My Criminal Justice Reform Platform

This is, in many ways, the golden era of criminal justice reform. The tough-on-crime policies that drove a mass incarceration epidemic during the 1970s and 80s are no longer in vogue. Even some conservatives acknowledge we jailed too many people of color, destroying communities for minor infractions or none at all. With crime at historic lows, there is a growing consensus that our criminal justice system must be fixed.

In New York State, we are lurching in the right direction but have a long way to go. As a Democrat running for State Senate — and a journalist who has written about criminal justice issues in the past — I know we are far from the promised land. We keep innocent people in jail because they’re too poor to afford bail. Trials can drag on for years, locking people away who are never even charged with crimes.

I remember how stunned and heart-broken I was when I first read about Kalief Browder. A young man who spent three years on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime, Browder committed suicide at the age of 22.

It was a tragedy that was entirely preventable. Browder was stuck in a Rikers hellhole because trials, due to a variety of loopholes, can be repeatedly delayed in New York State. A right to a speedy trial doesn’t really exist.

As a journalist, I’m used to writing about problems and trying to hold powerful people accountable. As a candidate, I now have a chance to make a difference — and ensure that no one has to go through what Kalief Browder went through.

We won’t fix this until we fix the State Senate. Republicans like my opponent Marty Golden do not support any kind of criminal justice reform. They prefer the rotten status quo.

Below is my criminal justice reform plan, in full.

If you have any questions, concerns, or want to get involved in the campaign, email me

End Cash Bail

Thousands of innocent New Yorkers are rotting in our crumbling jails simply because they can’t afford bail. This is unjust and un-American. Those who are held on bail are more likely to plead down to a lesser charge in order to avoid spending an extended amount of time in our city’s deteriorating jail system. More than two-thirds of those admitted to our jails for 30 days or less are there simply because they can’t come up with the cash to make bail. Like New Jersey, which has effectively eliminated cash bail without seeing any spike in crime, we must end the two-tiered justice system that does nothing to keep New Yorkers safe but does significant damage to indigent defendants.

Speedy Trial Reform

New York State supposedly guarantees the right to a speedy trial to those who are charged with a crime. However, due to countless loopholes that allow for months to go uncounted against the speedy trial clock, defendants have been forced to return to court repeatedly or, even worse, have been forced to await trial while being held in jail due to their inability to pay bail. There is no better example of this abject failure of our criminal justice system than the story of Kalief Browder — yet five years after his release and three years after his death, State Senate Republicans have still refused to work with Democrats to fix this unjust system. New York State needs speedy trial reform immediately to ensure that the injustice suffered by Kalief Browder is never repeated.

Automatic Discovery

The discovery process is a crucial, yet largely unknown, piece of the criminal justice puzzle. In New York State, prosecutors have an ample amount of control over what information they share with the defense and when they do so. This can be as late as the night before a trial begins, as was the case for Ikiesha Al-Shabazz, a defense attorney who received a box of crucial evidence that exonerated her client. In order to have a fair system, we must take action to ensure that defense attorneys have access to the information they need to make an informed judgement on the next steps for their clients. It is impossible for defense attorneys to make informed decisions without real reform coming to the discovery process. Thirty-five states have open discovery rules that require information sharing significantly earlier in the process. These are tested reforms that work across the country and it is time for New York to join the 21st century.

Parole Reform

Our parole system is broken. According to a research brief released by the Columbia University Justice Lab, New York City has seen historically low crime numbers along with a jail population below 9,000 for the first time in three decades. This has been driven by declines in individuals being held for pre-trial misdemeanors, non-violent felonies, and violent felonies. While those numbers continue to fall, one is persistently rising: the number of individuals held on state parole violations. A parole violation can be anything from missing a curfew to associating with a person with a criminal record. This is a particularly troubling issue in New York City. Between 2016 and 2017, the average daily population of parole violators in New York City jails increased by nearly 20 percent while the overall population decreased by nearly 5 percent. New York needs to implement common-sense reforms that have proven to be effective across the country, including adopting a system of graduated sanctions and rewards, instead of automatically dumping people into jail for minor infractions. We need to cap jail terms for minor parole violations and require a judicial hearing before parole officers can jail people accused of technical violations. We must also shorten parole terms for people who stay out of trouble for specified periods of time.

Marijuana Legalization

We must stop criminalizing marijuana possession. New York State ranks second out of all 50 states in terms of marijuana-related arrests made per 100,000 people. In 2017, 16,925 people were arrested for low level marijuana possession in New York City, a decline of only 1 percentage point from the 2016 total of 17,097. Statistics show that these arrests are more prevalent in low income communities of color. This represents an enormous waste of criminal justice resources on the remnants of the failed war on drugs. The New York State Senate must move to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana. With the hundreds of millions raised from legalization, we can help plug a looming state budget deficit.

Felony Disenfranchisement

According to the Sentencing Project, approximately 6 million Americans are disenfranchised due to felony convictions. New Yorkers who are in prison or released on parole are not allowed to vote. However, once released or upon the completion of their parole, their voting rights are restored. While the current situation is better than many states, including those where voting rights are never restored for convicted felons, the system does create confusion regarding probation and parole and falls behind states like Illinois, where only currently imprisoned felons are disenfranchised, and Maine and Vermont, where felons never lose the right to vote. Voting is a pro-social activity that can aid a person’s transition from incarceration to constructive, engaged roles in their community. New York State must move to address and rectify this policy that is rooted in historical racism.

Consolidate the Court System

There are 11 trial courts in New York and one in California, which has twice our population. Divorces are judged by the State Supreme Court but all other related matters like child custody, domestic violence, and divorce agreements are done in Family Court. What does this mean? Cash-strapped families have to go to multiple courts and pay extra fees during the most difficult times of their lives. Money and time is wasted on administration. To make matters worse, New York City and Upstate have different rules regarding judges sitting on other courts when a vacancy comes up. I will join the fight led by the New York City Bar Association to consolidate our courts and bring a rational, progressive, and fair judicial system to New York.

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OPINION: Why I don’t love Marty Golden, and why you shouldn’t, too

A writer by the name of John Alexander published an opinion piece in the Brooklyn Eagle defending the record of his favorite State Senator, Martin “Marty” J. Golden. This piece seemed to be triggered by a recent wave of controversy that has, once again, made the public aware of Golden’s disturbing track record.

Last month, Golden came under fire for claiming the opioid crisis was bothersome to him because opioids aren’t a “ghetto drug” but are affecting “doctors’ kids.” This came just a month after Golden impersonated a police officer, menaced a cyclist, blew through several red lights, and was revealed to be a man who both didn’t like paying speeding tickets and once ran a woman over with his car. This woman would eventually die. Golden quietly settled with the woman’s family for $750,000, a staggering sum of money.

I’m a life-long resident of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, a journalist, a concerned citizen, and Golden’s Democratic opponent. I’m not running because Golden simply belongs to a different party or I have any personal animus toward him. He never treated me badly as a reporter.

I am running because his record is ultimately one of failure. He has been a roadblock to every reform imaginable. He poses as a fighter for this community, but ducks when the going gets tough. He doesn’t even really know how to stand up to Democrats. He is a noxious legislator.

After reading Alexander’s defense of Golden — he copiously quotes from two high-ranking Golden staffers — I felt compelled to respond. It’s telling that Alexander considers Golden’s crowning achievement his battle for a film and television tax credit.

