NYC COUNCIL DISTRICT 13

Democratic Primary

★ Preferred Candidate - Marjorie Velázquez - Dem ★

Questionnaire

Age: 31 Occupation: Full-time Candidate
Education: Stern School of Business at New York University, B.A.

Marjorie Velázquez is a former senior accountant at DIRECTV Latin America, treasurer of Council Member Ritchie Torres’s first election campaign, and currently, serves as treasurer and executive board member of Community Board 10 and as a Democratic District Leader. Velázquez wants to improve quality of life in her district by removing inefficiencies in government spending and expanding public services. Her priorities include increasing funding for public schools, securing a moratorium on school closures, and expanding transit options by expediting construction of new Metro-North stations in Morris Park and Parkchester/Van Nest. Lastly, she aims to fight for women’s rights by strengthening paid family leave laws, ensuring equal pay for equal work, and enabling women to make their own healthcare choices. In this line, she wishes to improve access to healthcare and preemptive treatments, especially for seniors. In terms of Citizens Union reform issues, Velázquez supports increasing the Campaign Finance Board’s public matching funds program and she emphasized her commitment to sound government processes and the responsible and transparent allocation of public resources. She deviates from Citizens Union position most notably on the issue of holding a Constitutional Convention, which she opposes. Citizens Union has decided to prefer Marjorie Velázquez because she demonstrated significant knowledge and understanding of the issues facing her district, has a strong background in accounting that she argues will allow her to champion transparency and fairness in budget negotiations, and is in line with a vast majority of Citizens Union reform priorities.

Campaign Website

John C. Doyle - Dem

Questionnaire 

Age: 31, Occupation: Associate Director of Public Relations at NYC Health + Hospitals.
Education: Le Moyne College, B.A.

John C. Doyle is the Associate Director of Public Relations at NYC Health + Hospitals. Prior to this role, he was the District and Community Affairs Director for State Senator Jeff Klein. His priorities are to transform the appearance of Pelham Bay Station and improve public transportation in the district, improve the accessibility and affordability of public hospitals, and implement resiliency measures to preserve the district’s coastal residential communities. Doyle is a strong proponent of Citizens Union’s campaign finance reform priorities. However, Doyle opposes a nonpartisan, top-two primary system, and holding a Constitutional Convention, two issues that Citizens Union supports. Citizens Union has decided not to prefer Doyle because of the strength of his competitor but commends his commitment to the needs of his district.

Campaign Website

 

Mark Gjonaj - Dem

Questionnaire

Age: 48, Occupation: NY State Assemblyman
Education: St. John’s University, B.A.

Mark Gjonaj is a state Assembly Member, representing Assembly District 80 since 2013. Prior to holding that office, he was a small business owner in the Bronx, and had served as the Bronx Commissioner of the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission. Gjonaj seeks to improve quality of life in his district by improving transportation options, public school resources, and treatment services for opioid addiction. He also wants to reduce water
and sewer rates, as well as property tax assessments. In terms of Citizens Union issues, Gjonaj supports transparency in the budget and was a supporter of redistricting. However, Gjonaj does not support increasing the Campaign Finance Board’s public matching grants to a full match of funds raised, nor holding a Constitutional Convention. Citizens Union has decided not to prefer Mark Gjonaj because, while his presence in Albany has been noted, he has not made a reputation for himself as a reformer and Citizens Union is concerned about outside interests dominating his campaign fundraising.

Campaign Website

Victor Ortiz - Dem

Has not returned the questionnaire.

Egidio Sementelli - Dem

Has not returned the questionnaire.

NYC COUNCIL DISTRICT 18

Democratic Primary

★ Preferred Candidate - Amanda Farias - Dem ★

Questionnaire

Age: 27 Occupation: Full-time Candidate
Education: St. John’s University, B.A., M.A.

Amanda Farias is a former aide to Council Member Elizabeth Crowley in District 30 (Queens), and is a New American Fellow at the New American Leaders Project. On Council Member Crowley’s staff, she served a number of roles, including Legislative Aide, Participatory Budget Liaison, Director of Special Projects, Women’s Caucus Liaison, and Councilmanic Aide. Farias’s top priorities are improving public transportation in the district, expanding green markets, establishing job readiness programs and training for youth and adults, and empowering small businesses. In terms of Citizens Union reform issues, Farias expressed especially strong support for improving police accountability. However, she opposes a number of Citizens Union’s other reform goals including enabling Council committees to issue subpoenas by a vote of their members, making all actions designed to influence any city Council outcome, including the choice of Speaker, reportable as a lobbying expense, and holding a Constitutional Convention. While she is currently opposed to a Constitutional Convention, she said she would take an active role in pushing for reform through the Convention in the steps following the referendum, should one be called for by voters in November. Despite deviating from Citizens Union’s positions on a number of issues, Citizens Union prefers Amanda Farias because she presents as the candidate most able to advance the reform issues that she supports in the Council thanks to her experience serving under Councilmember Crowley.

Campaign Website

Michael Beltzer - Dem

Questionnaire

Age: 31 Occupation: Full-time Candidate
Education: Stony Brook University, B.A.; Zicklins School of Business at Baruch College, M.B.A.

Prior to running for office, Michael Beltzer has been a compliance analyst for JPMorgan Chase, a Bond Servicer for the Development Corporation for Israel, and a Director of Financial and Merchant Services at the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. Beltzer’s top priorities are passing a comprehensive community-based development plan for Council District 18 and a 197-a plan to avoid spot re-zonings; improving public safety and police-community relations, and modernizing transportation. He also wants to bring participatory budgeting to the district. Beltzer supports all of Citizens Union’s police accountability reform priorities and believes that members of the Civilian Complaint Review Board should be elected, not appointed. He does not support holding a Constitutional Convention. While he is aligned with many Citizens Union reform goals, Citizens Union believes that his opponent will be more effective in achieving such reforms.

Campaign Website

Elvin Garcia - Dem

Questionnaire

Age: 30 Occupation: Full-time Candidate
Education: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, B.A.

Prior to running for office, Elvin Garcia was the Bronx Borough Director for Mayor de Blasio. He has also been a Fellow at the New Leaders Council, the Community Affairs Representative for State Senator Gustavo Rivera, and Regional Field Director for Former city Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s 2013 Mayoral Campaign, and then for Mayor de Blasio’s Campaign that same year. Garcia’s top priorities are improving public safety, expanding public school resources, ensuring that the Soundview Ferry and other transportation improvements are carried out with community input, empowering small businesses, and create support programs for residents of public housing. Garcia supports all of Citizens Union’s police accountability reform measures. However, Garcia does not support Citizens Union’s stance on prohibiting candidates from using public matching funds to purchase strategic campaign consulting services from firms that also provide lobbying services, nor holding a Constitutional Convention. Citizens Union has decided not to support Garcia because of the strength and appeal of his competitors.

Campaign Website

Ruben Diaz, Sr. - Dem

Has not returned the questionnaire.

William Russell Moore - Dem

Has not returned the questionnaire.