2022 Elections Profile: Senate Candidate Elizabeth Crowley

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]

Elizabeth Crowley wants to represent Queens again. And Brooklyn. Oh, And Manhattan too.

Crowley, a former city councilwoman from Glendale, is running in the newly redrawn Senate 26, which straddles Western Queens, Northern Brooklyn, and Eastern Manhattan. Crowley is no newcomer to politics, coming from a large political family (her cousin was former Congressman Joseph Crowley, who AOC upset in 2018)  and has run for a slew of offices over the years.

While the district originally encompassed her home of Glendale, Crowley said that her vision and platform apply to a greater swath of New Yorkers.

“I went to college at FIT, I went to grad school in Brooklyn. I identify with the city as a whole,” Crowley said in an interview.  Crowley said that while she represented different neighborhoods back in the council, she pushed for policies that benefit New Yorkers across the board.

Crowley pushed against firehouse closures, fought to close Rikers, and advocated for increased greenway and transit options during her time on the city council. She lost re-election against Councilman Robert Holden in 2020.

“Most of them [inmates] have some level of anxiety, depression and a significant amount of the population as a serious mental health diagnosis, such as schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. And many of them have no family and no support system,” Crowley said of her decision to support bail reform, even though she noted that the legislation went too far in offering bail to alleged violent offenders.”So either way, they’re going to cycle in and out, in and out.”

Crowley said that affordability issues, child care, and education would be among her top issues if elected. In order to tackle the affordability issue, she says that New York needs to build a massive amount of affordable housing with transit to support the development.

“I have constituents in this district, over $3 million houses, in Greenpoint, pay less than property tax, then a modest, 1,000 square-foot homeowner in the district – or even, let’s say, a homeowner in southeast Queens. It’s a city-wide issue that needs to be addressed,” Crowley said, highlighting her desire for broad-based property tax reform. Earlier this year, a group of bipartisan legislators from Albany to the city council called for the issue to be addressed in the next legislative session.

While Crowley said that she wasn’t a fan of 421(a), the city’s now expired affordable housing tax break that critics said didn’t invest enough in actually affordable units, she said there still is a role for the government to subsidize construction.

She also said that she would explore options to reduce construction by “working with unions and project labor agreements to bring down wages, or to get some guarantees or give back to them for the cost of the project.” Crowley has received the most amount of support from labor unions thus far in the race.

The other candidates in the race are Kristen Gonzalez, Mike Corbett, and Nomiki Konst. The election is on Aug. 23, with early voting occurring from Aug. 13 to the 21st.

2022 Elections Profile: Senate Candidate Elizabeth Crowley

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]

Elizabeth Crowley wants to represent Queens again. And Brooklyn. Oh, And Manhattan too.

Crowley, a former city councilwoman from Glendale, is running in the newly redrawn Senate 26, which straddles Western Queens, Northern Brooklyn, and Eastern Manhattan. Crowley is no newcomer to politics, coming from a large political family (her cousin was former Congressman Joseph Crowley, who AOC upset in 2018)  and has run for a slew of offices over the years.

While the district originally encompassed her home of Glendale, Crowley said that her vision and platform apply to a greater swath of New Yorkers.

“I went to college at FIT, I went to grad school in Brooklyn. I identify with the city as a whole,” Crowley said in an interview.  Crowley said that while she represented different neighborhoods back in the council, she pushed for policies that benefit New Yorkers across the board.

Crowley pushed against firehouse closures, fought to close Rikers, and advocated for increased greenway and transit options during her time on the city council. She lost re-election against Councilman Robert Holden in 2020.

“Most of them [inmates] have some level of anxiety, depression and a significant amount of the population as a serious mental health diagnosis, such as schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. And many of them have no family and no support system,” Crowley said of her decision to support bail reform, even though she noted that the legislation went too far in offering bail to alleged violent offenders.”So either way, they’re going to cycle in and out, in and out.”

Crowley said that affordability issues, child care, and education would be among her top issues if elected. In order to tackle the affordability issue, she says that New York needs to build a massive amount of affordable housing with transit to support the development.

“I have constituents in this district, over $3 million houses, in Greenpoint, pay less than property tax, then a modest, 1,000 square-foot homeowner in the district – or even, let’s say, a homeowner in southeast Queens. It’s a city-wide issue that needs to be addressed,” Crowley said, highlighting her desire for broad-based property tax reform. Earlier this year, a group of bipartisan legislators from Albany to the city council called for the issue to be addressed in the next legislative session.

