Twelve years ago, as a college senior, I had the opportunity to begin my career in government as an intern for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. I was given a chance to engage in impactful work, giving the Assemblyman an idea that I had on legislation, then seeing that idea blossom. I took the lead on legislation that increased safety for consumers by placing nicotine-laced water under the same strong regulations that cigarettes are held under. I had the pleasure of seeing that bill passed and becoming law. I have a certificate of the law as a reminder of what government can do when we fight together to protect our constituents. After graduating from CUNY School of Law– where I served as the Social Action Chair for the Black Law Students Association and was elected by my graduating class as the class speaker, I successfully passed the bar on my first attempt, practiced law briefly, then returned to my first love, public service. I have come full circle, now working for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
This past January, I was back in Albany for the Governor’s Annual State Of The State address, and as I walked through the Capitol, I thought back on twelve years ago. What an opportunity I was given! I was optimistic that it would one day lead to my own career in government, with an opportunity to make change – to help others. My optimism and my efforts have guided me to today, where I will have an opportunity to take on a different challenge – to be the next State Senator of the 36th Senatorial District in the New York State Senate.
I am a homegrown candidate, with a great understanding of the issues my neighbors face- and I have the energy, desire and skill set to address these issues, and bring about change. As a graduate of the Community and Economic Development clinic of CUNY Law, I am no stranger to the fight for social and economic justice. I believe that increased access to healthy food, giving people greater and affordable access to quality health care, and revamping education to focus on the whole child as opposed to simply teaching to a test will make a difference in our community. Opportunity is what our children need. We must revamp the way we look at education- we must focus on the whole child and take a deeper look at the external factors our children face. All of our children need the tools to succeed, and it is our job to give them these tools. We should be providing academic, social, and emotional assistance to students from early childhood through graduation and college enrollment. We need greater funding for music, sports, the arts and humanities to create a well-rounded individual. We must give our children access to greater gifted and talented programs, creating greater opportunity for access to NYC's finest high schools.
We must invest in our communities – to help create a path to a better quality of life, wealth and prosperity. I want to be a part of the creation of new and innovative ways to govern efficiently, with compassion, and an understanding that government cannot solve all problems, but it definitely can play a key role in changing our community.
We need to prepare for the 21st century economy. In addition to providing technical skills and job training, we must ensure we are providing soft skills, such as financial literacy and credit counseling, which are vital in creating a society of individuals who will preserve wealth and build a better life for their families. We must address income inequality and we must close the wage gap and create greater opportunity for all members of our communities.
I believe a more engaged and informed community is a community that can thrive. I believe that criminal justice reform is sorely needed in this day and age of overcrowded prisons for minor crimes, unjust legal decisions and ongoing injustice. I believe that access to civil legal services should widely be made available because people need help navigating the courts that deal with family issues, landlord-tenant and property matters. We have to ensure our vibrant senior citizen population continues to thrive in our community.
I am a father, and a husband, and I understand the issues that families face on a day to day basis. I am from, and for this community. I am a leader. I believe government has the ability to transform lives and communities, and that is why I want to be your next State Senator from the 36th Senate District.