Knows us. Fights for us. ALL of us.

NYC Proposals: Vote YES on 1, NO on 2 & 3

Polls are open in NYC this Tuesday, November 6, from 6:00 AM to 9:00 P.M.
In NYC, you can find your poll site (and a sample ballot) at
Elsewhere, you can find it at


As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Tuesday is Election Day, and perhaps the most important one in several generations.  Democrats are on the verge of taking back at least one house of Congress and providing an important check on our extremely dangerous president.  Locally, Democrats are poised to win the N.Y. State Senate – and give us an opportunity to protect tenants, workers, patients, students, and families as we have never done before.  I encourage everyone to vote for Democratic candidates in every race on their ballot.


Less publicized, NYC residents will also vote on three amendments to our charter.  I will be voting YES on Proposal 1 and NO on Proposals 2 and 3. 

Before going into why, I want to remind you that you must physically turn your ballot over to vote on these important proposals.  The Ballot Proposals are on the other side of the page from the candidates for office.


YES on Proposal 1: Campaign Finance Reform

NYC already has a pretty good campaign finance system. It is vastly better than the State and Federal systems.  This proposal expands and improves it.  Currently, small dollar contributions (up to $175) are matched at a rate of 6 to 1.  These “matching funds” can be up to about 55% of the total amount a campaign can raise.  This proposal would increase the ratio to 8 to 1 and allow up to 75% of campaign funds to come from matching.  It would also lower the maximum individual contributions, making it significantly harder for landlords or other moneyed interests to buy influence.  Proposal 1 deserves your support.


NO on Proposal 2: Civic Engagement Commission

Who doesn’t like civic engagement, right?  The trouble is, this creates a mayoral appointed commission with little clarity on its mission.  It appears to be a ploy to create additional patronage and strengthen our already powerful mayor at the expense of community boards, City Council Members and other community engagement mechanisms.  This ill-conceived and fuzzy commission does not rise to the level of a Charter Amendment.

NO on Proposal 3:
Community Board Term Limits

Proposal puts term limits on community board members. In general, I support term limits. But Community Boards have no actual power. The only real influence they do have is in their ability to slow down developers. The ones who know how to use that to get concessions for the community are often the long-timers, and I see no benefit in forcing them out. Institutional memory is also vital when developers or other businesses try to renege on promises made in the past.  Generally, it is the longer-serving CB members who catch these tricks. Furthermore, CB members are all appointed by City Council Members and Borough Presidents.  Those offices are already term limited, and each new office holder tries to bring their own vision by changing the make-up of the Community Board.  If a long-term member is a problem, a Council Member or Borough President can always decline to reappoint them.

I hope you have found this helpful.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions, and of course, don’t forget to vote!

Reformers Win Big at County Committee

It is a new day for Manhattan’s Democratic Party.

In 2017, along with progressive reformers around Manhattan, we embarked on a program to reform and democratize the New York County Democratic Committee.  Last night we won an unprecedented victory for the reform movement.

Over 500 County Committee Members turned out and passed a sweeping slate of 25 important reforms.  These reforms represent a huge step forward for Manhattan’s Democratic Party and show the rising influence of the party’s progressive, reform bloc.  They will increase the transparency, accountability, and grassroots spirit of the Democratic Party.

Some highlights of the reforms passed are:

  • Eliminating the County Leader’s ability to unilaterally fill intercounty district vacancies, and returning the decision-making power directly to grass roots County Committee members (Fixing a problem I know all too well);
  • Creating a permanent and independent ethics committee with the authority to hear ethics-related complaints against County officials;
  • Eliminating procedural barriers to County Committee members introducing new measures and reforms;
  • Ensuring the Democratic and community-based character of the judicial nomination process;
  • Increasing the amount of notice for all County Committee meetings, and notifying members via email in addition to regular mail;
  • Letting constituents know who represents them on the County Committee by publishing the full membership list online;

Of the reforms we proposed at last year’s famously contentious meeting, all but one were passed unanimously last night.  One, a ban on lobbyists in party leadership, was not voted on last night.  Working with the County Leadership, we developed a compromise version which would have established the principle while exempting the current leadership out of respect for current democratic processes.  However, procedural hurdles prevented a vote on the measure last night.  Fortunately, the other reforms passed will make it much easier to bring the issue to the floor next year.