While Crowley said that she wasn’t a fan of 421(a), the city’s now expired affordable housing tax break that critics said didn’t invest enough in actually affordable units, she said there still is a role for the government to subsidize construction.

She also said that she would explore options to reduce construction by “working with unions and project labor agreements to bring down wages, or to get some guarantees or give back to them for the cost of the project.” Crowley has received the most amount of support from labor unions thus far in the race.

The other candidates in the race are Kristen Gonzalez, Mike Corbett, and Nomiki Konst. The election is on Aug. 23, with early voting occurring from Aug. 13 to the 21st.

Gonzalez runs for new Senate district

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]

Kristen Gonzalez is running in the the Senate district that covers Greenpoint and parts of Queens

As a working-class girl from Elmhurst who commuted to middle school on the Upper East Side, Kristen Gonzalez developed an early political consciousness.

Even though she was in the same city, she realized she lived in two different worlds. At her Roosevelt Avenue station in Queens, she saw lines of immigrants waiting to get free breakfast from a Catholic charity. 

When she got off the subway at 86th Street in Manhattan, she saw lines of businessmen in fancy suits and coats grabbing their morning Starbucks. 

Even though Gonzalez is only 26 years old, she already has an impressive background in politics. At Columbia University, she was president of the local College Democrats chapter where she got involved in Get Out The Vote campaigns. 

From there she worked at the City Council writing policy recommendations through the Young Women’s Initiative, but felt like she didn’t see the needle moving. So during what would have been her senior year, she dropped out to work in Washington as a Latino Engagement intern for the Obama administration and then in Senator Chuck Schumer’s office. 

While she says the experience was informative, it also made her realize the change she wanted to make wouldn’t be found in the confines of City Hall or in the Capitol Rotunda, but rather, “it was in the working-class communities that raised me back in Queens.”

Less than 24 hours after the new State Senate district maps were released, Gonzalez declared as a candidate for District 17, which includes areas of Woodhaven, Maspeth, Long Island City, Glendale, Ridgewood and Greenpoint. 

She was first approached by the Democratic Socialists of America to run for office in December. Gonzalez thought it was a real opportunity to build a larger socialist movement in Albany.

“Next week, the strategy is to start down in southern parts of the district and, and really try to build on the movements we’ve seen with campaigns like Felicia Singh to turn up more folks in the Punjabi, Bangladeshi, and Guyanese communities,” she said. “Then coming back up to really engage and build a base of more Latino working-class families, as well.”

Gonzalez has assembled over 20 veteran progressive politicos who worked on campaigns for Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán.

Gonzalez’s top three priorities are passing single-payer health care, building publicly owned renewable energy, and passing good cause eviction and ending subsidies for luxury developments.

She first got involved with DSA in 2018, organizing their tech action working group, rallying support for privacy bills like the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act to force the NYPD to be more transparent about the types of surveillance technology the department uses.

When asked about Mayor Eric Adams’s push to make New York City a hub for cryptocurrency, Gonzalez rolled her eyes.

“It’s a replication of the issue where the city moves forward in a way that benefits the very wealthy who are invested in things like crypto, but without thinking about those who are behind who just don’t have basic access to the internet,” Gonzalez said. 

A recent report from the state comptroller’s office found that over one million New Yorkers lack access to quality broadband services. As a member of the tech action working group, Gonzalez helped create the Internet For All campaign, a 46-page blueprint on how to achieve municipal ownership of broadband utilities.

Gonzalez has already raised over $23,000, and her Twitter account had such a quick influx of support and followers, the social media service put her account under review for “suspicious activity”.

“I could not be more grateful and just humbled by the support that we saw in this last week,” Gonzalez said. “We believe this is the best campaign for the district because we are representative of it.”

Restler looks to hit the ground running

Lincoln Restler is one of the newly elected NYC council members. Can he pull off his progressive agenda in an Adams administration?

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]

 

Lincoln Restler has big dreams for North Brooklyn. 

The freshman councilman for the 33rd District won a crowded Democratic Primary on an ambitious agenda of making the district the first to be carbon neutral in the city, reallocating part of the NYPD budget to create a new public safety agency of social workers and mental health care providers, and preventing the overdevelopment of the Brooklyn waterfront. 

But can he pull it off? 

The 37-year-old councilman may be a freshman in the City Council, but he is far from new to New York City politics. 

Restler first got involved in politics during the 2008 primary for Barack Obama. Inspired by the success of Obama, Restler looked to make the movement more than a moment but a real coalition. 

