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As a long-time resident of District 40, a 35-year special needs teacher in our public schools, and a community activist, I am proud to be running to represent our neighborhood in the City Council.
I hope you can support our campaign and help me strengthen our community's voice in the City Hall.
Brooklyn is my home now. Brooklyn was the place my oldest brother chose when he moved to the USA in the 60s. He was the first one who moved to the USA. After he went to Vietnam, he came back to Brooklyn. When my family moved to the USA, my mother and other brothers and sisters also chose Brooklyn. Most of my brothers and sisters live in Tampa, Florida now. I still have a brother on Long Island and a sister in Texas. A few years after I graduated from college and graduate school and started to work as a public-school teacher, I moved back to Brooklyn. When it was time to start a family, I again chose Brooklyn. I have now lived here in Brooklyn for 30 years. I raised my son here in Brooklyn. My husband and I have lived in the same house for the last 27 years in Ditmas Park West in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn, was not always my home. I was born in Ambato, Ecuador in South America. I went to my local school Rodriguez Albornoz in Ambato. I grew up there. When I came here, I was in my late teens. I went to Midwood High School. After that, I went to SUNY College at Purchase. Living on campus was an eye-opening experience. I learned to do community organizing there. When I graduated from College I moved to NYC. I worked as a teacher for the homebound. I went back to school and became a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing. I wanted to teach and serve special needs students. I taught the deaf and hard of hearing in NYC public schools for 35 years. I was also doing community organizing all along. I was working with the community teaching English to non-English speaking adults, teaching Spanish to English speaking adults, and teaching parents to communicate with their deaf and hard of hearing children. I also helped parents organize to get better services for their children and taught parents how to interpret their children’s IEPs.
Community organizing was always a part of my life. In college I translated for non-English-speaking adults at a local hospital. I volunteered at a local hospital to read to sick children. When my son was 3 years old, we both volunteered at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I was given a science Kiosk and little kids came by and I showed them what a tree is. My son would hug the tree and say “This is a tree”. He was the youngest volunteer at the garden and given a Volunteer ID. When he was 4, we volunteered at Prospect Park picking up leaves. As he grew up and went to middle school, I was very involved in the parent association at his middle school. When he went to high school, I decided to become active with my union, the United Federation of Teachers. I became a chapter leader and defended teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing throughout the five boroughs. I insured their rights were respected and the contract was followed. I also worked in my local community library helping students with their homework. Immigrant parents were also there trying to help their children do their homework. I was able to help children from countries all over the world.
Living in Ditmas Park West in Brooklyn is a dream come true. It is a wonderful community. I have been involved in this community since I moved here. We are organized with an association and a newsletter. We meet monthly and have a number of events throughout the year: planting trees, a garage sale, a progressive dinner, a summer cocktail, a holiday party, a spring soiree, and we check on our neighbors and make sure they are doing well. By having an organized community, we have the ear of community leaders and the police who come to our meetings and make sure our voice is heard. We get things done when we need to get them done. Now that we have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic I still work with the community. I work with PIN (people in need), a community that serves Hispanic, Pakistanian, Bangladeshian, and Russian community members. I also work in the Open Streets Project with the Flatbush Development Corporation to close certain blocks to vehicles at certain times to allow young children play space where it is not available during this pandemic. I am currently the Vice President of DPW Association.
Becoming a parent was a big event in my life. I rejoiced at the arrival of my son. My husband and I were elated. We want to raise a child who is involved in the community. Today my son is a grown man who joined the army and is a Ranger. We are very proud of him.
What is my vision of my role as a NYC Council member? I see myself continuing with the community work that I have being doing. I want to bring better program to my community. Seniors needs better senior centers. Youth needs more training programs. Schools need more art, music, sports, and after school programs. Homelessness is becoming an issue in our community and needs to be resolved. I have worked in different organizations. I see myself having organizational skills and being able to work in teams to solve issues. I will bring changes for the betterment of my community.
I want to be the next NYC council member from district 40 because my district needs someone who gets things done, and bring changes to the community. As a special needs’ teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for 35 years in NYC public schools I was able to provide an education for my deaf and hard of hearing students who have many needs. I educated their parents to communicate better with their deaf children. As a chapter leader for the UFT I represented 500 teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing who serve students in all settings in the five boroughs. I represented the teachers and kept their rights intact. As a resident of my community I organized events that brought different members of the community together and made our community stronger. Today we have a newsletter. Before COVID we had a progressive dinner, a holiday event, a garage sale, a summer BBQ, a spring soiree. We meet monthly and I am the vice president of my association. As a NYC council member I will work with the community to make their needs known to the council. Together, with the community, I will work on solutions to their problems that benefit everyone. I will bring my organizational skills to get things done. The Council needs to have people like me who have worked in the community and can tackle problems.