John Alexander’s op-ed

Imagine, spending nearly 20 years in the majority of the upper chamber of the state legislature, and that’s what you put on your plaque.

Tax credits can be nice. They also bleed cities and states of revenue. Golden seems to endorse the idea of New York spending $600 million a year to bail out wealthy film producers who don’t create nearly enough jobs to make up for that lost revenue. The number of people employed in New York in “motion picture and sound recording” (the state’s designation) and “motion picture and video production” (the feds’) actually appears to have decreased in recent years.

Tax breaks for tenants and struggling homeowners would be helpful. But Golden would rather subsidize his millionaire pals at Steiner Studios.

Golden’s deputy chief of staff, John Quaglione, boasted to Alexander that his boss was a champion of the Barclays Center. This is a bizarre brag to make for a few reasons. One, it was a favorite project of Mayor (and former Park Slope City Councilman) Bill de Blasio, who Golden — despite his swaggering Republican brand — can’t really stand up to, or won’t. Two, Barclays has been a failure. It loses money. Promised affordable housing barely materialized. Gentrification has chased longtime residents away.

If Golden wants to own the Barclays Center disaster, all the power to him.

Alexander ticks through funding Golden has brought back for various causes, which is easy enough when you sit in a majority engineered by gerrymandering and a complicit Democratic governor. None of his work, however, has remotely addressed the great crisis of this city: transportation.

Here is where the paper tiger can’t even muster a roar. Alexander points to Golden’s record of restoring weekend service for an express bus that mostly runs along Shore Road. (Hey, I grew up on Shore Road! Woo!)

“Golden is the representative to the MTA Capital Program Review Board, which is responsible for overseeing and approving MTA spending,” Alexander writes. “Last May Golden announced that the MTA board had made X-28 bus weekend service permanent, a proposal he had been advocating for some time.”

That’s it. Forty-four words out of 1,252 were dedicated to transportation.

Forty. Four.

I’ve taken the X-27 and the X-28. I’m glad they exist. I also, like a vast majority of residents in Bay Ridge, struggle daily with the breakdowns on the R train and buses that rarely show up. When I lived in Sheepshead Bay and badly sprained my ankle playing football, I could not ride the B and Q train at the Sheepshead Bay train station because there was no elevator. For almost 20 years, Golden has sat in the majority and on the MTA capital review board and done nothing to make the subways accessible for seniors and people with disabilities. It’s a travesty.

No single politician can be blamed for the full-scale collapse of the transportation system as we know it. Democrats and Republicans share blame. But Golden has been in a unique position to hold the MTA — a failed bureaucracy that does not know how to spend money — accountable for screwing the rest of us.

He never has.

The irony here is he will inevitably attack me as a tax-and-spend liberal because this is the stale playbook he operates from. He doesn’t really have new ideas. What the people of this district will understand quickly is that I am the one calling for fiscal sanity. I am the one livid that we just spent $2.5 billion per mile to add three Q stops on the Upper East Side when transportation agencies around the world are building out whole new lines for far less money.

The MTA is a gaping black hole eating our tax dollars. It is in desperate need of top-to-bottom reform. We must audit the MTA. And the State Senate needs to get off it’s you-know-what and actually hold a hearing dedicated to the sorry state of this transportation behemoth.

Golden just doesn’t care. He’s afraid of standing up to the MTA and the Governor who runs it. He’d rather talk about his summer concerts.

Weak leaders have failed us long enough. Let’s change that in November.

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My Education Platform

Before I ran for office and before I entered journalism, I wanted to be a teacher. I relished being in the classroom, sharing with students my love of the written and spoken word. As an undergraduate at Stony Brook University, I majored in English education and obtained my certification to teach in New York high schools. I felt the calling.

Teachers can be heroes. The best can inspire children to reach their potential and make a profound difference during their most crucial years. In America, we don’t treat our teachers well enough. We allow a “reform” movement to denigrate their work. We engineer a system of nonstop standardized tests that is destroying classroom morale. With few exceptions, we don’t pay them nearly enough.

When I was 22, after a stint student teaching at Central Islip High School in Suffolk County, I became a substitute teacher at Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge. It was 2011, three years after the economic crash, and most public schools were not hiring full-time teachers. In the late fall, I found out my job application at a local newspaper in Queens had been accepted. I was going to be a journalist. I was going to live another dream.

I never forgot where I came from, so to speak. Education remained at the forefront of my mind, even as I rose through the ranks of the journalism world. I’m a product of local public and private schools — I’ve traveled both worlds. I attended P.S. 185. I graduated from Poly Prep, a private prep school, and Stony Brook, a state university. I’ve played baseball with kids with Hamptons homes and kids on the brink of poverty.

I recently released the education platform for my State Senate campaign, a platform that is an embodiment of my values and also a living, breathing document. As I campaign this winter, spring, summer, and fall — yeah, these elections are really long — I will be talking to many parents, educators, and kids about what works and what doesn’t. I’m always learning. We all are.

At the core of my philosophy is my belief that we need to increase funding for our public schools, equitably fund them, and recruit the best and brightest to teacher our children. Teachers must be paid more so the most talented remain in the system. They must be paid more sooner to stave off attrition. We must mirror other high-achieving nations by making teaching an elite profession. For our education system to succeed, our top college graduates must be attracting to teaching — like they are in European countries — instead of other more lucrative, less crucial fields.

Without further ado, here are the planks of my education platform.

Stop Overcrowding of Our Schools

School overcrowding is out of control. Class size plays a large role in educational outcomes, yet as recently as 2016 80 percent of city students were in classrooms that exceeded state standards for size limits. While some steps have been taken to do more to alleviate overcrowding, the city and state education departments haven’t done nearly enough. In grades K-8 in Districts 20 and 21, average class size is just above 27 students. In District 22, average class size is 26. Far more funding is needed to build new schools to guarantee our children have the space they need to grow and learn. If elected, I will fight to ensure each school district within the Senate District adds at least one new school.

Stop Privatization of Public Schools

Time and time and time again we have seen that charter schools in New York City are simply not the shining beacons they claim to be. Yet politicians in Albany, especially Republicans like Marty Golden who are beholden to the hedge fund lobby that boost charters, force more of them on New York City. Charter school expansion must come to a halt. Instead of co-locating charters in overcrowded public school buildings, we need to open more public schools. Instead of providing over a billion dollars in funding to charters, that money should be poured into struggling public schools and used to fund the construction of new schools to alleviate overcrowding. And instead of supporting a fractured system where public schools provide an education to all our children while charters provide an education to those they don’t target for suspension and removal, we need one system that works for all students.

Fairly Fund Our Schools

In 2006 the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that the state was not providing students with the classroom resources they needed to ensure they received a “sound basic education.” Twelve years later, the State of New York still isn’t paying its fair share. Across the board, the state has effectively decided to ignore the courts and shirk its responsibility to its children by continuing to withhold funding related to the settlement. New York City alone is estimated to be owed nearly $2 billion. Major schools in Senate District 22, including Fort Hamilton High School, New Utrecht High School, and Leon Goldstein High School are owed collectively more than $10 million, according to the Alliance for Quality Education.