He helped found, and served for one year as vice president, of the New Kings Democrats, a progressive reform-minded organization that has challenged the Brooklyn Democratic machine. 

At only 26 years old, Restler won his first election in 2010 as a district leader in a successful rebuke against disgraced Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman Vito Lopez’s preferred candidate, Warren Cohn. 

Even though district leaders are unpaid positions with very limited powers, Restler’s upset generated buzzy media coverage. 

After nearly 12 years, a few stints in city government and working for former Mayor Bill de Blasio, Restler still sees himself as the same outsider trying to reform New York City politics. 

Restler may have his work cut out for him under Mayor Eric Adams, a fellow native son of Brooklyn but also a product of the old school machine politics Restler has fought against. 

“I’m committed to pushing for ethical government, for our city to be as ethical as it can possibly be,” Restler said in a recent interview. “And my experience challenging the Brooklyn machine molded me to feel like you have to speak truth to power, you have to call out corruption directly to affect change, and you never have a hard time sleeping when you do the right thing.” 

More recently, Adams has made waves for two controversial appointments: Philip Banks, a former NYPD Chief and un-indicted co-conspirator in a federal police corruption case, as Deputy Mayor of Public Safety, and appointing his younger brother, Bernard Adams, as Deputy Commissioner of the NYPD. 

 

When asked about the appointments, Restler chose his words carefully. 

“I’m concerned any time a family member is appointed to a senior position or a position of power,” said Restler. “I look forward to understanding how they plan to structure the appointment of the mayor’s brother. I’m concerned about the appointment.” 

In regards to Banks’ appointment, Restler said “there are a series of open questions that still need to be answered regarding the investigations relating to Mr. Banks.” 

While Restler’s progressive bonafides and ambitious agenda may be in contrast with the person now sitting in Gracie Mansion, Restler sees opportunities to work with the Mayor to deliver for the residents of North Brooklyn. 

“My goal is to work with the mayor and his team, to work with the speaker and her team, to work with my colleagues in the council to get sh*t done and solve problems and make sure that the most pressing issues in our community are being addressed,” he said. “But I was elected by the people of the 33rd Council District, and it’s my job to faithfully represent their values and their priorities. 

“Sometimes that’s going to be in agreement with the mayor, sometimes that’s going to be a disagreement with the Mayor,” he added. “And that’s okay. We can disagree without getting into a nuclear war. I’m not going to shy away from my beliefs.” 

Specifically, Restler referenced Adams intent to reinstate solitary confinement as his public statements about how council members have no right to question the 22-year veteran of the NYPD. 

“Solitary confinement is torture, and we cannot allow it in New York City jails,” Restler said. “No matter what the mayor’s perspective on that is, I’m going to rally my colleagues in the council to push that legislation forward with a veto-proof majority.” 

Restler said the three biggest problems he wants to address are tackling the affordability crisis in his district, protecting the Brooklyn waterfront from the effects of climate change, and “making our community safer through intelligent, compassionate policies that don’t rely on the police to solve every problem.” 

Even though Restler has just been a Councilman for a little over a week, he has been busy on those issues. 

On December 27, the city announced $75 million for Bushwick Inlet Park, a project Restler has been working with local officials behind the scenes months before his inauguration. 

After a recent anti-Semitic assault in Bay Ridge, Restler canvassed Brooklyn neighborhoods with Councilman Chi Ossé, providing information on how to defuse and 

intervene in hate crimes as a bystander. 

Restler told the Star the first bill he is going to introduce will be repealing Option C of the 421(A) Program, a tax break that developers can qualify for providing affordably housing in new projects. 

Under Option C, affordable housing is defined at up to 130 percent of the average median income for the area. 

“The 421(A) program allows for developers in New York City to get massive tax breaks for building, quote unquote, affordable housing for a single adult making $108,000 a year,” Restler said. “Why are we possibly subsidizing, quote unquote, affordable housing for single adults earning triple digits? It doesn’t make sense.” 

When asked how he would define success when his first term is up, Restler said it would be “if neighbors in our district have more confidence that government can help them solve real problems.” 

“About 15 years ago, there were two massive rezonings in the 33rd Council District, on the waterfront and in downtown Brooklyn, and they have led to massive new developments,” Reslter said. “They have contributed to significant displacement of longtime residents and amounted to a set of broken promises.

“Fifteen years later, I am angry about the promised park spaces, the promised schools, the investments that were supposed to come to accommodate a growing community,” he added. “And I am laser focused on making sure that those broken promises get remedied and that we hold the city accountable.”

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