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A RESIDENT OF CHELSEA: As a resident of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen for the past 28 years, my unique background as a small business owner, community activist, figure skating coach and lawyer — outside of the established political machine — make me the strongest candidate for City Council in 2021. Not only do I lead with my heart, I choose the best policies that lead to genuine reform. Also, I have a coronavirus recovery economic agenda for tenants and small businesses to give them rent relief so they will survive and save our city.
SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: As a former small business owner of a coffee shop, I started Community Control of Land Use to educate and organize small business owners, pushing for the original Small Business Jobs Survival Act, legislation that would give owners a long-term affordable and renewable lease by law — which is the solution to the crisis of small business closures pre-pandemic. City Hall Insiders told me my small but fierce campaign in 2017 pressured Speaker Corey Johnson to give the SBJSA a public hearing, which unfortunately led nowhere.
But I am still fighting to save small businesses with the SBJSA, in addition to vouchers that would provide substantial rent relief. Acceptance of the voucher would then be the new legally-regulated rent which would then reset market rents. In addition, I have organized NYCHA tenants in our district against RAD, Rental Assistance Demonstration, and other privatization schemes that increase rents and evict tenants.
FIGURE SKATING COACH: As a figure skating coach at Chelsea Piers, I have spent 28 years teaching children the joy, skill and discipline of figure skating. Skating coaches not only teach their students how to skate, they instill in children life lessons on hard work, teamwork, camaraderie and how to fully realize their dreams. I was also one of the primary organizers in the New York Skating Coaches Collective campaign to collectively organize figure skating coaches against being misclassified as employees. Additionally, I started the program: NYCHA Kids Skate!– a pro bono program created to teach children living in public housing near Sky Rink how to skate.
FIGHTING FOR MY COMMUNITY: Whether I am teaching my skating students, or fighting for progressive legislation, I have always fought for my community. All of my experiences have shaped my drive to make all New York communities more just and equitable. I want to keep New Yorkers in their homes, keep small businesses in their spaces so people have jobs to go back to after the pandemic, and guarantee quality healthcare to all. I am ready to put power back in the hands of the people, and fight for my community in District 3.
AN OBSERVER AND WRITER OF LOCAL POLITICS
Frequently asked to speak on the inner workings of local politics, I can be often at rallies at City Hall, the Left Forum Conference and Midtown South Community Council. My populist political voice has been published in articles and op-eds for New York Daily News, The Villager, Metro New York, Chelsea Now, Westview News, 42st Magazine and The Clinton Chronicle. I was a former reporter and editor for the New York Law Journal and The Bond Buyer.
ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHEN YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY, PUSHING THE PEOPLE’s AGENDA
FIGHTING RAD: Another accomplishment has been my advocacy for NYCHA Tenants from Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea Houses in District 3. For the past years, I have worked with tenants from these developments to stop Rental Assistance Demonstration, which is a privatization scheme that will place public housing into the hands of private developers under the guise of capital repairs. RAD has been show to increase rents and evict low income seniors, disabled and people of color. My efforts organizing tenants, getting their voices into the media, helped in stopping the demolition of 2 Fulton Houses buildings, which could have become a city-wide precedent for the demolition of public housing.
KEEP PUBLIC HOUSING PUBLIC: I have also been a vocal critic of the Mayor’s Working Group, that had operated in secret for months, violating the state’s Open Meetings Law. Moreover, I have criticized Community Board 4’s involvement in supporting RAD, especially after Federal Judge William Pauley recent decision in April 2021 that held that NYCHA tenant protections are eliminated once a development has converted over to RAD and The Blueprint.
One of the reasons why I am running is to protect POC tenants that do not have a voice in their own governance. NYCHA Tenants have been very explicit — they do not want privatization in any form, want to keep public housing public and fully-fund NYCHA with Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez’s bill that will fund NYCHA and public housing across the nation with $70 Billion dollars, but public housing needs more and I am still pushing.
NYCHA KIDS SKATE! Outside of politics, I am a US Figure Skating Double Gold Medalist and 4-time Gay Games Gold Medalist in Ice Dance. I coach the nationally-ranked bronze medalist skating team, the Sky Rink All Stars. The All Stars, consecutive US Figure Skating Showcase National Medalists from 2013 to 2019, are one of the most decorated teams in the nation. With this skill set, I also created NYCHA Kids Skate!, a pro-bono program to teach children from public housing how to skate.
