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2021 Elections: Who's running for the 6th City Council District seat | amNewYork

2021 Elections: Who’s running for the 6th City Council District seat

Clockwise from upper left: Gale Brewer, Maria Danzilo, David Gold, Zack Weiner, Jeffery Omura and Sara Lind.
File photos

The 6th Council District includes much of the Upper West Side as well as neighborhoods such as Lincoln Square and Clinton. More than 287,000 people call the district home, and many of them will be electing a new representative in the City Council this year.

The current Council Member is Helen Rosenthal, who has been in this position since 2014 and was set to run for Comptroller before dropping out of the race in July. She is also term-limited. 

There are approximately six individuals are registered to run for the District 6 New York City Council seat. Five candidates partook in amNewYork Metro’s interview questionnaire. Candidate Sara Lind did not respond to our request.

The answers from District 6 candidates who responded to amNewYork Metro’s questionnaire are found below:

Gale Brewer

 

amNewYork Metro: Why are you running for City Council?

Gale Brewer: I am running for City Council Because I know how to make government work better for the people. There are big challenges ahead of New York City right now—affordable housing, public safety, improving our public schools, climate change—and I want to bring my knowledge and expertise to help shepherd needed reforms on the council. I’ve fought for better schools; saner development; park restoration; paid sick leave for hourly workers; more affordable units; and better city services. I know that I can deliver for our neighborhood and assist the City Council with the institutional memory it needs.

aM: Tell us about yourself and your relationship to the district.

GB: The West Side is in my bones. I’ve lived, worked, raised kids, and been devoted to building a diverse and caring community on these UWS blocks, through crime waves, recessions, Mayors both Democrat and Republican, and now this !@#$%^  pandemic. I’ve won some big battles – and lost others – but I know that I can represent our neighborhood. I’ve solved tens of thousands of constituent problems – landlord-tenant, NYCHA, schools, small business, sanitation, police, you name it. As a result, I can tell you the home addresses of at least half the people I run into on the UWS!

aM: What are the biggest challenges facing the district and how will you solve them?

GB: There are many challenges for the Upper West Side as we recover from COVID-19 — all of which require dedicated, experienced leadership. We need to tackle the crisis of affordable housing — the current system only works for developers. We need to reexamine the old Mitchell-Lama program that delivered quality affordable homes as a new model for today. We also need to tackle public safety to make sure our streets are safe and there is accountability for the NYPD. I hope the new mental health response teams being piloted in Harlem can be a model for the entire city. 

aM: What will you do differently than the incumbent?

GB: I believe Council Member Rosenthal has been a strong voice on the council. Now more than ever, we need elected leaders who are willing to listen to the community to build solutions that will work for all of us. If West Side voters allow me the chance to represent them once more, I will put my knowledge, expertise, and energy to work for our neighborhood to help it recover stronger as New York City faces a new post-pandemic era.

aM: What’s your political experience?

GB: I have devoted my career to public service. I have spent the past seven years as Manhattan Borough President where I have led community planning initiatives neighborhoods across the island to thoughtfully address development and zoning issues. I previously had the honor of representing the Upper West Side on the City Council for 12 years. While on the Council, I led the fight for progressive legislation to move New York forward, including laws guaranteeing paid sick leave for most hourly employees, requiring all City data be published online, and protecting domestic workers from abusive practices.

aM: Any official endorsements?

GB: I am proud to have been endorsed by The West Side Democrats, the Broadway Democrats, the Three Parks Democrats, the Tenants PAC, the American Federation of Musicians Local 802, RWDSU, Communications Workers of America District 1, District Council 37, American Institute of Architects New York, the New York State Nurses Association, United Federation of Teachers, PSC/CNY SEIU 32BJ, Hotel Trades Council, UAW Region 9A NY CAP, and the Central Labor Council.

Maria Danzilo

amNewYork Metro: Why are you running for City Council?

Maria Danzilo: I am running because our community has not felt heard by our elected leaders. The UWS is declining right in front of us. Crime is up, our streets are not clean, small businesses are disappearing at an alarming rate, and the DOE is dragging its feet on getting our kids back to school. I will tackle these problems head on. I am stepping up to bring us together to reach our shared vision of a thriving neighborhood as we emerge from this devastating pandemic.

aM: Tell us about yourself and your relationship to the district.

MD: I am a 40-year resident of the UWS and a lifelong New Yorker from a family of small business owners. I raised my three children here and have contributed to the neighborhood through years of community service. I am a lawyer with deep legal and business experience. I have served the creative communities and tech start-ups by negotiating copyright protections and from my work in publishing; I have worked with small businesses to tackle the overly burdensome regulations they face in NYC today and with local leaders to spearhead efforts to increase government transparency, and increase access to sports programs.

aM: What are the biggest challenges facing the district and how will you solve them?