This influx of funding could help teachers pay for supplies, get students new materials, and provide our system with funding that is desperately needed to increase capacity. The Governor and the Legislature, particularly the Republican-controlled State Senate, have been embarrassingly silent on this issue for too long, and our children should not bear the brunt of another round of funding cuts in the face of increasing economic uncertainty.

End High Stakes Testing Culture

Finland has one of the most successful school systems in the world by any measure. Public schools are treated as national treasures, teaching is a cherished profession, and there are no standardized tests. None.

It is impossible in this climate to eliminate standardized testing as we know it, especially in the wake of the terribly misguided initiatives that came out of the Bush and Obama administrations, but we in New York can move away from the militant regime of testing that demoralizes students, teachers, and parents alike. Last year, New York State announced the annual tests taken in elementary and middle schools would be reduced from three days per subject to two. This was a welcome development, but doesn’t go nearly far enough — testing per subject should consume no more than one day and be phased out over time completely.

I believe in actual education reform — a holistic approach to education that focuses on more than just teaching to the test. An emphasis must be placed on clubs, electives, and hands-on learning to ensure students are well-rounded and can think critically as opposed to being able to regurgitate answers. Rote-learning doesn’t prepare children for the real world.

Recruit the Best Teachers

Teaching is an elite, highly-valued profession in most successful public school systems worldwide. Again, Finland can point the way. The best college graduates in the country enter the teaching profession. Programs are highly selective, like Ivy League schools here — except they’re free, of course.

In New York, we treat teachers better than some other states, but we still fail to attract and retain the best talent to educate our children. Demonizing teachers and weakening union protections doesn’t work. Teachers unions in high-achieving nations are robust.

We must pay new teachers more in New York City and ensure they reach pay scales comparable with well-funded school districts in the suburbs. While the starting salary of a public school teacher with a master’s degree is about $60,000 — on par with other urban areas nationwide — pay doesn’t increase fast enough to retain the most talented teachers who are eventually lured away by higher-paying professions. Increasing starting pay by at least 10%, phasing in raises more quickly, and ensuring teacher training programs at public universities become more academically rigorous and selective will ensure a stronger crop of teachers enter our public schools.

End School Segregation

Despite our reputation as a diverse and tolerant city, we have one of the most segregated school systems in America. This seemingly intractable problem dates back decades and has long gone unaddressed by Democrats and Republicans alike. We know that historically underserved communities and populations have suffered for decades from inequitable investment. We know that when children are underserved throughout their entire academic career before grade 8 they face steep uphill climbs when their acceptance to a specialized high school hinges on a single exam.

When a high school requires a portfolio of work from prior grades to be presented, it is difficult to provide one when a child is coming from a part of the school system that has failed them for a decade. This is why we need to scale back or do away with zoning completely, break with the overreliance on entrance exams, and ensure equitable services are provided in all public schools. This is not a problem that will be solved overnight, but it’s one we must confront — segregation is a stain on this otherwise great city.

Free NYC Schools from Albany’s Clutches

It’s time to stop playing politics with New York City’s schoolchildren. We must have permanent control over our school system, and not have to repeatedly beg suburban and upstate Republicans in the State Senate for permission to do what we choose. The status quo has allowed Marty Golden and his cronies to cut deals to grow hedge fund-backed charter schools in the city.

Yes, politicians who have no constituents within a hundred miles of our city can impose their will by forcing an expansion of charters. Threatening to throw our school system into chaos in order to push a right-wing vision for education is appalling. I will fight to ensure that the only people who have control over the education debate in this city are the people who live in it.

Bigotry and Politics

How does a politician represent people? How does a single individual with a single upbringing and worldview entirely influenced by a particular culture, class, religion or race seek to speak for, stand up for, or listen to everyone?

It’s not a simple task. It’s especially a challenge for a politician who hasn’t endured the discrimination, harassment, and bigotry faced by people of color and women. I’m a white man. I’ll never know what it’s like to be a truly marginalized person.

As I run for State Senate in an increasingly diverse Southern Brooklyn district, I try to remain cognizant of what I know and what I don’t know. I seek to be an ally of those who feel the political process has left them out. I try to be sensitive to the many cultures living here.

I grew up in Bay Ridge, white and Jewish. I didn’t endure the anti-Semitism of my ancestors, who fled Russia for a better life here. I did deal, however, with the occasional jokes about my religion. Most of the kids around me were not Jewish. They didn’t understand why I didn’t celebrate Christmas. They asked me why my people wore “funny hats” and beards, or why we were all so “cheap” or “into money.”

I tried to shrug it off. I tried to be self-deprecating. I was rather secular, after all, and told myself I was an American first. But, as my mother would tell me, if you ever forget you’re a Jew, an anti-Semite will remind you.

As the summer of 2001 wound down, I was playing baseball for the Dyker Heights Knights, manning the outfield and occasionally pitching. I had a plucky teammate named Mohammad who, like me, lived in Bay Ridge and loved the game of baseball. Mo, as he was called by everyone, was a catcher and a power hitter who would rack up his fair share of strikeouts. When he whiffed, he would moan loudly, but when he got a hold of one, it was something to behold.

September 11th happened shortly after my summer ball season ended. I’ll never forget my father saying to me, very sadly, that things might get a lot harder for Mo now. I didn’t quite understand. He was a kid like me who lived in Bay Ridge his whole life, whose parents came to all the games like my parents came.

It was because, my father said, racists would start to blame all Muslims for what happened. They would look for scapegoats. Patriotism surged after 9/11, but so did hatred.

When my Republican state senator, Martin “Marty” J. Golden, who has represented my neighborhood since 2003, said last year that the 9/11 hijackers came from Bay Ridge, I felt a hot surge of anger. It came from an old place, from the memory of that summer and Mo behind the plate, catching fastballs and pounding his mitt. Mo and his family were just like everyone else.

Mo wanted what I wanted. To get the big hit, to win the game, to go home to a warm dinner, to grow up and play in the Major Leagues.

“A number of them that drove the planes into the, 9–11, into the building at World Trade Center that killed 3,000 Americans — are you ready for this? They were in this community, they lived here in Bay Ridge, they were visiting in this community,” Golden told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer in 2017.

This is untrue. None of the hijackers came from Bay Ridge. None of them had ties to Bay Ridge. Like his favorite president, Donald Trump, Marty Golden never lets facts get in the way of good old-fashioned bigotry.

On September 11th, 2017, I went to the 9/11 ceremony at the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge. I wasn’t yet a candidate for office — I went to watch, to remember, to reflect again on that day of cataclysm.

Golden was the sponsor of the ceremony. I knew because his name was attached to the little American flags that were handed out. As the ceremony began, and the religious leaders came forward, one by one, I was struck by what was missing: an imam. No one from the Muslim faith was there to offer a prayer. I would later learn that none was invited.

Golden seems to forget he’s representing 318,000 people in his Senate district. Many of them practice faiths that aren’t his own. Many of them come from communities that have been marginalized. Many of them want politicians to stand up for them but turn away from the political process because they are ignored, again and again.

With politicians like Golden representing them, I don’t blame them.

I promise to be a state senator for every person in my district. To represent not just people like myself, but everyone — Arab-Americans, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ community, and all people who feel they don’t have a voice in government.

We can’t build any kind of progressive future without them.

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Who Is Fit to Hold Office?