You can see a summary of the new rules (including the rule not passed) at, or the full rules and text at

With that out of the way, the most urgent need facing us is taking back the U.S. House and the N.Y. State Senate next week.  I’ll be volunteering as much as I can this week.  You can find some great opportunities week at sign up to help out at, and Please join us.  Thank you.

In Solidarity,





VOTE - NYS Primary Voter Guide 2018

Tomorrow, Thursday, September 13th is Primary Day in New York State.  For 85% of New Yorkers, primary day is which your vote counts most.  Most of our districts are so partisan that the other party doesn’t even run candidates many years, so the “real election” is the primary.  Here are my endorsements in a few selected races for the Democratic Primary.  They are necessarily brief, and I have left out many important races.  Please feel free to reply with any questions.

Polls will be open on Thursday, September 13th from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Find your poll site and sample ballot at:

Governor: CYNTHIA NIXON. See my full endorsement at

Lt. Governor: JUMAANE WILLIAMS. See my full endorsement at

Civil Court, Manhattan Dist. 2 (East Village, Lower East Side, Chinatown, SoHo, NoHo, Little Italy, parts of the Village): ROBERT ROSENTHAL.  See my full endorsement at

State Committee, 65th AD (Lower Manhattan): CHRISTOPHER MARTE. See my full endorsement at

State Assembly, AD74 (East Side of Manhattan from Delancey to 42nd St.): HARVEY EPSTEIN. - Harvey has been one of New York tenants’ most effective champions as long as I’ve known him. In courtrooms, the Rent Guidelines Board, Tenant Association meetings, and lobbying in Albany Harvey has fought and won battle after battle for our neighbors. He’s been there for rent stabilized tenants, NYCHA tenants, and cooperators. Harvey has policy depth and intimate knowledge of East Side neighborhoods, and progressive values are in his bones.

State Senate:  #NOIDCNY - For most of my life, the New York State Senate has been controlled by Republicans.  This has been the key proximate reason why New York has not lived up to our potential as a true progressive state.  In the last 8 years, as New York has become ever more Democratic, this disconnect has become harder to maintain.  There’s a lot of blame to go around for this, including on our Governor and Assembly Democrats who chose to allow the GOP to gerrymander the State Senate in return for protecting themselves from primary challengers.

But a key factor has been a group of nine Democratic State Senators who have chosen to hand power to the Republicans in return for increased staff budgets and personal pay bumps.  You may have heard them referred to as the “Trump Democrats”.  Eight of these, in the so-called “Independent Democratic Conference” have recently been cowed into returning to the Democratic caucus.  But they have promised this before, and are fundamentally not to be trusted.  Every one of the nine deserves to be voted out tomorrow.  Fortunately, we have fielded a fantastic collection of candidates to oppose them.  They vary from brilliant young organizers new to politics, to longtime leaders and elected officials who blazed trails for underserved communities.  Brevity prohibits description here, but you can learn about them all at:

Please vote for these candidates for State Senate:
SD 11: JOHN LIU  (Whitestone, Bayside, College Point, Flushing):
SD 13: JESSICA RAMOS  (Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, parts of Woodside & Astoria)
SD 17:  BLAKE MORRIS  (Midwood, Flatbush, Borough Park, Kensington, Sunset Park, Madison & Bensonhurst)
SD 20: ZELLNOR MYRIE  (Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, South Slope, Sunset Park)
SD 23: JASMINE ROBINSON (North & East Shores Of Staten Island, Parts of Brooklyn, including Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, Sunset Park)
SD 31: ROBERT JACKSON (Washington Heights , Hamilton Heights, West Harlem, Inwood, Morningside Heights, Parts of the Upper West Side, and a random little part of Chelsea – see gerrymandering above)
SD 34: ALESSANDRA BIAGGI (Parts of the Bronx, Pelham, and Mount Vernon)
SD 38: JULIE GOLDBERG (Rockland County and parts of Westchester)
SD 53: RACHEL MAY (Most of Syracuse, Madison County and parts Of Oneida and Onondaga Counties)

State Committee AD 76 (Upper East Side, Yorkville, Lenox Hill, and Roosevelt Island): ADAM ROBERTS and LAUREN TRAPANOTTO.  Two brilliant, dynamic young leaders.  They will bring progressive values, reform and fresh air to a State Committee that desperately needs it.

Civil Court Brooklyn (All of Bkln): LOREN BAILY and INGRID JOSEPH: Two qualified, incumbent Civil Court judges being challenged by candidates who were not approved by screening panels, and put up by a group of consultants trying to shake down judges for money.  Reelect Baily and Joseph.

State Committee AD 44 (Windsor Terrace, Kensington, most of Park Slope, parts of Flatbush and Ditmas Park): DOUG SCHNEIDER.  Doug is a well-known progressive leader in Brooklyn, and an all-around mensh.  The Brooklyn Democratic Party will be a better place for his election.

State Committee AD 48 (Boro Park and parts of Flatbush): DAVID SCHWARTZ.  David has been a brave and kind voice for progressive, reform, and tolerant values in Boro Park and Flatbush, within the Orthodox Jewish community, and in the Brooklyn Democratic Party.  He richly deserves your vote.

State Committee AD 51 (Sunset Park, Red Hook, Gowanus, South Slope, and parts of Bay Ridge): GENESIS AQUINO.  Aquino is a housing advocate and long term Sunset Park resident. She will also be a breath of fresh air for the Brooklyn Democratic Party

So there you have my long, but by no means exhaustive list.  I hope you’ve found it helpful. Also, I know I’ve been sending a lot of these.  I promise this will be last email blast for a while (barring major emergencies, etc).   Thanks for sticking with me.

Polls will be open tomorrow, Thursday, September 13th from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Find your poll site and sample ballot at:

In Solidarity,

View this email online at:

Christopher Marte for State Committee

Please join me in voting for Christopher Marte for State Committee in the Democratic Primary on Thursday (yes, Thursday), September 13th.

Christopher Marte is the ideal candidate to represent Lower Manhattan’s Democrats. I’ve seen Marte, born and raised in the Lower East Side, build a coalition of support from across our diverse District.  He has been a champion of preserving parkland and open space in Little Italy, used his fluent Mandarin Chinese to organize tenants in Chinatown, founded an alliance for small businesses from Financial District to the Lower East Side.

Nationally, Marte has helped build the Arena, a training platform for dozens of young, progressive Democratic candidates responding to Donald Trump.

And unlike other candidates, Marte hasn’t taken a dollar from real estate groups or Albany PACs.  His independence, deep roots in our community, and proven track record of getting results are why Christopher Marte has been endorsed by the Downtown Independent Democrats, the Grand Street Democrats, the Lower East Side Democrats, and the Asian-American Democratic Club.

I do not know Christopher’s opponent well, as he only moved to Lower Manhattan recently. He currently works as a staffer for the NYS Assembly Speaker, and prior to that was an Albany lobbyist. I have seen no evidence that he could or would prioritize the needs of our neighborhood over the power brokers he works for.

Christopher Marte is the clear and only choice for progressive and reform minded Lower Manhattan Democrats. Please join me in electing him next week. Polls will be open on Thursday, September 13th from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Find your poll site at: 


P.S. Please consider volunteering for or contributing to Christopher Matre’s campaign at: 

Robert Rosenthal for Civil Court - Vote. Sept. 13

It is with great pride and pleasure that I ask you to join me in voting for Robert Rosenthal for Civil Court in the Democratic Primary next Thursday (yes, Thursday), September 13th.