MD: We need to prioritize public safety, clean our streets, bring back small businesses, support our artistic community, remove bureaucracy from our broken education system, and combat the mental health crisis. We can’t be afraid to talk about public safety; no one should feel afraid to take the subway, walk their dog, or go out after dark. We need our fair share of resources to ensure everyone’s public safety. Our education system must expand successful programs and provide the resources every student needs to be successful. To fix our small businesses we must reduce taxes, and eliminate excessive regulations and fines.

aM: What will you do differently than the incumbent?

MD: I am the only candidate that is unabashedly a Moderate. I am not afraid to fund public safety, as everyone feels safe. I have decades of legal and business experience that can bring our community back to health. I see small businesses as a source of jobs, opportunity and economic growth, not as cash cows for the City to be taxed out of existence. I will fight to cut taxes, eliminate unnecessary regulations and fines. I support keeping the SHSAT and expanding G&T programs. We need to make sure we are providing resources so every student is successful.

aM: What’s your political experience?

MD: I am co-founder of the Common Sense Coalition, a grassroots group of diverse candidates from across the City united to bring common sense approaches to City government. I am a past president and lifetime trustee of the Copyright Society of the USA, and have advocated for free speech and intellectual property rights throughout my career. I have fundraised and volunteered for many causes such as FoodBank NYC, Amp Surf, which teaches disabled veterans how to surf, and the Public Squash Foundation, which builds public courts in underserved communities. I serve on the Leadership Committee of the Women in Sports Foundation. 

aM: Any official endorsements?

MD: I am endorsed by New Yorkers United for Change. As I officially launched my campaign on January 20th, I was not able to participate in official endorsements decided earlier, but I am part of the ongoing process of several significant endorsements. I have been endorsed by a group of hundreds of Upper West Side volunteers and community leaders, the most important endorsement of all.

David Gold

amNewYork Metro: Why are you running for City Council?

David Gold: Before the pandemic, the City faced two major crises in my lifetime: near bankruptcy in 1975 and terrorist attack in 2001. In both cases, we survived. In both cases, though, we also made critical mistakes that still torment us today. Our extremes of economic inequality, racial segregation, and environmental degradation, the inadequacies of our housing, schooling, and transit, even our unpreparedness for a public health emergency, are all to a substantial degree rooted in the choices we made, or failed to make, when we had the chance. 

That’s why I’m running. We’re at a critical juncture, a moment of suffering and anxiety, but also a rare opportunity. I offer creative and powerful proposals that will allow us to shape our shared future through the assertion of our best values. 

aM: Tell us about yourself and your relationship to the district.

DG: I’m a life-long New Yorker, raised on the Upper West Side. My wife also grew up in the neighborhood, and we raised our two boys here. One is now a public high school student, the other in college. Their grandparents all still live in the neighborhood, too. I’m a lawyer and a Ph.D. I’ve taught, practiced law, and run a business, and I now lead Democratism, a nonprofit working to advance our democracy.

aM: What are the biggest challenges facing the district and how will you solve them?

DG: I’ll fight in every way for affordable housing; excellent public schools; aid to local businesses; fair, effective law enforcement; environmental sustainability; better public transit; and a resurgence in the arts. 

But it’s not enough to fight for these things in the same old ways. Our problems aren’t new, and the old ways haven’t solved them. We need new tools to address these long-standing issues. As a Council member, I’ll introduce what I call Democratic Resource Allocation. It’s a hyper-local voting system that allows neighbors to decide together what’s most important to us and shift resources accordingly. It can address many UWS concerns, including empty storefronts and the lack of affordable housing. There’s an interactive tool on my website that shows how it works. 

aM: What will you do differently than the incumbent?

DG: I will be the first Council member to address the most important challenge facing New York City: that to create the city we want, we need to claim our fair share of power in Washington. The way we elect the president and members of Congress is anti-democratic and anti-city. It undermines our ability to implement the policy priorities that just about every New York City politician — holding office or running for one — believes in, from racial and economic justice to environmental sustainability. 

I’ll introduce the Democracy Decree in the City Council, legislation that will allow New Yorkers to join a national vote to end the Electoral College and create fair representation in Congress. We need to change the federal election system, and cities must lead the way.

aM: What’s your political experience?
DG: I’m not a politician. My organization, Democratism, is centered around a political solution to a political problem, and I’ve been active in progressive and Democratic politics for more than thirty years.

aM: Any official endorsements?

