Council District 13
Marjorie Velázquez (D)
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.
Council District 18
Amanda Farias (D)
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.
Eric Gonzalez (D)
Age: 48 Occupation: Acting District Attorney, Kings County
Education: Cornell University, B.A.; University of Michigan Law School, J.D.
Eric Gonzalez has been the acting District Attorney since the death of D.A. Kenneth Thompson in October 2016, after serving as his deputy for several years. Under Thompson, Gonzalez was involved in the launch of a number of the administration’s signature initiatives, including the creation of the Conviction Review Unit and the policy not to seek prosecution for low-level marijuana possession. As acting District Attorney, Gonzalez has continued Thompson’s work creating a fairer and more equitable criminal justice system in Brooklyn by scrutinizing allegations of wrongful convictions and avoiding prosecution for low-level crimes that have historically led to disproportionate levels of incarceration among communities of color. Gonzalez told Citizens Union that he views the position as a nonpolitical office and would strive to fulfill its responsibilities independently of other interests or personal aspirations. He supports bail reform and will reduce the number of cases in which A.D.A.s request bail; minimizing immigration-related collateral consequences; videotaping police interrogations; and will pursue cases related to public corruption and “pay-to-play” impropriety. In line with his belief that the District Attorney’s office should avoid overtly political stances, he has not taken a position on holding a Constitutional Convention but told Citizens Union that he does not believe it is the only strategy to achieve meaningful criminal justice reform. Citizen’s Union prefers Gonzalez in this race because of his experience in the D.A.’s office, his commitment to ameliorating inequality in the criminal justice system through greater conviction integrity, inaugurated by his predecessor, and to pursue cases of public corruption.
Council District 35
Ede Fox (D)
Age: 46 Occupation: Full-time Candidate
Education: University of Michigan, B.A.; University of California, Los Angeles, M.A.
Ede Fox is a co-founder of Prospect Heights Democrats for Reform and has been a longtime activist in her community. She currently serves as the Environmental/Sanitation Chair for Brooklyn Community Board 8 and has served as a top aide and the Legislative and Budget Director for NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverto. Her top priority issues include creating affordable housing based on the district’s median income, creating new local jobs, and ensuring that District 35 residents and schools have clean, lead-free drinking water. Fox has emphasized the importance of openness and transparency in government, especially as a means of curbing “pay-to-play” politics in New York City. She is a strong proponent of civic engagement on the local level and will promote participatory budgeting in the district, which was introduced by the incumbent. On Citizens Union’s issues, Fox is opposed to establishing a nonpartisan, top-two primary system, and holding a Constitutional Convention. Citizens Union prefers Fox because she has demonstrated a deep knowledge of and commitment to the issues in her district, has the legislative and political experience to be an effective reformer and representative in the Council and is supportive of many of Citizens Union’s municipal level advocacy goals. Her interest in and ability to represent the entire district is another factor in her favor, unlike the incumbent who created unnecessary controversy during her first term related to the racial dynamics of the district. Fox acknowledges some of the good work of the incumbent, such as allocating funding for women’s issues, senior centers, and NYCHA improvements in the district, and has committed to continuing those efforts.
Council District 38
Carlos Menchaca (D)
Age: 36 Occupation: NYC Council Member, District 38
Education: University of San Francisco, B.A.