I have lived in Bay Ridge for almost my entire life. I’ve walked in Ragamuffin Parades, pitched in the 68th Precinct little league (team Gold), and spent many an afternoon and night biking this lovely neighborhood, winding down from the promenade to Shore Road and up 3rd, 4th, and 5th Avenues, taking in the place I am proud to call home.

In 2002, Martin “Marty” J. Golden was elected to the State Senate. It was shortly after my Bar Mitzvah. He’s been there ever since. When Democrats were trying to overthrow the deleterious George W. Bush regime in 2004, Golden ran unopposed. When Democrats took back the House in 2006, Golden ran unopposed. When Barack Obama became our first Black president and inspired millions, Golden ran unopposed.

In 2016, when Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States, Martin J. Golden ran unopposed.

I’ve long been embarrassed by my state senator, and I know many of my neighbors feel the same way. This was why I decided to run against him.

He doesn’t think gay people should get married. He doesn’t think women should have the right to choose. He doesn’t think landlords and real estate developers should have to care about working class people. He doesn’t think our public transportation system matters. He doesn’t think our Arab-American community should be a part of our neighborhood. He doesn’t think we should have access to affordable healthcare. He really, really doesn’t think we should have any campaign finance laws.

People make fun of Southern Brooklyn. Usually they’re in the brownstone or hipster belts — nothing against those folks! — and they wonder what’s up with us. Why does this guy Golden keep winning? Why does someone who unabashedly supports Trump and disrespects so many people get to hang around?

On Monday night, many people learned what we in Bay Ridge have known for a long time — that Golden is not fit to be a state senator. His vehicle sped through a bike lane, menaced a cyclist, and ran two red lights. He pretended to be a police officer. When confronted about his disturbing and despicable behavior, he blamed it on “cyclist road rage,” whatever the hell that is. The Department of Investigation and the Attorney General’s Office should investigate Golden’s actions, at the minimum.

What galled me most, perhaps, was how Golden flagrantly violated traffic laws. He believes he’s above the law. He doesn’t think speed cameras should be installed in school zones. Remarkably, in 2005, he ran over a woman with his car — it was ruled an accident — and his driving habits have remained what they are because he just doesn’t care.

I do care. In October, my campaign released a comprehensive transportation platform that puts pedestrians, seniors, cyclists, and everyone who uses public transportation first. I support making it easier for people to get around safely. We need to cut pedestrian deaths to zero and drastically improve our trains and our buses.

I drive a car. I’ve gotten my fair share of tickets. I know the frustration of getting hit with a ticket by a red light camera or struggling to find parking. But I also understand why these cameras exist, and how they keep motorists from speeding. I am grateful a red light camera has slowed down cars next to Ft. Hamilton High School.

Automobiles are machines. Automobiles can kill. When you get behind the wheel of a car, you have to be cognizant of this fact. You have to respect the power you have and understand that one mistake can end a person’s life.

Golden proved on Monday none of that matters to him. His message? If you are on a bike or just walking, you don’t really matter. You are an impediment. A bike lane, for him, exists as another driving lane, a way to beat the traffic.

This is disgraceful. Luckily, 2018 may be the last year we have to tolerate this kind of behavior.

And if you want to defeat Golden, please consider helping me.

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My Senior Citizens Platform

Brooklyn can be a challenging place to live, especially if you’re older.

Rents are rising. Traffic is getting worse. The trains and buses don’t run like they used to — or they don’t run at all.

As I campaign for State Senate, I think often about how I can try to make the lives of people in my district a little bit better. What policies can I champion? What can I directly do?

On Monday, the Bay Ridge Eagle reported on my campaign’s senior citizens platform, and I’m happy to share it in full here. At the core of it, I think, is my belief that we have to make living here more affordable. Healthcare costs and housing costs are out of control, even predatory. We have to stand up to the pharmaceutical and real estate industries. Our politicians simply have to do more.

Below, you’ll find my platform. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or think I overlooked any issues.

A “New Deal” for Senior Housing

We have a senior housing crisis in Brooklyn and across New York City. The average citizen aged 62 or older waits seven years upon applying for housing, according to a recent report from the nonprofit advocacy group LiveOn NY. Waiting lists are sometimes so crowded that buildings close them entirely. Seniors are left with few options aside from remaining in apartments they can’t pay for any longer. About 200,000 elderly New Yorkers are actually on these waiting lists — and that is unconscionable.

As Brooklyn’s senior population continues to boom, City Hall must do more to allow senior housing, instead of luxury condos, to be built in rezoned areas and on city-owned property. Concessions to greedy real estate developers must end. More importantly, the State has a role to play — we must drastically increase the amount of funding for senior housing. While the Governor recently announced a $2.5 billion plan to build 110,000 units of affordable housing, that is just not be enough to adequately serve seniors. We need more than double that much funding to create a New Deal for senior housing — one that keep seniors living productive, healthy lives right here in Brooklyn. In addition to battling for new funding for senior housing throughout the 22nd Senate District, I will fight to ensure the Angel Guardian Home in Dyker Heights is turned into senior housing.

Freeze Rents on Rent-Controlled Apartments

Many rent-controlled tenants are senior citizens. Right now, these tenants are being threatened with a drastic increase in their rent — potentially leading to eviction — as part of the State’s plan for a 7 percent rent hike. Right now, New York State Homes and Community Renewal — the state agency that oversees housing — does not consider a tenant’s income before moving forward with such increases.

We must pass legislation to ensure incomes are factored into any decision made about rent hikes on rent-controlled apartments. If a senior citizen is living solely on a fixed income, sudden increases do not make sense — they are capricious and cruel. Since Brooklyn faces a severe shortage of affordable housing and senior housing, and developers are only incentivized to make profits at the expense of everyone else, an indefinite rent freeze on rent-controlled apartments is absolutely necessary.

Bring a Community Center to Bay Ridge and Elsewhere

Social isolation for seniors is an under-discussed but very real problem — and they deserve every opportunity to meet people, make friends, and enjoy intellectual stimulation. Without access to a well-programmed community center, seniors can grow lonelier, less active, and less healthy. We need more community centers across our district — and we need those centers to offer high-quality programming and activities that specifically serve and support seniors.

Bay Ridge lacks a full-service community center — and we must change that. It is well within our power to do this and there many different ways through which we can pursue it. One of the best options is to establish a community land trust on city-owned land in the neighborhood and work together to build the community center we need. If needed, I will also work to secure state funding to build a community center.

Make Transportation Accessible for All

Seniors and people with disabilities are unfairly denied access to our subway system every day — and that is because the MTA has refused to provide elevators at the vast majority of subway stations, especially in Southern Brooklyn. State Senator Marty Golden has been particularly weak on this issue and has failed to take any action to compel the MTA to make our subways accessible to everyone.

I will change that by holding the MTA accountable for its past failures and convening hearings and audits that expose problems and force the agency to do the right thing. We must finally make our subway stations accessible. Additionally, we must upgrade our city buses and improve service to ensure they actually show up and get our residents where they need to be. (I outlined my plan for buses in a recently released transportation platform.)
We know too that Access-a-Ride continues to fail our seniors, showing up late or not coming at all. It is in desperate need of reform. We need more data on the actual quality of service, a complaint process that is transparent, and on-demand service — in 2017, it is ridiculous that seniors must book a ride a day in advance.