IM RUNNING FOR CITY COUNCIL IN 2021 IN DISTRICT 3 AS A TRUE PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT
ORDINARY PEOPLE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IF THEIR VOICES ARE LOUD ENOUGH
I’M RUNNING FOR ELECTED OFFICE BECAUSE RELIEF ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE WITHIN REACH
RELIEF IS WITHIN REACH: If there is one thing I’ve learned from my experience as a small business owner, is that relief is always within reach, but it never materializes. We need to elect people who have the conviction and political courage to do right by the people. Speaker Johnson could have brought the SBJSA to a full-floor vote, but abdicated his responsibility. If elected, I would reintroduce the original version of the SBJSA and push for a full-floor vote. Right now, small businesses need so much more.
DON’T KICK THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD: Two-thirds of restaurants in New York State could close by the end of January, according to a CNN report. Collectively, an estimated 520,000 jobs from small businesses have been lost in New York City due to the pandemic, according to a trade group’s report. With Government inaction making the economic crisis of the pandemic worse, it shocks the conscience that elected officials refuse to implement available solutions to manage this hemorrhage. Instead, they wait for the Biden administration to come to the rescue. But kicking the can down the road is not the answer.
RENT VOUCHERS: My Coronavirus recovery plan uses rent vouchers to help tenants and small businesses ravaged by the pandemic to pay their rent, so they can stay in their spaces while we recover. Although small business have gotten a federal and state stimulus, who knows how the rollout will be, especially for minority and women-owned. We need to act now to push local lawmakers to begin to adopt aspects of my plan.
FUND NYC WITH REASONABLE CORPORATE TAX: To pay for rent vouchers and other recovery proposals, I have announced support for a 1% surcharge on corporate income taxes of companies with operations in New York City with at least 1,000 employees. Since 1% is essentially a rounding error, this is a reasonable tax that is not punitive on individuals, which would create the funds needed to pay for rent vouchers to house our neighbors, save our small business, and fund other progressive, Government policies.
THE JOURNEY TO SAVE SMALL BUSINESSES
RED EYE COFFEE THE SMALL BUSINESS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN SVAED
A LITTLE SLICE OF PARADISE IN THE BIG BAD CITY: I still have dreams about my little coffee shop, Red Eye Coffee, which was the first specialty coffee shop in the Chelsea/Clinton area in 2016. Whether it was a frothy turmeric latte, an iced Americano or a simple brewed coffee, our coffee was so good, and our baristas so talented, that people would wait in long lines out the door for our coffees. My husband, Peter, became known as a coffee guru, educating our customers about coffee, telling them stories of his travels to coffee farms near the Thailand city of Chiang Mai. But Red Eye was more than a place to get a good cup of joe, it was a community hub for everyone in the neighborhood to meet each other, share ideas, say hello, even though it was only 110 ft^2.
SMALLBIZ NEED LEGALLY-MANDATED RENT PROTECTIONS (SBJSA): It was devastating for me when Red Eye shut its doors. Red Eye was forced to close because our landlord refused to give us a new lease unless we forked over an additional $25,000 in cash, which plain and simple, was extortion. Then he only wanted to give us a 6 month lease, with a 3 month security deposit that he could “keep in his car,” instead of an escrow account. It was such outrageous behavior, and I sought help from anyone I could think of: the community board, elected officials, the city’s Small Business Services, and the Commercial Lease Assistance Program. But no one could help. What would help? The SBJSA.
MY BUSINESS AS WELL AS OTHER SMALL BUSINESSES COULD’VE BEEN SAVED
All our favorite small businesses never had to close if Speaker Corey Johnson would’ve done one thing: bring the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (“SBJSA”) to a full-floor vote. With a majority of support in the Council, there was an excellent chance that the bill would have passed. Before the pandemic, this would have stopped the crisis of small business closures because landlords would have been barred from hiking up the rents during the lease renewal process. Instead, the SBJSA would have given all city small businesses a long-term affordable lease with the right to renew. This would have saved Red Eye Coffee. But Speaker Johnson never came through.
If you listen closely to the usual rhetoric, elected officials are always talking about small businesses being the backbone of the city’s economy, one of the main creators of jobs, as well as revenue sources for the city. With all the good that they bring, you would think the city would put forth sound government policy to protect small businesses. But with real estate money running through the Mayor and City Council campaign coffers, decisions are being made to protect landlord profits and maintain the unequal playing field that gives landlords.