City Council District 7 - Democratic Primary

   
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Preferred Candidate - Mark Levine - Dem
Age: 44 Occupation: Non-profit Consultant
Education: Haverford College and University of Seville (BA), Harvard Kennedy School of Government (MA)

Mark Levine has an extensive background in community activism and politics. He started his career as a bilingual math and science teacher in the Bronx and has since opened Neighborhood Trust, a local credit union, to help low-income individuals obtain loans. He also demonstrates a thorough knowledge of city politics, influenced by his involvement with Manhattan Community Board 12 and his previous state senate run. If elected, Levine will advocate for universal pre-K and better legal assistance for tenants in housing court. City Council reform issues are also central to Levine’s platform. Sick of the back-room dealing and horse-trading he sees in City Council politics, Levine says that he is running to make government more transparent and accountable to its constituents. He believes in ensuring merit-based selection of the next speaker, providing for more equitable and needs-based distribution of discretionary funding, and implementing participatory budgeting. Citizens Union’s reform agenda coincides with Levine’s very closely. He has clear plans of action for implementing his campaign promises and his connections to existing political structures help make him a strong candidate. For his ambition, preparedness and commitment to reform, Citizens Union prefers Mark Levine.
 

           

  
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  Joyce Johnson – Dem
Age: N/A Occupation: Organizational Consultant
Education: Howard University (BS)

Joyce Johnson is an experienced businesswoman and community advocate. She has worked her way up in both the private and public sectors, serving as National Director of Equal Employment Opportunity for Joseph E. Seagram and Sons Inc. and, later, in leadership positions for the New York City Comptroller and New York City School Chancellor. Johnson is also the current Democratic District Leader in the 69th Assembly District. As a Councilmember, she would advocate for more affordable housing and try to increase political engagement in her constituents. Regarding reform, Johnson supports many of Citizens Union’s issues, including City Council reform, and strongly supports reducing the number of committees to increase efficiency and ensuring more needs-based distribution of discretionary funding. While Johnson is an effective manager and has relevant knowledge of city government, she lacked the political insight and passion for Citizens Union’s issues that was demonstrated by our preferred candidate in this competitive field.
 


  
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Mark Otto – Dem
Age: 32 Occupation: Assistant Principal, Facing History School
Education: SUNY New Paltz (BA), New York University (MA)

Mark Otto presented a deep passion and commitment to his community. Otto is an Assistant Principal at the Facing History School, which he helped establish more than eight years ago. Since announcing his bid for City Council, Otto has delved deeply into the most entrenched problems in his district. He firmly opposes the city’s stop, question, and frisk policy, asserting that it destroys public trust, particularly within African-American and Latino communities. As an educator, he is also concerned with police presence in city schools. Through his work with parents and students at the Facing History School, Otto has also committed himself to increasing access to affordable housing, defending tenants’ rights, and increasing resources for LGBT homeless youth. On City Council reform issues, Otto supports reducing the quantity of committees as well as pushing for a more equitable and needs-based distribution of discretionary funding. Citizens Union is very impressed with Otto’s commitment and sees great potential in his candidacy. However, his lack of political experience or knowledge of the inner workings of the City Council may prove limiting. Although we do not prefer his candidacy, we hope that we will continue to see his name in city politics.
  


  
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 Zead Ramadan – Dem
Age: 46 Occupation: Owner, X-Caffe
Education: State University of New York at Stony Brook (BA)

Zead Ramadan is an active, and longtime, participant in the community he now seeks to represent. He has previously chaired Manhattan Community Board 12, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, acted as founding chair to the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center and the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, as well as numerous other community organizations. Ramadan is well-informed on the issues facing both the city and the district. Ramadan believes that, due to concerns over racial profiling, infringement of civil liberties, and ineffectiveness, the Police Department should no longer practice stop, question, and frisk. His views on City Council reform are largely in line with those of Citizen’s Union; Ramadan supports instant runoff voting and proposes a needs-based distribution of discretionary funding. He is open to nonpartisan elections, though expressed opposition on his candidate questionnaire. Ramadan believes that his strong ties to business, community, and religious groups in the district make him a viable candidate for office. Citizens Union considers Ramadan a knowledgeable and dedicated candidate, with an in-depth understanding of both good government issues and his district. In this competitive field, however, he lacks the in-depth political knowledge and commitment to reform issues of our preferred candidate.
 


  
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David Sasscer-Burgos – Dem
Age: 49 Occupation: Vice President of Project and Development Services, Jones Lang LaSalle
Education: Georgia Institute of Technology (BA), Columbia Business School (MBA)

David Sasscer-Burgos has a background in civic engagement, both as an adult English as a Second Language teacher and as chairman of the Visionary Media Organization. His professional career has focused on project management of green, LEED certified development. Sasscer-Burgos decided to run for office after feeling disenfranchised during the 2013 redistricting process. The candidate has made sustainable development a priority of his campaign, particularly affordable housing that incorporates green design. Sasscer-Burgos seemed receptive to Citizens Unions reform agenda, yet lacked in-depth knowledge of reform issues and the operations of the City Council. As a new comer to politics, Sasscer-Burgos lacks the political insight of other candidates in this field necessary for achieving his goal, though presented a compelling vision for his issues.
  


Alicia Barksdale - Dem
Has not returned questionnaire
Candidate could not be scheduled for an interview

Brodie Enoch - Dem
Has not returned questionnaire
Candidate could not be scheduled for an interview

Manuel Lantingua - Dem
Has not returned questionnaire
Candidate could not be scheduled for an interview

Luis Tejada - Dem
Has not returned questionnaire
Candidate could not be scheduled for an interview

Ruben Dario Vargas - Dem
Has not returned questionnaire
Candidate could not be scheduled for an interview