also makes sense from an economic and public health perspective. Healthy workers are happier and more productive in the long run. In implementing such a law, however, we have to be careful not to bankrupt mom and pop businesses, many of which are hanging by a thread as the economy recovers and cannot afford to hire more workers to cover missed shifts. That would be catastrophic for neighborhoods and for the workers themselves, who would be out of a job altogether. I think requiring paid sick leave in establishments with 20 or more employees was the right first step.

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): Paid sick leave is essential. No one should be forced to choose between their health and making a living. Paid sick leave also makes sense from an economic and public health perspective. Healthy workers are happier and more productive in the long run. In implementing such a law, however, we have to be careful not to bankrupt mom and pop businesses, many of which are hanging by a thread as the economy recovers and cannot afford to hire more workers to cover missed shifts. That would be catastrophic for neighborhoods and for the workers themselves, who would be out of a job altogether. I think requiring paid sick leave in establishments with 20 or more employees is the most responsible path forward.

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?

One of accomplishments that I am most proud of is authoring one of the nation's first living wage bills, which was passed over the veto of Mayor Giuliani. To date, that bill has impacted 70,000 workers and put $3 billion in their pockets. I am 100% supportive of raising the state minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. It is the right thing to do, plain and simple. No one can survive in this city on $9.00 an hour. I am just sorry that it was not indexed to inflation years ago.

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 100% supportive of raising the state minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. It is the right thing to do, plain and simple. I am just sorry that it was not indexed to inflation years ago.

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?

A diverse economy is critical to keeping New York a center of opportunity and an affordable place to live. We must expand the growing technology and engineering sectors. We need to create space for startups in the city so entrepreneurs can thrive here and hire their neighbors. We need to stop treating small businesses like piggy banks so they can focus on expanding and hiring more workers. And we need to bolster the renewable energy sector so New Yorkers can earn a living while making their city cleaner. We can also expand manufacturing by building our trains, buses, and taxis right here in the five boroughs. Any plan less ambitious would not be sufficient enough to create a foundation for New Yorkers to prosper.

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?

Throughout my career, I have fought against discrimination in hiring. I cast the swing vote on a gay rights bill that banned discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation. I authored one of the nation's first living wage bills, providing protection for workers who were predominantly people of color. I also passed a resolution committing New York City to investing only in companies that did not discriminate against Catholics in Northern Ireland. 

In an Albanese administration, we are going to be very aggressive in making sure people don't discriminate when they hire. This goes straight to my core values. I believe in a just and fair society. Discriminating against the unemployed is outrageous, and we should not stand for it.

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 most effective way to address the systemic poverty affecting New Yorkers is to focus on the roots of the problem: inequality in income and education. I am proud to have passed a living wage bill that helped tens of thousands of low-income workers in New York City. I will continue to fight for fair wages for our residents and will use the city's contracting power to do so. Diversifying our city's economy will be essential to this effort, too.

A cornerstone of my campaign will be revolutionizing the way we look at our public education system. Poverty is the number one predictor of educational outcomes. Thousands of kids walk through the doors of our schools each morning hungry, tired, and distracted by adverse childhood experiences caused by poverty. Parents are struggling to make ends meet. Kids are seeing violence on the street. They aren't getting the enrichment they need. I believe we need to establish pediatric wellness centers to tackle this issue head on. Currently, we have no plan in place to ensure that they start school and progress on an equal footing with their peers. My plan is not a quick fix, but it will lift millions of New Yorkers out of poverty within a generation.

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?

When it comes to public safety, I am the most experienced candidate in this race. I spent 15 years on the City Council's public safety committee. Every year as an elected official, I went on patrol with officers to see the city from their perspective. I was one of the key proponents of a program that hired thousands of police officers and put them on patrol in the early 1990s.

As a candidate, I was the first to roll out a public safety plan. To hold the line on violent crime and terrorism and to address quality-of-life issues that have left many New Yorkers feeling vulnerable, I propose hiring 3,800 sworn personnel to the force: 3,300 additional police officers and 500 additional detectives. My plan would specifically apportion officers to precincts based on the volume and nature of calls answered in each precinct, ensuring new hires go where they are needed most. No precinct in any neighborhood, however, would receive fewer than 25 additional officers. My plan also adds 400 officers to the Transit Bureau and 250 to the Housing bureau.

My approach would also go a long way toward easing any community-police tension. Putting more officers on patrol empowers them to establish a positive, proactive presence and build stronger relationships with community members and leaders.