Stand Up to Big Pharma and Control Prescription Drug Costs

I know firsthand how ineffective and immoral our healthcare system can be. My father, a senior and Type 1 diabetic, relies on insulin to survive, and saw the price skyrocket last year for no reason other than the greed of big pharmaceutical companies. Part of the problem here is that Republicans on the federal level do not allow the government negotiate Medicare drug prices. We need Medicare for All to guarantee healthcare access for all, and to control the costs of prescription drugs.

A statewide single-payer system in New York, which can only become a reality once Senator Golden’s Republican party is out of power, would lower the cost of drugs for our seniors. With a Medicare for All system in place, New York’s negotiating position would be increased dramatically. Drug companies would no longer have such leverage over one of the largest and most influential states in America. And predatory insurance companies would no longer be able to reap such lavish profits off the medical needs of our seniors.

Fight Hunger

One in four older adults living at home is nutritionally at-risk, which is a significant factor in half of all senior hospital admissions and readmissions. Part of the broader problem is that seniors are dramatically unenrolled in SNAP benefits. Politicians must do more to educate eligible seniors about their right to SNAP and decrease stigma. I will make battling senior hunger a priority when he is elected, because no one should have to make the everyday choice between buying food, medication, or paying rent.

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My Climate Change Platform

I remember that night, now more than five years ago, too well. I was in Bay Ridge, nervously watching TV and checking Twitter. Reports worsened by the hour. Fires in the Rockaways. Massive flooding on Long Island and New Jersey. Many feared dead.

I was lucky. My neighborhood was above sea level and my apartment building never lost power. At some point, I decided to venture outside, taking my camera with me. As a young journalist in my first job, Queens was my beat — I was a Queens Tribune reporter covering everything imaginable — but Brooklyn was my home. I entered the park across the street, walking down the steps toward the bridge that takes pedestrians over the Belt Parkway and to the promenade. Heading there was simply going “down by the water,” as my mom would say.

The water that night did not stay down. It rushed across the walking path, the bike path, and swallowed the Belt Parkway. I was awed and terrified. Here was the surreal made real, the very roadway I had zipped down thousands of times now underwater. My world would never be the same.

Last week, you may have read about the climate change platform I released for my State Senate campaign. I wanted to make sure I detailed it for you in full, as well as explain why I unveiled a standalone platform in the first place. One of my great frustrations as a journalist and voter is how little politicians actually talk about climate change. Entire televised presidential debates have passed without a mention. Given what’s a stake, that always struck me as especially ludicrous.

The district I am hoping to represent, New York’s 22nd, runs along the Southern Brooklyn waterfront. Hurricane Sandy lashed our shores and flooded many neighborhoods, though the media’s focus was on other impacted areas. People in my district understand just how crucial combating climate change and preparing for future storm surges really is — and why not attacking this existential threat in a serious way is shameful. My Republican opponent has been silent on the issue.

Below, you’ll find my plan. If you have any comments, feel free to drop me a line at

Call for New York State to Divest Its Pension Funds From Fossil Fuel Companies

We can’t truly win the war on climate change and protect our future until we stop burning fossil fuels. The only way to guarantee we have an economy entirely reliant on clean, renewable energy is to move away from the use of fossil fuels as quickly as possible. New York State can join other governments around the world by making the critical choice to divest from companies that generate revenue from oil, gas and coal. This is both ethical and financially prudent. The energy industry is evolving — renewable energy has overtaken coal as the world’s largest source of power capacity. New York can’t call itself a leader in the climate justice movement until all pensions funds are divested from these destructive industries.

Join With Local Elected Officials to Fight for a Southern Brooklyn Storm Barrier

It is inexcusable that Brooklyn remains in the path of another devastating storm surge. The federal government has failed to even begin construction on a $3.8 billion coastal storm barrier project that would guard much of Southern Brooklyn from future flooding. Funding steams are reportedly drying up. If the Trump White House (not so surprisingly) won’t step up, it will be up to our state government to protect our neighborhoods. I will pressure the Feds to cough up the much-needed cash, but I also understand we can’t sit around and wait for this President to actually do what needed to be done. As a state senator, I will battle on the state level to ensure a small slice of our $150 billion budget is carved out for this crucial project. Lives are at stake and we can’t wait.

Fight Back Against Dangerous Overdevelopment of Our Waterfronts

Despite Brooklyn being no more prepared for another superstorm than it was in 2012, overdevelopment continues on our waterfront. Real estate developers are throwing up luxury condos, thanks to tax breaks doled out by Republicans in the State Senate and landlord-friendly Democrats, in areas prone to flooding, like Sheepshead Bay. I will pressure City Hall to adopt a new zoning code to cut down on runaway development along the Southern Brooklyn waterfront. We should not be building large housing developments in Flood Zones 1 or 2, which are highly vulnerable to future storms. Severe restrictions on height and the number of units must be placed upon all new construction in these areas. With water levels rising, there is no reason to place more Brooklynites in harm’s way. I will partner with local elected officials and fight against a developer-friendly City Hall to ensure more people aren’t endangered.

Pass the New York Climate and Community Protection Act

Yet another progressive piece of legislation that has been blocked by the Republican-controlled State Senate, the New York Climate and Community Protection Act would add a new article, Climate Change, to the environmental conversation law. It would, among other things, force the Department of Environmental Conservation to develop a climate action plan and create regulations to cut down greenhouse gas emissions statewide. The bill would also mandate that half of the electricity consumed in New York State come from renewable sources by 2030 and requires all of state government to consider climate and clean energy goals in their permitting and funding decisions. We must also set into law Governor Cuomo’s goal of eliminating all fossil fuel usage by 2050.

Support a New York Carbon Tax

If New York is to actually serve as a model for the nation, we must put a price on carbon emissions and enact a carbon tax. This is one of the only ways to substantially reduce near and long-term carbon emissions. A carbon tax alone could cut emissions nearly 36 percent by 2040. Ideally, a federal carbon tax would be enacted to cut emissions, but there is little hope of that with a climate change denier in the White House. A carbon tax could be used to offset other taxes or fund sustainability and climate adaption measures. It would also not be harmful to the economy: countries that have enacted carbon taxes, like Sweden, have grown their economies while drastically reducing emissions. With a tax in place, New York could truly begin to transition to a renewable energy future and fight climate change in a serious way.

My Women’s Rights Platform

Despite the knowledge I’ve accumulated as a journalist and cynical New Yorker, I’ve learned in the past few weeks just how naive my conception of the world has been. In part that was because of my own life experiences, living with the privilege of being someone who has never been sexually harassed, raped, or demeaned. I knew, intellectually, sexual harassment was a problem, but always assumed most people knew better. Mad Men was over. We had evolved.

Of course that isn’t the case. I don’t have to recount for you the disturbing revelations, one after another, that have rocked just about every industry imaginable over the last month. Predators like Harvey Weinstein deserve to suffer for what they have done. And the people who enabled and tolerated his behavior — the many actors, producers, and friends who shrugged it off — deserve to be punished too.

When I put together my women’s rights platform for my State Senate campaign, I knew I had to address this. The culture in politics is no less misogynistic than the entertainment culture. Powerful people, particularly men, too often abuse their positions, instilling fear and ruining lives. We have to do much better.

Below, in full, is my platform. If you feel an issue went unaddressed or have a critique, feel free to email me. I am always looking to improve.