Carlos Menchaca was elected to the New York City Council in 2013 and was the only candidate to defeat an incumbent, in a Democratic Primary upset, that year. Menchaca serves as the chair of the City Council Committee on Immigration and is a member of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus, the L.G.B.T. Caucus, and the Progressive Caucus. Representing a district with a large Asian and Latino community, Menchaca has prioritized, among others, immigration issues: he co-sponsored and was heavily involved in IDNYC legislation, and has secured funds for public defenders of undocumented immigrants and for adult literacy services. In his first term, he also increased the number of public school seats in his district and introduced participatory budgeting. If re-elected he would prioritize criminal justice reform, including passing the Right to Know Act, public housing issues like implementing the Right to Counsel initiative, civic engagement of immigrant and youth communities, protecting the working waterfront, and expanding access to legal representation, education, and healthcare for immigrants. Menchaca supports almost all of Citizens Union agenda points, but for holding a Constitutional Convention, and said that he would seek novel approaches to reforming city government processes such as reducing the county political committees’ strong influence on the choice of Council Speaker. Menchaca has proven himself to be an independent actor in the Council and an ambitious advocate for his community. Citizens Union prefers him in this race because of his support for the organization’s values and reform goals and for his courage in speaking his mind.
Council District 41
Alicka Ampry Samuel (D)
Occupation: Full-time Candidate
Education: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, B.A.; City of New York School of Law at Queens College, J.D.
Alicka Ampry Samuel was a Senior Advisor at NYCHA, after serving as the chief of staff for Assembly Member Latrice Walker. She has also worked as a child protective specialist for ACS, a human rights coordinator for the U.S. State Department, and a legislative aide and constituent services manager to two different members of the New York City Council. Her top priority is to improve housing in the district through homeowner protections against predatory speculation, new affordable housing development, and improving the quality of shelters in the district. Samuel expressed support for almost every reform goal on the Citizens Union questionnaire and is a strong supporter of oversight reforms to curb “pay-to-play” politics. She does not, however, support holding a Constitutional Convention. Samuel is the preferred candidate in this race because as she will likely be among the most effective reformers in the Council given her experience in local government and her alignment with Citizens Union’s reform agenda.
Council District 43 (Dem.)
Justin Brannan (D)
Age: 38 Occupation: Full-time Candidate
Education: Fordham University and College of Staten Island, B.A.
Justin Brannan is currently a full-time candidate and has previously served as Chief of Staff for Council Member Vincent Gentile, and is the founder of Bay Ridge Cares, a nonprofit to address quality of life issues in Bay Ridge. Brannan’s top priorities in the district are to improve public transportation options, address overcrowding in classrooms, support small businesses, increase funding for senior services, and increase community-police interaction. He supports almost all of Citizens Union’s reform priorities and is especially supportive of Council rules reforms to make the process of policymaking more fair, efficient, and external to the political dynamics of the Council. Brannan splits notably with Citizens Union’s agenda on the subject of holding a Constitutional Convention, which he opposes. Citizens Union prefers Brannan because, in addition to his knowledge of the issues facing his district, he is the candidate most versed in reform issues and presents as the candidate with the greatest ability to successfully negotiate the dynamics of the Council.
Council District 43 (Rep.)
John Quaglione (R)
Age: 38 Occupation: Deputy Chief of Staff and Press Secretary for Senator Martin Golden
Education: American University, B.A.
John Quaglione is currently the Deputy Chief of Staff and Press Secretary for State Senator Martin Golden and serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saint Anselm Catholic Academy. Qualgione’s top priorities are creating a city-wide database of cell phone videos and pictures taken by civilians to assist NYPD investigations, increasing the presence of police in District 43, introducing participatory budgeting, improving public transportation, and increasing funding for senior services like the SCRIE and EPIC programs. Quaglione supports a number of Citizens Union’s reform goals, but deviates on the subject of police accountability, holding a Constitutional Convention, and independent budgeting for certain public offices and agencies. He does, however, believe that the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent police oversight agency, should be empowered to prosecute officers found lying during their investigation. Citizens Union prefers Quaglione because he presents as the primary candidate best able to represent the diverse communities and political ideologies of the district, and for his alignment with many of Citizens Union’s reform priorities, especially elections and Council reform.
Council District 1
Margaret Chin (D)
Age: 64 Occupation: NYC Council Member, District 1
Education: City College of New York, B.A.