DG: n/a

Jeffrey Omura

amNewYork Metro: Why are you running for City Council?

Jeffrey Omura: I’ve seen firsthand how this pandemic has devastated New York’s Arts & Culture sector. We face a Cultural Depression, the consequences of which are enormous. As one of the City’s greatest economic engines, the revitalization of Arts & Culture is key to New York’s economic future.  I’m running to champion that revitalization, to address our challenges with Housing & Homelessness, to revive the neighborhood’s Small Business economy, to ensure that workers have a seat at the table as we rebuild, and to usher in a renaissance for all.

amNewYork Metro: Tell us about yourself and your relationship to the district.

JO: I am an actor, activist, and labor leader, recently named to City & State’s Labor 40 Under 40. I got my start in labor organizing with a campaign called #FairWageOnStage and was soon elected to the board of Actors’ Equity. I began my career right here in the district in the Shakespeare in the Park production of Romeo & Juliet. I fell in love with the neighborhood and I’m lucky to call it home. I’ve cleaned up our streets with One Block UWS, delivered meals to seniors with Goddard Riverside, and handed out holiday gifts for kids with UWS Open Hearts Initiative.

amNewYork Metro: What are the biggest challenges facing the district and how will you solve them?

JO: Help our Small Business: It was challenging maintaining a business before the pandemic, and it’s harder now. We need rent relief, property and commercial rent tax reform, and a streamlined regulatory process. My vision is for a city and neighborhood in which anyone can start and maintain a business.

Affordable Housing & Homelessness: Housing is a human right. We must prioritize an expansion of affordable housing through rezoning of vacant commercial office space, bringing basement apartment units online, and the use of City owned land. We must also simplify the process for our unhoused neighbors to access support and services.

amNewYork Metro: What will you do differently than the incumbent?

JO: Small business owners tell me I’m the first person to ask how they’re surviving. Our neighbors in public housing, arts workers, and anyone concerned about public safety tell me they feel ignored and abandoned.

I bring a unique perspective as the only working-class candidate in the race. I will be the first openly gay person to represent District 6 and the first Japanese American ever elected to office in New York State.

I will use my strengths and experience as a labor leader to make every District resident feel seen, heard, and represented.

amNewYork Metro: What’s your political experience?

JO: I’ve worked on the campaigns of John Kerry, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden, and more, organizing and talking to many thousands of voters on behalf of candidates. I am a twice-elected officer of Actors’ Equity Association, representing over 51,000 members. When the pandemic shut down the entire Arts & Culture sector, I helped create a campaign called Be An Arts Hero, that organized the entire country’s arts sector to collectively lobby Congress. Our organizers met with over 60 US Senate offices and we helped secure $15 billion in direct arts relief.

amNewYork Metro: Any official endorsements?

JO: The LGBTQ Victory Fund has endorsed me. The Broadway community has rallied behind this campaign, people like: Phillippa Soo, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Judy Kuhn, Ann Harada, Michael Urie, Reed Birney, Gavin Creel, Will Jackson Harper, Maulik Pancholy, and many more. I have personal endorsements from many of Actors’ Equity Association’s elected leaders. 

I’m proud to have the endorsements of legendary gay rights activist David Mixner, small business & LGBT policy advocate Jon Lovitz, and Vice President of Stonewall Democats of NY Jimmy Rivera.

Zack Weiner

amNewYork Metro: Why are you running for City Council?

Zack Weiner: I’m tired of the BS. It’s time for someone who’s willing to offer practical ideas that try to bridge people together.

amNewYork Metro: Tell us about yourself and your relationship to the district.

ZW: I’ve lived here my entire life. I never want to leave. And it makes me sad to see so many people I know talking about moving somewhere else.  

amNewYork Metro: What are the biggest challenges facing the district and how will you solve them?

ZW: We need to fill the storefronts. My StartUp Retail program will take care of that one for you. Look it up on my website at www.zackweiner.com.  

amNewYork Metro: What will you do differently than the incumbent?

ZW: Does having new ideas, listening to my neighbors, finding win-wins, and generally focusing on the area’s wellbeing sound like anything that has been going on in government lately?  

amNewYork Metro: What’s your political experience?

ZW: Zero. I’m a lifelong student of New York City history, its government’s one time grandeur and until recently a passive observer of modern New York Government’s chronic failures. But that changed this past year: now I’m in the ring, and we’re making moves to bring powerful optimism back to NYC government. 

amNewYork Metro: Any official endorsements?

ZW: My doormen, Karl with a K, Roy Wilson, a couple of Upper West Side moms, and anybody paying attention.

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