As an educator who was in the classroom for 15 years and a travelling teacher for twenty years, I see education as number one on the list of priorities. I believe education is the ticket to a better life. I came to this country as a 17 year old immigrant. I didn’t speak English. I went to Midwood High School. I met great teachers who guided me and educated me and put me on the path to a college education. I went to college at SUNY at Purchase. Once again I met great teachers who took the time and saw a potential in me. They taught me and prepared me for the outside world and I graduated from college. Graduate school was different. You are there because you know what you want and won’t let anyone stop you. I got my degree in Deafness Education and became a teacher because I had the opportunity to get an education and I want that opportunity for everyone. I want every student who is in school to have all the opportunities I had. I want them to meet great teachers who are prepared and take their time to see the potential in their students as my teachers did with me. I want schools to have well trained and well paid teacher teachers who have the support and motivation to remain as teachers and support students like me to continue to serve their community and their city.
I believe housing is a right. Every single person living in a community should have a place to call home. We are going through very hard times. The COVID-19 pandemic shot down our communities. People have lost their jobs leaving them without an income or with less income leaving them vulnerable and sometimes on the verge of losing their homes. They deserve help. For a while workers who lost their jobs were getting a $600 boost to unemployment checks that helped them pay rent or mortgages. That ended. There are several proposals out there such as extending the eviction moratorium past September 4th. That is not a permanent solution. Once that date comes we will see massive evictions. We must prevent that. Some homeless people were put in hotels during the pandemic. Now those communities are complaining about the homeless in those communities. The homeless population continues to grow because even though there are a large number of vacancies in the city there is not enough affordable housing. The city must develop affordable housing for working people in new constructions in NYC. The City Council has the power to push for that. I will work on that
I see an increased amount of garbage in communities across Brooklyn. I have been reading the same situation is happening in Manhattan and the Bronx. Mayor De Blasio has announced major cuts to the current budget. He said he has cut $106 million from the Sanitation Department budget leaving New York with less days for garbage pickup. That has really affected the standard of living for New Yorkers. Now we walk around rats who are not afraid to be in the way. New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer had a news conference where he said that rats have increased 60% in the city. It is essential to put an end to this situation. Cleaning streets and collecting garbage must be paramount at this time, especially since we are still in the COVID-19 pandemic and we need everything clean to avoid spreading the virus. The NYC Council could emphasize in the budget the importance of allocating money to the Sanitation Department and not cutting it to serve New York better and alleviate the current situation. I will bring my community experience to the council and change the budget to get communities access to more garbage pickup.
Public transportation needs to improve drastically. People in district 40 use mass transportation mainly. We need a mass transportation system that works well. Congestion pricing won’t affect much in district district 40, because only 2% of the people in district 40 use cars to go to Manhattan. I don’t support Congestion pricing because the only thing that it does is take money out of people’s pockets. It makes it harder for people to drive to Manhattan. It doesn’t improve public transportation or make biking or walking safer.
If you want people to use mass transit instead of cars make it so good that people have no incentive to drive or own a car. Otherwise they will continue to use their cars to move around to get to where they want to go when it is easier.
The neighborhood of Ditmas Park West, like many other communities around New York City, does not want an 102-foot eye-sore building in the middle of it’s neighborhood. Community Board 14 has approved the rezoning of 1620 Cortelyou Road project with conditions, despite the community’s opposition. Unfortunately, myself and many others were unable to speak at this meeting because only board members are allowed to vote and speak on the matter.
As a candidate for City Council representing this district, I call on the other candidates for District 40 and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to stand shoulder to shoulder with the community, and me, in opposition to this development.
In my opinion, and in the opinion of many other community members who attended the meeting -- this building would be a monstrosity. Not only will it block the sunlight for other buildings around it, but this massive building would bring a serious parking-issue to the area due to the increased density of people. The apartments that would fill the building itself would be too expensive for community members to afford to live. Many of the apartments discussed would be one-bedroom apartments -- where the need for families in this community is two- and three-bedrooms apartments. Neighbors who spoke at the meeting said they themselves have already been displaced from other communities and worry that the same situation will occur in this neighborhood. Rezonings in Williamsburg occurred, for example, and as a result, rent went up.
Currently, 1620 Cortelyou Road is home to a Key Foods supermarket. While the owner claims the supermarket will stay open during construction, there is no guarantee. Due to construction that could last two years, it is uncertain if other small businesses in the area will survive. It is unclear if the laundromat, which is located on the site, will remain open even though it is crucial to the local community. Furthermore, the Cortelyou Road train station platform is also very narrow and cannot be widened to accommodate an increasingly crowded platform.
Ditmas Park West, is a historic neighborhood known for its Victorian homes that are often 100 years old. We have already seen some of these homes torn down and replaced with big buildings. We have been fighting for 30 years for landmark designation in order to preserve the character of our neighborhood. We want this community to retain a level of historical significance. We want to preserve our community.
As a community member of 30 years, and a City Council candidate, I am standing against this project. It is not in the interest of the community and would destroy what is now a long shopping corridor with nice small restaurants and local shops.
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