To me, bolstering public safety is not just an investment in security. Safer cities are more vibrant cities, economically and civically.

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?

We live in the United States of America, and our constitution clearly states that nobody should be subjected to a search without probable cause. The stop and frisk program as it is currently implemented has created a lot of tension between the police and communities. A stop can be very dehumanizing, so we have to make sure innocent people are not subjected to it unnecessarily. That's why we need to focus on carrying out quality stops, not meeting quotas. 

When there is probable cause, stop and frisk is legal. It is a valuable tool that effectively deters gun violence. My approach is threefold:

  • First, I would implement an academy training program that drills new recruits on what constitutes a legal stop.
  •  Second, I would establish a continuous training program for current officers and test them on the nature of constitutional stops.
  • Third, I would expand the number of officers on patrol in neighborhoods and public housing. When community members know the cops on patrol and vice-versa, it builds trust and it provides good information for law enforcement. People are much more comfortable when they know the officers in their community. That trust is essential.

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?

I was a New York City public school teacher and am a product of the public school system. The foundation of my educational policy will be early intervention. We now know that there is a strong correlation between poverty and learning difficulty. The first three years of a child's life are pivotal in developing cognitive abilities that are essential to learning. Thousands of kids who walk through the doors of our school each morning are hungry, tired, and distracted. This is not because they can't learn—every child can—but because of adverse childhood experiences brought on by poverty and stress. There is compelling evidence from neurologists and psychologists that these experiences impact brain development.

I plan to address this by establishing pediatric wellness centers throughout the city. Staffed by multidisciplinary teams of teachers, doctors, psychologists, and other professionals, these centers would support parents who feel they need a little extra help putting their kids on a track to success. It will have a huge impact on educational outcomes for an entire generation of New Yorkers.

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?

As a former public school teacher, I understand the way the system works from the ground up. I am not opposed to competition. It provides an opportunity for experimentation, but it is no replacement for strong public schools in each neighborhood. If we want students in every community to excel, we need to recruit and train teachers who excel. We need to provide current teachers the support and resources they need to do their job well. And we need to keep class sizes down so that students get the attention they deserve. That will take a lot of work, but it is an investment that must be made now, or we will pay for it tenfold when another generation of New Yorkers graduates unready for college or the workplace.

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?

As a former high school teacher, I worked closely with students who struggled with learning disabilities or behavioral issues. My early intervention program and teacher mentoring mentioned in Question #10 will be crucial to preparing our students for high school and college. By the time many of our students enter high school, they have become overwhelmed and are referred to costly special education programs or, unfortunately, getting into trouble with the criminal justice system. Early intervention and world-class teachers are key to preventing that.

We need to strengthen our curriculum so our high school graduates have the skills to enter a 21st century university or workplace. This means an increased emphasis on math, science, coding, and computer and digital literacy.

We also need to re-establish sports, art and music programs. As a student, qualifying for the baseball team motivated me to do well in class. When we cut programs that help create a well-rounded individual, we are also removing footholds for students who may not initially be stimulated by academic subjects.

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?

We know that there is no intelligence gap between New York City's communities, but there is an opportunity gap. As a teacher, most of my students were black or Latino. The early intervention program that I mentioned in Question #10 will be critical in ensuring minority students are as prepared as their peers for the tests and exams required for admission to selective high schools in the city. But tests should not be the only criteria we consider. I am a strong believer in public education as the great socializer. When students from diverse backgrounds and income levels learn to study together and work together, society as a whole benefits. To that end, I will examine the admission criteria for these schools to ensure we are not denying those admitted or denied the opportunity to experience diversity in the classroom.

The CUNY system has been a critical rung on the ladder from working to middle class for millions of New Yorkers. I graduated from CUNY-York College myself. But CUNY is not as affordable as it once was. In the long-term, we cannot afford to price good students out of the CUNY system. That would be disastrous for our neighborhoods and for the quality and diversity of CUNY schools. I will use my bully pulpit as mayor to push for a comprehensive, state, local, and national approach to addressing rising student debt in New York City and across the country.

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?

I am a firm believer that everyone can learn, succeed, and give back to their communities, including those that have been incarcerated. Public and privately-funded programs for educating the prison population, including some supported by nonprofits, have had positive impacts and reduced recidivism. While, unfortunately, we may not be able to afford an increase in funding for these programs, I will encourage private and nonprofit support.