As we have seen many times in the past two years, an honest judiciary that shares our progressive values is more important than ever. This is not just true at the Federal level, but also at State courts. NY judges are preventing child deportations, protecting tenants and more every day.

Robert Rosenthal is one of the finest candidates for the court I have ever seen. A brilliant attorney, Rosenthal is the only candidate in the race ever to have been found “Most Highly Qualified” by the Independent Screening Panel. 

Robert has been fighting on behalf of marginalized people for 27 years.  His experience representing clients began at the Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic, representing indigent elderly and disabled people. Throughout his career, Robert has continued to represent and protect members of our society who have been unfairly pushed aside; no matter who they are, what they look like, or what they have – or don’t have. Robert’s work is driven by his deep-seated belief in justice, and the right to due process and a fair trial.

Robert also knows our neighborhood well. He’s lived in Lower Manhattan for over 20 years, and has been deeply engaged in many of our neighborhoods’ struggles. That’s why Robert has been endorsed by local leaders including Carlina Rivera, Harvey Epstein, Yuh-Line Niou, Gale Brewer, Nydia Velazquez, Brad Hoylman and many others. Robert has also been endorsed by every local Democratic organization Lower Manhattan, including the Downtown Independent Democrats, CoDA, Grand Street Democrats, Lower East Side Democrats, United Democratic Organization, Village Independent Democrats, and the Village Reform Democratic Club. I know of no other candidate who has received such a unanimous vote of support from local Democratic activists.

Robert’s opponent in this race is a very well-funded corporate lawyer with no ties to Lower Manhattan, who has never been found qualified to serve by a screening panel. But money talks, and every vote will count on Thursday.

One final personal note.  I have known Robert Rosenthal for about six years.  In that time, he has become a friend and a role model. Robert has deep compassion and respect for every person he meets, and every person he has not met.  He knows in his bones how much the legal system means to the lives of the people and families brought into it.  And he has a deep, abiding, love of New York City.  If you share my values at all, I assure you that Robert Rosenthal will make you proud as a Civil Court Judge.  

Polls will be open on Thursday, September 13th from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Find your poll site at: Please join me there in voting for Robert Rosenthal for Civil Court.

Thank you,


For more information on Robert Rosenthal, visit:

Jumaane Williams for Lieutenant Governor - Vote Sept. 13

It is with great pride and pleasure that I ask you to join me in voting for Jumaane Williams for Lieutenant Governor in the Democratic Primary on Thursday (yes, Thursday), September 13th.

Jumaane is as legitimate a progressive leader as you will find in New York.  Currently a NY City Council member, Jumaane has been a smart legislator and a compelling, active voice for justice in NYC.  I first got to know him well when we stood togther at Occupy Wall Street calling for real economic justice in the wake of the financial collapse.  He is one of New York’s leading voices on criminal justice reform and ending the culture of mass incarceration. 

Prior to serving in the NYC Council, Jumaane Williams was a tenant organizer in Brooklyn – where he helped save thousands of New York families from eviction.  Today, he is bringing his clarion call statewide as the most dynamic and progressive candidate for NY Lieutenant Governor in my lifetime.

I will not dedicate much time to Jumaane’s opponent.  Suffice to say, that she briefly served in Congress as one of the most right-wing Democrats in Washington.  She is not the right choice.

Jumaane Williams is the clear and only choice for progressive and reform minded Democrats in New York State.  The office of Lt. Governor has limited formal powers, but it can be a powerful megaphone and tool to restrain corruption in Albany.  New York will be a better place for Jumanne’s voice in that megaphone.