Enact Universal Health Care

Health care is a human right, and providing universal health care is a feminist issue. Bringing Medicare for All to New York will especially benefit women and people of color and will combat the inequities suffered by low-income women. Women pay more for their health care, they’re less likely to have a job that provides health care, and they earn less than men, making them less able to afford their health care.

The New York Health Act, which is stalled in the Republican-controlled State Senate, would guarantee free health care to every New Yorker, including essential reproductive health services like contraception and abortion. I will also fight to guarantee it covers hormonal therapy, sexual reassignment surgery, and all sexual health services to ensure no New Yorker has to pay more because of their sexual identity or orientation. Private insurance companies would not be allowed to discriminate against New Yorkers any longer. True justice for women can’t be achieved without access to free healthcare. We must pass the New York Health Act and make Medicare for All a reality in our state.

Institute a Statewide Ban on Asking for Salary History

New York City recently banned employers from asking about a prospective employee’s salary history. This was a major milestone in the fight for pay equity. Women and people of color, who routinely earn far less than white men in the workplace, are penalized for their past employers’ discriminatory decisions. Employers perpetuate past inequities and make hiring decisions and set pay rates based on discriminatory data. Public Advocate Letitia James, who sponsored the legislation, should be commended for her tireless advocacy.

Now we must take this policy statewide. There is no reason women and people of color in other cities across the state must suffer this form of gender and racial discrimination. I will fight for a statewide ban on inquiries about salary history and help to make all of New York a fairer, more equitable place.

Pass the Reproductive Health Act Into Law and Stand Up to Trump Republicans

Reproductive rights in New York are being threatened by President Donald Trump and other Republican, anti-choice extremists in Washington — making it more important than ever to stand with Planned Parenthood, fight for a woman’s right to choose, and pass the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) into law as soon as possible. The RHA, which has been repeatedly blocked by Republicans in the State Senate, would protect fundamental reproductive rights by making the right to abortion recognized in Roe v. Wade part of New York law. This crucial and commonsense step forward would safeguard New Yorkers in the event of federal attempts — now seemingly inevitable — to restrict abortion access. Last updated in 1970, our state’s law on abortion falls woefully short both of constitutional protections established in 1973 and does not reflect current medical practices. I would also seek to codify into law the regulator action taken by the state government in January that guaranteed contraceptive drugs and devices are covered by health insurance policies without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles regardless of how Donald Trump tries to gut the Affordable Care Act.

Pass the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA) Into Law

In many parts of New York State, it is permissible to discriminate based on gender identity because of our outdated and immoral laws. I will fight to pass GENDA as soon as possible. GENDA would outlaw discrimination against transgender persons in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and credit. GENDA would do this by adding gender identity and expression as protected classes under existing state human rights law. Trans New Yorkers are especially vulnerable without GENDA. Now more than ever, with a bigoted president and an empowered Republican Party, New York must be a haven for anyone who faces discrimination.

Speak Out Against Sexual Harassment — No Matter the Circumstances

There is no denying that women face unacceptable sexual harassment in workplaces throughout New York and across the nation, whether it is at large corporations, media conglomerates or in the halls of government — including the New York State Legislature. It’s time for that to end — and it’s time for men to stop pretending they somehow don’t know what’s going on. As more women speak out every day to tell their stories, men have a responsibility to step up and call out any colleagues — including friends — who are engaging in unacceptable behavior.

I am making a clear and simple pledge — if I am elected to serve in the State Senate and sees workplace harassment in the Legislature, I will (with consent of the victim or victims) call it out. Whether the harasser is a lawmaker, a staffer or anyone else, I will not be silent. I will not protect men in power from being held responsible for unacceptable, sexist behavior. And if Albany power brokers don’t like that, I don’t really care.

Ban Revenge Porn

For years, legislation banning revenge porn has languished in Albany. This is inexcusable. I would prioritize passing legislation that brings New York in line with many others states that have recognized the urgent need to address this serious problem. The bill would criminalize the nonconsensual disclosure of sexually graphic images. Targets of revenge porn are overwhelmingly women. Right now, these women have no recourse, beyond suing in civil court, if someone makes their images public without permission. Many women find their career prospects and personal lives ruined. They are endlessly harassed and demeaned. The State Legislature must finally act to address this situation.

Institute a “Baby Box” Program to Help New Mothers and Protect Infants

We must do everything we can to decrease shockingly high infant mortality rates in New York City and across the state. In many countries, every pregnant woman is gifted with a box of essentials, including diapers, a bath towel, a thermometer, and a picture book. Once the items are removed, the box can be used as a bassinet. Finland, where the program was begun more than a half-century ago, has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.

A free baby box program in New York would go a long way toward aiding new mothers in the crucial first months of childrearing. A baby-box program would also help to combat sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Ohio, New Jersey, and Alabama already offer baby boxes to parents of all newborns, in exchange for completing online educational materials about safe sleep. SIDS has sadly been on the uptick nationwide. If New York truly wants to be a progressive leader, a statewide baby box program is essential.

Coupled with this program, however, should be the right to free prenatal and postnatal care for all women in New York State. The State must be legally obligated to provide maternity and child health clinics. We need a robust home-visiting program for women after birth.

My Transportation Plan

One of the fun things about running for office is proposing solutions for serious problems. As a journalist, I could do this all the time, but it always came down to someone else — an elected official, an empowered bureaucrat, or some other influential person — listening to these ideas and weighing whether they should even consider implementing them. Now, as a State Senate candidate, I can create a platform and campaign on it myself. This is liberating.

Transportation is obviously going to be a centerpiece of this campaign because getting around Southern Brooklyn is such a nightmare. The buses are slow, the trains barely run, and nothing is accessible for people with disabilities. Pedestrians are at the mercy of automobiles. It can take many hours to move just a few miles. My campaign released a video yesterday to illustrate some of that frustration.

I truly believe the failure of our transportation grid poses an existential threat to Brooklyn and the rest of the city. New York is only so exceptional, and if the trains and buses don’t show up, the cost of living can only be justified for so long. Mobility is the lifeblood of this city. Without it, what are we?

I hope other politicians begin to take transportation much more seriously. I know I will. Without further ado, here is my 10-point Transportation Agenda for Southern Brooklyn.

(Marty Golden, are you listening?)

· Upgrade Our Dilapidated Subway System Now

We must force the MTA to upgrade the subway’s nearly century-old signaling system so our trains can actually show up when they’re supposed to show up. Breakdowns due to “signal delay” are unacceptable. A vast majority of the MTA’s resources must be geared toward installing a computerized signaling system (CBTC) on every train line in the next decade. CBTC would dramatically expand the system’s capacity without building a single new tunnel or piece of track. At the MTA’s current pace, upgrading the subway system’s entire signal network would take a half century and cost $20 billion. Right now, a vast majority of train lines rely on antiquated “block signaling” to coordinate the movement of trains. Decades of disinvestment and a dysfunctional state government has damaged our economy and ruined the commutes of millions. Only with a laser-like focus on CBTC — prioritizing new signal networks above all else — can we get the modern transportation system we need to keep New York City from backsliding to the bad old days. If stations need to close to end delays as we know them, this is acceptable — as long as rapid shuttle buses replace lost trains and no money is spent on superficial upgrades.

