The Democratic Party Needs New Voices
The Democratic Party is in desperate need of new voices, ready to reform a status quo that does little for the people of New York City. As a first-generation Jordanian-Phillipino American who has lived in Chelsea/Hells Kitchen area for the past 28 years, Marni is ready for that task. Being a long-time resident has given her insight into the struggles of people in her district, and the high level of income inequality in District 3, a district known for its gentrification and displacement.
Although the Democratic Party seems to be moving more progressive direction, true change means that new candidates must push against a system of incumbents that favor identity politics over an economic system that works for all. As a small business owner, Marni champions the Survival Act/Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) so businesses have the right to an affordable rent, and the right to renew — the crucial rights needed to survive in their spaces.
Pass the Survival Act
Passing the Survival Act is even more imperative during the covid19 pandemic. Steps are being taken by prime sponsor Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who has recently amended the bill, hoping for an emergency vote in the Council to give relief to small businesses above 96th Street and in the 5 boroughs. Marni, however, is committed to saving ALL businesses in the city.
“While this is a good first step, there is no reason why the Survival Act shouldn’t apply to all businesses. The person who could make this happen is Speaker Johnson. And the fact that he hasn’t tells us volumes with where he stands — which is of course, with the real estate lobby,” she said. In 2017, Marni ran against Corey Johnson in the general election as an independent and analyzed his campaign contributions, of which 68% came from real estate, Wall Street, nightlife and corporate philanthropy — the hypergentrifiers of the city.
Drawing from her Occupy Wall Street roots, Marni has never been afraid to call out elected officials that say they care, while their actions refuse to push for legislation that can save small businesses. Pre-pandemic, small businesses were facing a crisis with 1200 to 1400 closing per month, with 8,000 jobs. Now, they are in an even greater crisis — with 50% of businesses estimated never to return. City Council must to something now to stave off what could be the very real death of our neighborhoods, creating an exodus of residents and businesses out of New York City.
Keep Public Housing Public and Fighting Displacement
Marni also brings her honest approach to other important issues facing the district. Often in this one-party town, there is an orchestrated campaign by elected officials, non profit organizations, political groups, community boards and local media to control the narrative — so citizens never get the real story. But the public is getting smart to these false narratives and choices put forth by real estate and monies interests.
Marni has been instrumental in combatting these falsehoods — whether it be the inferior policies of recent Council legislation or calling out elected officials for refusing to come out against RAD, Rental Assistance Demonstration, a privatization scheme that evicts vulnerable NYCHA public housing tenants in the district. Marni’s efforts — with NYCHA tenants and other city activists — pushed Mayor DeBlasio to create a Working Group for Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea Tenants in the fall of 2019 to give input about RAD — which they were against then and are now. Through social media @marni4council and @cclanduseny, editorials and protests, Marni is committed to advocating for ordinary people, to reform a system to help people who often have no voice.
We believe the Democratic Party is ready for candidates like Marni.
The current political climate shows people want real change. The protests against police brutality and racism in the streets are also directly connected with economic redress and equality of opportunity in housing and land use decisions. People want real affordable housing and rents, access to small businesses thriving in their neighborhoods, and an affordable city free from economic worry and overdevelopment — and this is achievable. Recent history has showed the community has had important wins against luxury development — Amazon HQ2, Inwood Rezoning, Mechanical Voids and court wins demanding environmental impact statements on development — and is searching for those who can lead the city in this direction that demand public approval and the community’s final say in what kind of development gets built in our neighborhoods.
Against this backdrop, Marni Halasa is running to represent District 3 in the New York City Council.