Polls will be open on Thursday, September 13th from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.  Find your poll site at:


P.S. Please consider volunteering for or contributing to Jumaane Williams campaign at:


Cynthia Nixon for Governor - Vote Sept. 13



At this vital time for our country, progressive leadership at the state level has never been so important.  New York, with one of the country’s most progressive electorates, is perfectly situated to lead this resistance.  Yet we have utterly failed to do so.  More than that, our state government is so enraptured to corrupt real estate money, that we are failing to deliver basic services.

That is why I ask you to join me in voting for Cynthia Nixon for Governor in the Democratic Primary on Thursday (yes, Thursday), September 13th. 

Nixon shares our values and a bold, progressive vision for New York.  She has spoken in clear, compelling terms about the issues that matter.  Cynthia Nixon has called for universal rent regulation for New York tenants, drivers’ licenses and integration for our undocumented neighbors, Medicare for All in NYS (called the New York Health Act), legalization of marijuana, real support for New York’s public schools, and fully funding the significant capital investment needed for a functioning MTA.  She has not shied away from taxing millionaires to pay for these plans, or other “difficult” questions about her vision.  This is the New York we can be, and we deserve.

Many people I’ve spoken to have concerns about Nixon’s lack of relevant government experience.  These concerns have merit.  She has been an activist and engaged in New York civic life for many years.  But there is no doubt that in a strict comparison of résumés, Nixon has less experience than Andrew Cuomo.  But this is not the only question.  There is also the question of how each candidate would apply their experience.

Andrew Cuomo is extremely skilled at the art of NY governance.  But he uses that skill to harm poor people.  I will take a novice who is with workers, tenants, patients, immigrants, and straphangers over an expert at opposing us any day of the week.

Until Nixon announced, Cuomo was the most conservative Democratic governor in the country. He's taken over $50 million in landlord and banker money (including tens-of-thousands from Donald Trump). He has done everything in his power to keep a Republican State Senate. He has blocked drug and criminal justice reform, tenant rights, millionaire taxes, the NY Health Act, attacked worker pensions and more.  Virtually every year, he “sweeps” hundreds of millions of dollars out of dedication mass transit funding to the general fund.

Andrew Cuomo’s consistent use of the office to serve the wealthiest has hurt working and middle class New Yorkers, earning him the nickname “Governor 1%”.  Equally disappointing, he has become the chief enabler of the pay-to-play culture of corruption that dominates Albany, with several of Cuomo's closest aides and allies convicted of corruption.

Simply put, on economic, housing, and justice issues, Andrew Cuomo has been our enemy – and a very effective one.  He has also, to be fair, used his skills for good.  He notably showed leadership on marriage equality and gun control.  But this is New York State, and it is not 1992.  “Progressive on social issues and conservative on economics” is neither good politics nor good policy.  New York State – and the Democratic Party - can, and must, do better.

Since Nixon announced, Cuomo has moved to the left on many of these issues.  But he makes election promises every four years, and forgets them immediately afterwards.  We must be sure Cuomo hears the voice of New York’s progressive majority louder than his real estate donors and corrupt cronies.  Vote Cynthia Nixon on Thursday, September 13th. 


Thank you


Thank you for standing with me throughout this campaign.  I cannot describe what a personal and professional honor it has been to have your support.  Every volunteer making calls or knocking on doors, every contribution, every signature on a “Dear Neighbor” letter humbled, inspired, and motivated me.

And they continue to do so.  We did not win on Tuesday, but I have never believed that individuals or individual elections are what bring real change.  There is no doubt in my mind that our campaign has strengthened the progressive and reform movements in Lower Manhattan and New York State, nor that we will continue to fight.  In particular, I am hopeful because of the incredible team of young field organizers we trained this year.  I know that each of them will contribute mightily to the cause of justice for many years to come.

The first order of business is to congratulate Yuh-Line Niou on an excellently run campaign.  I look forward to working with her on behalf of our beloved neighborhoods.  I also want to congratulate Assembly Member Cancel, Don Lee, Gigi Li, and Jenifer Rajkumar on strong campaigns.  The level of grassroots engagement in Lower Manhattan this year was truly remarkable.  I know that they, too, will be partners for a stronger community.