· Spend Money the Right Way, Not the Wrong Way

We must push for an official, independent audit of the MTA — a failed bureaucracy — and its profligate spending. Everyone knows that the Second Avenue Subway is the most expensive subway in the world and that the MTA’s costs are unmatched. If money were spent more efficiently and allocated more judiciously, we could have much needed upgrades in service across Brooklyn and the other boroughs. The State Senate, in conjunction with the Assembly, must hold emergency hearings on the state of the subway system, which is something they have refused to do. The sad truth is, no one quite knows why MTA capital costs are out of control. Transit experts free from the meddling of politicians must be empowered to seek solutions. After a comprehensive report is produced, MTA reforms must be implemented immediately. We are living a transportation emergency, and every day spent not reckoning with this hard truth is a day wasted.

· A Transformational Train Line

For a lot less money than a few stops on the Upper East Side, we could have a transformative train line that would start right in Bay Ridge. The “Triboro” is a viable transit line that would connect communities in South and Central Brooklyn to Queens and the Bronx because it would run for 24 miles on already existing freight line. Our subway map is outdated because it does not account for how often we travel between the outer boroughs for work and pleasure. It is radial, not circumferential, and is no longer suitable for a 21st century workforce. The Triboro would take a passenger from Bay Ridge through Midwood, Central Brooklyn, Maspeth, Astoria, and the Bronx. A dream of the Regional Plan Association, the Triboro must be made a reality — and it would only cost a little more than one billion dollars, according to expert estimates. There is no reason we can’t think big and pursue this project immediately.

· Make Our Transit System More Accessible

It is a travesty that Bay Ridge residents have suffered through months-long shutdowns of train stations for cosmetic, and ultimately meaningless, upgrades. All subway stations in Southern Brooklyn need to be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act as soon as possible. Whether it’s the Sheepshead Bay B/Q lacking an elevator or the R line discriminating against our seniors and people with disabilities, the MTA has proven it doesn’t care about a large segment of Brooklynites. Along with signal repair, building elevators must be a top priority, and taken seriously by MTA leadership. The MTA needs a “rapid repair” program for elevators to accelerate this process and ensure that it doesn’t continue to break federal law. In the meantime, we must reform the Access-a-Ride program — increasing reliability and funding — because it fails commuters every day. There must be more data produced on quality of service, a more transparent complaint process, and on-service demand. Riders should not have to book a day in advance and wait for a vehicle that never shows up.

· New and Necessary Revenue Streams

MoveNY’s congestion pricing plan is a logical solution for Southern Brooklyn’s transportation woes. It will dramatically lower tolls on the Verrazano Bridge, cut down on pollution, and keep vehicles from clogging Manhattan streets — freeing space for commuter buses we rely on to get to work. In conjunction with placing tolls on the East River bridges, state lawmakers must ensure a lockbox is created for the MTA, so all new revenue is channeled toward transit upgrades and nothing else. Trepidation over imposing new tolls is understandable because politicians have raided the MTA’s funds repeatedly. This is why the lockbox is needed. With this revenue — and the goal of freeing roadways for buses and pedestrians — crucial upgrades to our transportation system can be paid for without taking on staggering debt.

· Half-Priced MetroCards for Low-Income New Yorkers

We need to support a millionaire’s tax on everyone in the regions served by the MTA in New York State, not just New York City, and use this revenue to subsidize half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers. Our transportation system should be accessible to everyone, regardless of income. These taxes would not be onerous, particularly in New York City. Our current RPTT (Real Property Transfer Tax) for residential transactions is 1 percent under $500,000 and 1.425 percent over $500,000, paid by the seller

Adding another one percent for transactions above $2.5 million — above the median home price, even in Manhattan — would yield real revenue that could be dedicated to transit projects. Again, this new revenue must be paired with spending reforms. One cannot exist without the other. An independent, competently-run MTA deserves more cash.

· Increase Bus Service Reliability

We know how insufficient our subways are. More bus lines must be converted to Select Bus Service with Traffic Signal Priority (TSP) to fill the glaring gaps. When possible, protected barriers must be installed for buses. Additionally, the MTA must introduce a new card that could allow for all-door boarding on all buses, and not just Select Bus Service lines. This would speed up travel times significantly. The B82, which will be converted to SBS in 2018, is a decent start — but obviously it is not enough, especially as more people travel between the outer boroughs and around Southern Brooklyn. Bus rapid transit is far cheaper than building a new train line from scratch, subsidizing ferries, or throwing down a wasteful streetcar in a flood zone. Buses are ADA-compliant, but they are horribly slow — speeding them up will mitigate the ways the MTA already discriminates against seniors and people with disabilities.

· Support Legislation to Protect Students from Dangerous Drivers

We need to back legislation to install speed-enforcement cameras in our school zones in an effort to protect our children from dangerous and speeding drivers. This is something Senator Marty Golden refused to support because he thought slowing down drivers’ commutes by a few minutes was more important than saving the lives of schoolchildren. This hits very close to home for me: a recent study found that 92 percent of drivers were speeding on a weekday afternoon outside of PS/IS 30 on the corner of 4th Ave and Ovington in my home neighborhood of Bay Ridge.

· Make it Safe to Walk and Bike in South Brooklyn

We need to make our neighborhoods more adaptable to alternative modes of transportation, including walking and biking. We must push for bike-share expansion, prioritizing dock-less bike shares in an effort to bring a responsible and equitable biking network to Southern Brooklyn. This also means pushing for more Vision Zero Complete Street Re-Designs, which have successfully reduced the number of traffic fatalities and injuries by putting the safety of pedestrians and cyclists ahead of the convenience of drivers. There are far too many pedestrian deaths in Southern Brooklyn, and too many roadways that are perilous for children, seniors, and people with disabilities. “Road diets” (adding wider medians, curb bulbouts, and bike lanes where sensible) are appropriate throughout our neighborhoods, particularly on roads where drivers routinely flout the speed limit. These proposals are not about attacking those who own cars — they are about an equitable sharing of the streetscape.

· End Truck Traffic

We must cut down on the absurd amount of truck traffic in Southern Brooklyn. Large trucks are responsible for a tremendous amount of congestion and air pollution and are a safety hazard to pedestrians, bicyclists, and other car drivers. We can review the way we coordinate shipments, in part, by exploring possible toll pricing changes at major crossings depending on the time of day. We can and will find a way to make sure our businesses receive their goods on time while reducing double parking and making South Brooklyn’s streets safer. More frequent night delivery should be considered, though weighed with the noise trucks might generate as residents try to sleep.

Why I’m Running for Office

I never liked politics much growing up. I was obsessed with baseball and, later on, literature. I spent a long time wondering why anyone would waste their time thinking too much about politics. I didn’t join a Democratic club in college or canvass for extra cash. Back then, I couldn’t tell you anything about the state legislature. I assumed anyone who ran for office was disturbed, egomaniacal, or just badly needed a hobby.

I jumped into journalism because I loved writing and wanted to make a living off my words. I am writer — first and always. I am a journalist, too. Nothing about me will change after today. I will be writing words and pissing people off. I won’t stop writing columns. Holding this political class — too often milquetoast and spineless — accountable is what I do and will continue to do.

But I’m going to be trying something profoundly new. I will be running for a State Senate seat next year in the Brooklyn district I grew up in, which spans the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Marine Park, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and parts of Midwood. The general election is in November 2018, the primary a couple months before.