Margaret Chin was elected to the New York City Council in 2010, after a career in education and as the deputy executive director of Asian Americans for Equality. Her top priorities are to create and preserve affordable housing and strengthen tenant protections; increase funding for senior services; increase public notification and transparency in the land use decision-making process; and create mechanisms to increase transparency and ensure the timely completion of capital projects. Chin expressed support for nearly all of Citizen Union’s reform goals, but she is opposed to holding a Constitutional Convention. During her time as a Council Member, Chin has worked on numerous issues such as expanding paid sick leave and the NYC Rent Freeze Program. She is the Chair of the Council’s Committee on Aging and Co-Vice Chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus, and is a member of the Progressive Caucus. Citizens Union prefers Chin in this race because of her commitment to government transparency, her demonstrated tenacity in the Council and her dedication to key issues impacting her district.
Council District 2
Carlina Rivera (D)
Age: 33 Occupation: Full-time Candidate
Education: Marist College, B.A.
Carlina Rivera is a former Legislative Director for Council Member Rosie Mendez, representing District 2, where she started in 2015. She has served as a Democratic District Leader and the Director of Programs and Services at Good Old Lower East Side, Inc. (GOLES), which is a community-based and member-led housing preservation organization. Rivera’s top priority issues are affordable housing, senior citizen services, better-funded public education, after-school programs and job opportunities for youth, and assistances for small local businesses. Rivera has expressed support for a range of Citizens Union advocacy goals, emphasizing community board and budget reform as the areas where she is most aligned with Citizens Union. On her questionnaire, Rivera supported every reform measure except holding a Constitutional Convention. Citizens Union prefers Carlina Rivera because she is the candidate with the broadest knowledge of issues in the district, has significant legislative experience relative to her opponents, and will be a champion of Citizens Union’s reform priorities in the Council.
Council District 4
Keith Powers (D)
Age: 33 Occupation: Full-time Candidate
Education: University of Dayton, B.A.; CUNY Graduate Center, M.A.
Keith Powers is a former Vice President at Constantinople & Vallone Consulting L.L.C., a lobbying firm in New York City and State. He has worked as a campaign manager for state Senator Liz Krueger and a chief of staff for Assembly Member Jonathan Bing. Powers’ top priorities are protecting and creating affordable housing; improving public education in terms of funding, diversity, and quality; and fixing public transportation’s functionality and affordability. Powers is the only candidate in the race to include a detailed plan for reforming city government as part of his platform. His “Sunlight in the City” agenda includes reforms to campaign finance, budget allocations, voting and elections, Council operations, and new restrictions on lobbyist activity. In addressing his own work as a lobbyist, he has pledged to disclose his former client list, refrain from contact with former clients or the firm, and to seek an advisory opinion on the matter from the Conflict of Interest Board, which he will make public. Although this primary race features several highly qualified candidates, Citizens Union prefers Powers due to his ambitious and wide-ranging reform agenda and believes his knowledge of city government and deep familiarity with the constituency will make him an excellent representative of District 4.
Council District 6
Helen Rosenthal (D)
Age: 56 Occupation: NYC Council Member, District 6
Education: Michigan State University, B.A.; Yale University, M.P.H.
Helen Rosenthal was elected to the New York City Council in 2013 and is currently seeking reelection. Before her election to the Council, Rosenthal served on Community Board 7 for several years, including as Chair and she served as the Assistant Director of the New York City Office of Management and Budget under Mayors Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani. Rosenthal’s top priorities are protecting affordable housing through the Stand for Tenant Safety legislative package, addressing the underfunding of human service workers, integrating schools, and reforming energy codes to increase sustainable energy in New York City. Regarding Citizens Union’s issues, Rosenthal supports filling community board vacancies within 30 days and establishing a formal standardized and transparent process for community board appointments. She also supports Citizen Union’s voting and election reform measures and wants to offer same-day voter registration and early voting options for New Yorkers. Rosenthal does not support extending Council term limits or holding a Constitutional Convention. Citizens Union prefers Rosenthal, finding her to be an effective council member who advocates strongly on a wide range of issues in City Hall, and who supports many of Citizens Union’s key reform platforms.