The next steps are more personal to each of us.  But I’d like to propose a few ways to carry on in the short term:

1) Elect progressive Democrats like Zephyr Teachout to Congress.  Get involved with Zephyr’s campaign at:

2) Elect a Democratic State Senate in New York.  Little of our progressive vision for our state can be accomplished without it.  One place to start is to support a champion like Sara Niccoli at

3) Get involved in grassroots action in NYS.  I recommend joining Citizen Action of New York at  Citizen Action doesn’t just talk.  They organize, lobby, and campaign for justice.  I am proud to be a member, and I encourage you to join me.

I’ll be on an overdue vacation for the next two weeks, but come October, I assure you I’ll be back in the fight – right alongside you.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on just what that is.  For now, thank you for all that you have done, and all that you will do.  

With gratitude and solidarity,




BREAKING: New York's Teachers Endorse Paul Newell for Assembly

I am beyond humbled to have received the endorsement of New York State United Teachers and the United Federation of Teachers in our campaign for change in Lower Manhattan.  Education has been under siege for way too long.  This is one of those issues where there's a clear-cut right and wrong, and too many politicians have been doing the wrong thing for decades.

Please join us over the next 17 days as we bring our campaign for quality schools to Lower Manhattan voters.  Sign up to volunteer at, or come by our office at 260 East Broadway, Suite 2 anytime.

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Never Again

Last Saturday, on 79th Street in Queens, a compassionate and beloved Imam, Maulama Akonjee, was walking home from Saturday prayers with his friend Thara Uddin. Both were respected members of their community in Queens. Imam Akonjee was to leave in ten days for the wedding of his son in Bangladesh. At 1:55PM, a lone gunman came up and shot the two friends point-blank in the back of the head, killing them both

Yesterday, Jews marked the holiday of Tisha b’Av, a day of reflection and mourning for countless times throughout history that Jews were the targets of hatred and violence. So many horrible events are marked by this day, the destruction of the Second Temple all the way up through Krystallnacht, the “night of broken glass” in which Nazi-orchestrated mobs of Germans beat up Jews, dragged them from their homes and businesses, broke windows and set Jewish buildings on fire.

When the Holocaust ended in 1945, we declared as a people and as a world, “never again.” The world has broken this promise many times: in the Sudan, in Yugoslavia, in the USSR and in China, just to name the most prominent examples. Politicians in those countries sought power by scapegoating ethnic and religious minorities. They incited violence, which turned into mass slaughter.

Too often, the inciters got off scot-free. Slobodan Milosevic never admitted wrongdoing for the soldiers and civilians killed on his watch; he died awaiting trial. His accomplices mostly survived, and several of them recently endorsed Donald Trump for president. It sounds like a sick joke. But these are the times we live in.

In our city last Saturday, two lives were taken by a political force that feeds off these same dark angels of human nature. Who pulled the trigger is, of course, important. But when politicians incite violence, when hatred is approved and encouraged at the top, the violence becomes inevitable.

As we remember Tisha b’Av, I urgently call on my fellow Jews, all Christians, Hindus, Muslims and those of other faiths and no faith, to recognize that in the threat we now face, the particulars of who is targeted do not matter. When we forget that we said never again, it happens again. What happens to our neighbor today happens to us tomorrow.

Humanity is under direct, immediate attack. It is on all of us to push back hard when our elected officials forget the lessons of the times we’ve seen this before.

The killing of two of our brothers last night is a loud alarm that we all need to hear and respond to. To all of my Muslims neighbors in Lower Manhattan, and throughout NYC and this country: please know that we are with you, and we stand ready to offer whatever support and assistance you need. We see where this is going and, while we cannot feel your personal pain and loss, we know it too well.

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