I’m not going to tell you I’ve spent a lifetime dreaming of public service, dutifully working on the staffs of elected officials, pining for this day. You aren’t going to hear about how I founded political clubs, earned merit badges, or joined a community board as a teenager.

You will hear about issues. Our healthcare system is predatory and inhumane. Our subway system is crumbling and our buses are inadequate. Our tenant protections are repeatedly gutted. Our political process is horrifically dysfunctional. Our Brooklyn public schools are terribly underfunded. The opioid crisis, which has received far too little attention in southern Brooklyn, must be treated like the medical emergency it is — people with addictions must be treated, not criminalized.

If you’ve read my columns in the Village Voicethe GuardianGothamist or any of the other outlets I’ve written for, you can imagine what this campaign will be about. My values have been laid bare and will guide everything I do. What I’m finding is, you can only try to hold the system accountable for so long from the outside. Sometimes, you have to break in and do it from the inside.

I know how to hold power to account. I understand why politicians do what they do, and why they fail. I know why most of them are cowardly.

I’ve lived in the neighborhood of Bay Ridge just about my entire life, but that’s not the point. This campaign won’t be about me reading my resume off a piece of paper. This campaign will be about telling the truth. I will say what others are afraid to say — or can’t. I will fight for the issues that matter. I will stand up to anyone who tries to screw the people of New York City. Unlike just about everyone else elected to office in this city and state, I don’t peddle bullshit.

I promise you, this will be a very different kind of campaign. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Republican-controlled State Senate have no answers, only a myopic defense of the status quo. The Independent Democratic Conference must be chased from power. I won’t be afraid to say any of these things.

Obamacare is an imperfect creation that must give way to single-payer, universal healthcare. The State Assembly has repeatedly passed a bill to create a single-payer healthcare system in New York. Not surprisingly, a State Senate run by Republicans and the IDC has failed to bring the bill up for a vote.

Healthcare, like police protection and sanitation, is something any rational and moral government should provide for all its people, regardless of income or well-being. We need to be free from predatory insurance companies. This campaign, above just about everything else, will be about bringing universal healthcare to New York State.

And we need other obvious reforms, like the state government assuming the $5.4 billion in Medicaid costs New York City unfairly pays for. New York is the only state in the nation that forces local governments to pay healthcare costs normally taken care of by the state and federal governments. With these savings, we can lower property taxes or pay for programs we really need.

My state senator, a Donald Trump-loving Republican, has stood idly by as Cuomo’s MTA fails everyone in southwest Brooklyn and across the city. Delays have reached crippling levels. The very future of the city is at stake. Rather than stand up to the governor, my state senator — like most politicians in this city, in both parties — has taken the coward’s way out, doing nothing for straphangers who pay escalating fares for service that is nothing short of catastrophic.

Few politicians are taking our transit emergency seriously. The MTA needs a real lockbox so our misguided governor doesn’t keep raiding its funds. The MTA needs a dedicated revenue stream through a new and permanent tax on millionaires in the regions served by mass transit, as well as cash raised from the closure of the carried interest loophole. Other options should be on the table, too, including Move NY. The MTA needs to invest the lion’s share of its resources in upgrading a signaling network that predates World War II — and our gutless political class needs to hold the MTA to account.

No more stupid, wasteful projects. No more spending on cosmetic upgrades as our trains tumble off the tracks. No more bridge lights. No more toys in front of the tunnels.

Neither the Senate nor Assembly has held a hearing dedicated to the state of our subway system. My senator has been absolutely silent. We need hearings and audits to uncover how the MTA spends far more on construction costs than just about any transportation agency in the world. No new revenue should come without reform to the MTA’s spending practices. That much is obvious.

We need to be thinking about a future built around public transportation and, as much as I like driving my car, away from polluting automobiles. We need to cut down on congestion and protect the lives of pedestrians. After signal upgrades and spending reforms, we must think big. A train line from Bay Ridge to Queens to the Bronx. A train line to Kings Plaza. Significant expansions of bus rapid transit, not streetcar boondoggles.

Going hand-in-hand with our transportation future is resiliency. Brooklyn is woefully under-prepared for the next superstorm, the next hurricane. The shoreline of the 22nd District, particularly in Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach, and Sheepshead Bay, has no serious buffering against future storm surges. The lack of initiative and imagination from my state senator is disturbing, to say the least.

As a lifelong Brooklynite, I will be committed to returning as much power to the city as humanely possible. I will fight for a repeal of the Urstadt Law so we can greatly expand the rent stabilization and rent control programs without the approval of right-wing legislators from Oneonta and Plattsburgh. We must place a hard cap on the rents tenants everywhere can be charged, and strictly regulate how quickly landlords can hike them. We must stop the victimization of tenants.

My state senator could care less about getting rid of political corruption. The epidemic must end, and it will be up to the state legislature to change our awful laws — not just grandstanding prosecutors. State lawmakers must be banned from taking outside income. Donation limits are far too high and the LLC loophole must be closed. We need same-day registration, early voting, and nonpartisan elections to encourage voter participation in New York, which lags behind most states in America. We need full public financing of elections, and a ban on non-campaigncampaign expending.

New York’s retrograde criminal justice system must be fixed on the state level. Our discovery laws punish innocent defendants and cash bail criminalizes poverty. Corrupt, racist parole boards enabled by Senate Republican leadership keep people who shouldn’t be there behind bars.

I’m running, as you can probably guess, as a Democrat, but I’m new to the party and don’t have any particular affinity for its leadership. I don’t revere the people who’ve worked in the establishment for decades and accomplished little other than making nice livings for themselves. I’m an actual progressive — the word itself is too anodyne to me, but I’ll go with it for now — and I’m not beholden to any power brokers. I’m not going to talk in platitudes or feed you tired talking points.

What you’ll find is that the issues I’m talking about in this campaign reflect the arguments I’ve made in my reporting and my columns. I haven’t been shy about telling you what I believe in. You know where I stand. Just because I’m running for office doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing. It’s what I do, and what matters to me. If lawyers and billionaire businessmen get to campaign for what they believe in, why can’t a journalist?

As a journalist who writes about politics, I hope to shine a light on this opaque process for my readers. What the hell is it like to run for office, anyway? What is it that the candidates never tell you? Political journalists write about politics, but can only pretend to understand so much.

And let’s be real — too many politicians are afraid of taking risks or having a shred of personality. I promise I won’t put you to sleep. I can’t say the 22nd Senate District should be the 51st state — maybe I should? — but you have permission to put me out of my misery if I start mumbling about “prosperity and progress” and do that thing where politicians don’t answer your question, just repeat a talking point a little louder.

This next part is never easy — and not something I’ve done before — but if you want to support me, please consider donating to my campaign. It goes without saying that the real estate lobby, insurance companies, dying political machines, and hedge funders won’t be plying me with gobs of cash anytime soon.

I’m not friends with the ultra-rich. I’ll need money from real people. To be honest, I’ll need to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to compete with the Republican incumbent. I know how the game works. I’d also rather not call up that dude I barely knew in high school to shake him down for $500 because LinkedIn says he’s a financial analyst. That’s not a fun way to spend the day.

If you feel so motivated, pitching in $10 or $20 or even more can go a long way. Anyone who wants to get involved, email Or just tweet me.