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 a high school student in New York City, I could very easily have become one of these 180,000 disconnected youth. I was not enamored with academic subjects. The only thing that kept me from dropping out were the athletic programs at John Jay High School. By re-investing in athletic and arts programs in our schools, as mentioned in Question #12, we could prevent a huge number of these students from becoming disconnected in the first place. Once a student is hooked on a program that attracts them, developing an interest in academics and employment is much more manageable. In addition, my early intervention program would prevent many of these students from falling through the holes in our public school system.

For those students who have already dropped out, it is crucial that we provide access to GED programs, mentorship, and job training that reward hard work and do not stigmatize those who took longer then usual to "get on track."

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?

Economic diversity is essential to New York City. Without affordable housing, we risk becoming a city with little opportunity for upward mobility. So, we need to do whatever we can to build affordable housing at a greater rate than has been done under Mayor Bloomberg.

We need to work with developers to ensure that every new development includes affordable housing. That will require going beyond the current 20%/80% ratio, which is simply not providing enough units to meet demand. We must also hold developers accountable. For example, a proposal in Queens would allow its developer to delay the construction of affordable housing for more than a decade. When a project displaces residents in 2015, it is unacceptable to expect the neighborhood to wait a decade before similarly-priced housing is available again.

Lastly, we should work with nongovernmental groups like IAF, which has built thousands of homes on city-owned land for working class families. This remains a creative and efficient approach to expanding affordable housing, if we have a Mayor willing to engage and prioritize the effort.

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 is no quick fix for reducing homelessness. The best approach in the long-term is to build a fairer society. By expanding access to better schools, health care, housing, and jobs, we can prevent thousands of New Yorkers from entering the vicious cycle that leads to homelessness. A high number of New York's homeless suffer from mental illness or addiction. Unfortunately, we have eroded our treatment options for them. I have family members that have suffered from mental illness, so I understand first hand how devastating that approach is. As mayor, I commit to reinvesting in mental health services and advocating to reform our drug laws so that addicts can seek proper treatment without shame or stigmatization.

I am open to setting aside a share of public housing admissions for the homeless, though doing so would require support from the vibrant communities already living in public housing facilities. As mayor, I would consult with our congressional and state delegations to ensure that federal funding for Section 8 is increased. Its reduction over recent years has been one of the causes of our increased homelessness.

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?

I am opposed to continuing an arrangement that starves NYCHA of the funding it needs. NYCHA was underfunded before funds began being diverted. The result has been a huge backlog of more than 400,000 repairs, a lack of preparation for major storms like Hurricane Sandy, and a rise in crime in some facilities. I would work hard to obtain proper funding for NYCHA. I would also appoint as my NYCHA Commissioner an individual with genuine experience with housing and community consultation.

Better management is important to improving NYCHA, but increased resources are absolutely essential. To that end, I would vigorously pursue federal funding, working with our congressional delegation to ensure that Washington understands how important it is to provide quality public housing for thousands of Americans who need it.

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?

I immigrated to America at the age of eight years old. My father, who was disabled and spoke little English, struggled for a long time until we were able to find an Italian-speaking doctor. So this issue is close to my heart.

I will make every effort to ensure that our healthcare institutions are adequately staffed with people who are sensitive to cultural milieu of the communities they serve. That includes having staff capable of speaking the languages of the vast majority of patients who walk through the door. We have that in our court system, and we should have it in our healthcare system.

I would also use my influence as mayor to advocate aggressively for Congress and the President to pass the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, which would provide undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. It makes basic economic and public health sense to provide preventative care for immigrants, no matter their documentation. If we do not provide preventative care proactively, costly emergency room visits become the first and only method of healthcare for millions. When a person has a communicable disease and cannot afford care, he or she is less productive at work and more likely to spread an illness to others who cannot afford care either.

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?

I have a Master's in Health Science from NYU, taught health in NYC public schools, and was a leading advocate in the City Council's early efforts to pass anti-smoking legislation. I sponsored a bill that banned looseys from being distributed openly in the streets. I even helped ban smoking in the City Council chamber! So, I am a big believer in the city's anti-smoking efforts and believe they should be continued.
I also support the city's anti-obesity efforts. Obesity is the pre-eminent public health problem facing this generation of Americans. Encouraging a culture of physical activity and healthier living does not always require intervening in the way people eat. However, ignoring the issue creates a huge burden on our healthcare system. I will not only continue the city's current programs, but I will implement new ones that remove incentives for eating poorly and target new revenues to physical activity programs.

We are currently waiting on a response to this question.

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