(photo from NYS Senate)
BILL PERKINS – DEM, WF
Bill Perkin's Candidate Questionnaire
Age: 60 Occupation: Senator, NYS State Senate
Education: Brown University (BA)
Senate website: http://www.nysenate.gov/senator/bill-perkins
Senator Bill Perkins is seeking reelection after serving two previous terms. He is Chair of the Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions Committee. By leading the successful effort to make New York State’s hundreds of authorities more accountable and transparent, Bill Perkins has helped to deliver arguably the most significant reform of governance in Albany in recent years. On reform issues, Perkins mostly aligns with Citizens Union’s reform agenda. He supports the creation of an independent redistricting commission, though would support a compromise bill that was not fully independent. He favors the mandatory disclosure of outside income, but did not believe that legislators should be obliged to work full time. On other issues, Perkins was well-versed in the dynamics of his district and passionate about strengthening public housing and education. He has held hearings soliciting input on district issues ranging from Columbia’s eminent domain plans to the MTA’s operations. On charter schools, Perkins expressed concerns about a number of issues: the co-location of charter and public schools, the lack of auditing power for the comptroller, and the profit-motive of particular charter school management organizations and officials. He also wants to make sure students in traditional public schools are not ignored due to the emphasis on charter schools. That being said, he does not strictly oppose charter schools and voted in favor of the recent bill raising the state cap on charter schools. Overall, Perkins’ three chief priorities will be education, housing, and economic development. CU admires Perkins’ demonstrated leadership and hard-work. Citizens Union prefers Perkins due to his experience with the issues and impressive work in reforming public authorities, and sees him as the best candidate in the race to deliver much-needed change in Albany.
(photo from nydailynews.com)
BASIL SMIKLE – DEM
Basil Smikle's Candidate Questionnaire
Age: 38 Occupation: Political Consultant, Basil Smikle Associates
Education: Cornell University (BS); Columbia University (MPA)
Basil Smikle, a first-time candidate for office, has worked for the Harlem Empowerment Zone, Fernando Ferrer, and Hillary Clinton, and founded a political consulting firm, Smikle Associates, in 2003. He also taught at Columbia University and CUNY. On reform issues, Smikle wants to lend a voice to the like-minded camp of reformers and results-oriented elected officials. Smikle supports independent redistricting because he wants to remove politics and supports giving minorities a voice in the process. He supports the entirety of Citizens Union’s reform agenda. Beyond reform, Smikle’s top priority is improving education, which he said would result in reduced unemployment and lower incarceration rates. Smikle plans to bring parents, teachers, and administrators to the table around education-related decisions, and has been a vocal proponent of charter schools. Smikle said he will be a more proactive leader, pushing job creation through programs where underskilled workers go back to school to gain skills tailored to certain jobs. He also wants to advocate for the preservation of affordable housing. On the issue of the Columbia University development, he raised particular concerns about how the development will lead to increased property values and less affordable housing, while recognizing that development can be beneficial. Overall, Smikle is a knowledgeable and passionate candidate, who showed much promise with his emphasis on accountability and achievement, particularly with regard to elected officials. While Citizens Union believes that Smikle is a well-qualified candidate, he did not present a compelling enough case as to why he was better suited for the position than the incumbent who has a strong record on reform.