Council District 7
Mark Levine (D)
Age: 48 Occupation: NYC Council Member, District 7
Education: Haverford College, B.A.; Harvard University, M.A.
Mark Levine was elected to the New York City Council in 2013 and serves as the Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation and as a member of Committees on Education, Finance, Governmental Operations, Housing and Buildings, and Rules, Privileges, and Elections. Levine considers affordable housing to be the most important issue the city and his district face, from defending current tenants to developing new projects. He also stresses greater equity for low- and moderate-income communities in terms of access to public resources. On reform issues, he stresses the importance of police accountability (he cosponsored the Right to Know Act) and campaign finance rules regulating activity surrounding the Speaker’s race. He did not indicate his position on empowering the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) to prosecute officers found guilty of lying during CCRB investigations and making all actions designed to influence Council outcomes, including the choice of Speaker, reportable as a lobbying expense. He is opposed to holding a Constitutional Convention. Citizens Union prefers Levine in this race because of his positive vision for his district and for the city, and the contributions to reform that he has already made in office. His support for reform issues has been consistent, with disagreements discussed reasonably and adequately.
Council District 8
Council District 9
Council District 21
Francisco Moya (D)
Age: 43 Occupation: NYS Assembly Member, District 39.
Education: St. John’s University, B.A.; Baruch College of Public Administration, M.A.
Francisco Moya has been a New York State Assembly Member for District 39 since 2010, after defeating former state Senator Hiram Monserrate. One of his most notable pieces of legislation is the DREAM Act, which broadens educational opportunities for immigrant students, and which passed the Assembly in 2016. If elected to the Council, Moya’s priorities would be to strengthen tenant protections and improve the affordability of homeownership; ensure that senior centers and programming are operational and well-funded; expand pre-K and afterschool programming; reform the criminal justice system to be tailored to the needs and realities of local communities, and champion immigrants’ rights. He closely aligns with Citizens Union positions on closing the LLC loophole and supports fighting “pay-to-play” politics in New York City. Moya does, however, deviate from Citizens Union’s positions on several key issues including creating a nonpartisan election system in New York, requiring that all laws enacted by referendum be changed with voter approval, reducing the number of Council committees, and holding a Constitutional Convention. Citizens Union prefers Moya in the race to represent District 21 because of his qualifications as a legislator and his ability to advance those reforms that he does support, and because of the checkered history of his opponent.
Council District 30
Elizabeth Crowley (D)
Age: 39 Occupation: NYC Council Member, District 30
Education: SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology, B.A.; Pratt Institute Graduate School of Architecture, M.S.
Elizabeth Crowley was elected to the New York City Council in a special election in 2008 and is currently seeking reelection. The top priority issues of her campaign are improving public transportation, building more high schools in District 30, creating more senior centers, building more affordable housing, and encouraging local businesses. Crowley expressed support for a number of Citizens Union’s public policy goals, especially in the area of police accountability Council rules reform. In 2016, she was the lead sponsor on a bill that placed political contribution limits and disclosure requirements on nonprofits that are formed by, or affiliated with, elected officials, which closely reflected a Citizens Union proposal issued earlier that year. Crowley is opposed to establishing a nonpartisan, top-two primary system in New York, creating a voluntary municipal poll worker program to supplement poll worker recruitment by district leaders, modifying the City Charter to require that laws enacted by referendum only be changed through approval by the voters, and holding a Constitutional Convention – all of which Citizens Union supports. Despite these deviations from Citizens Union’s agenda, Crowley is the preferred candidate in this race because she has proven herself to be an effective member of the New York City Council with an eye toward important reforms in key areas of city government. In her interview with Citizens Union, she expressed an understanding that, as a council member, her role is to represent the interests of New York City as a whole, as well as of her district.