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2021 Elections: Who’s running for the 10th City Council District in Manhattan

Carmen De La Rosa (l.) and Johanna Garcia, two candidates for the 10th City Council District, answered our questionnaires.
Provided by the campaigns

City Council District 10 spans the neighborhoods of Washington Heights, Inwood, and Marble Hill on the upper tip of Manhattan. Incumbent Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents the district, cannot seek reelection due to term limits. 

Eight candidates are running to succeed him: James Behr, Carmen De La Rosa, Manny De Los Santos, Angela Fernandez, Johanna Garcia, Josue Perez, Tirso Pina, and Everett Reed.

We sent each of them a brief list of questions about them and their campaign, here’s what those who got back to us had to say.

Carmen De La Rosa

Why are you running for City Council?

De La Rosa did not answer this question.

Tell us about yourself, what you do for a living, your relationship to the district, and which neighborhood you live in.

I immigrated from the Dominican Republic as a child and grew up in Inwood my entire life. I am now proud to be raising my 6-year-old daughter in the community. My advocacy and passion for justice are deeply influenced by my roots. I’ve always wanted to work for and improve my community and my people. I believe the next 10 years will be definitive for our community as we counter gentrification and displacement. This moment demands bold leadership that will take action, stand with the community, and delivers results. We must elevate leadership that is inclusive and prioritizes the experiences of our constituents. I’ve done this my entire career and will continue to do so in City Council. 

What’s your political experience?

In 2016 I was elected to represent the 72nd Assembly District in the New York State Assembly. Since my first day in office, I have fought against racism, xenophobia, and economic injustice. I secured passage of the NYS Dream Act to provide access to education to all students regardless of immigration status and worked with organizers and advocates to reshape the lives of tenants, delivering real rent reform. I am now the lead sponsor in the Assembly for a billionaires tax to #TaxTheRich that will ensure the ultra-wealthy finally pay their fair share and help us close budget gaps wreaked by COVID-19. 

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

This is a vibrant community filled with immigrants, frontline workers, and working families. COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on our community, and zip codes in our community have had some of the highest positivity rates in the city at certain times. COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated many existing inequities and we need to make sure we take the right steps to root our inequality and help our community thrive. I will always make sure that the needs of our community are at the forefront. 

I will fight against overdevelopment and displacement, to dismantle fundamental flaws in our criminal justice system, to expand our social safety nets, for an equitable education system, and to protect vulnerable frontline workers and small businesses. 

This is a vibrant community filled with immigrants, frontline workers, and working families. COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on our community, and zip codes in our community have had some of the highest positivity rates in the city at certain times. COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated many existing inequities and we need to make sure we take the right steps to root our inequality and help our community thrive. I will always make sure that the needs of our community are at the forefront. 

I will fight against overdevelopment and displacement, to dismantle fundamental flaws in our criminal justice system, to expand our social safety nets, for an equitable education system, and to protect vulnerable frontline workers and small businesses.

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

My main point of difference with the incumbent is that I have a new vision to approach land use and housing in our community. I believe in fiercely protecting our tenants and expanding affordable housing in our district. I understand the dramatic consequences of rezoning and how they can often be used to displace the neediest residents of a community. I believe we need to reassess land-use and ULURP policies citywide. I also support the use of Racial Impact Studies as part of the rezoning application process to gain a better understanding of how a particular rezoning will impact a community. I believe we need to expand the use of Community Land Trusts in our district so members of the community will have increased voice and power of any new development in the district. And, as I have in the Assembly, I firmly believe in accessibility and transparency and will maintain an open-door policy with constituents and constituent groups

What endorsements do you have?

I pride myself in my ability to form coalitions as I have in the NYS Assembly, to deliver for my people and I am incredibly proud of the citywide support my campaign has received. I am proud to have been endorsed by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer; NYS Senator Jessica Ramos, NYS Assemblymember Karines Reyes; NYC Central Labor Council AFL-CIO;  Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union (RWDSU); 32BJ SEIU; Communications Workers of America District 1; DC37; Hotel Trades Council; the New York State Nurses Association; the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, and 21-in-21. 

Johanna Garcia

Why are you running for City Council?

I’m running to build a movement by all of us, for all of us to make our community voices heard – to provide a good education for every child, to protect tenants’ rights and make sure we are not pushed out of our neighborhood, and to ensure the economic recovery from COVID-19 includes every single New Yorker, meaning undocumented and excluded workers too. Together, we can break down the old way of doing things that left too many people excluded, anxious, and afraid. At this critical turning point for our city, we have to stop tinkering and start transforming our city’s policies and chart a new course forward.

Tell us about yourself, what you do for a living, your relationship to the district, and which neighborhood you live in

I’m the daughter of immigrants, born and raised in Washington Heights.  I’m an Afro-Latina single working mother of three, an education and housing activist, and Chief of Staff to State Senator Robert Jackson.  I know the struggles of my community because I have lived them.

What’s your political experience?

I’ve been involved in political activism for most of my adult life. As a parent activist fighting for a better education for my children, I served on the School Leadership Team at my children’s school. As President of the School District’s Presidents Council and as President of the Community Education Council, I led the fight against extreme testing, was one of the first to highlight the crisis of lead in our children’s schools, and sued the state to lower class sizes. 

I’ve been a strong voice for tenants and small businesses – as a founding member of Northern Manhattan Not For Sale, I stood up to the present Councilman against the unjust Inwood rezoning. I’m a leading voice on affordable housing to ensure we are not pushed out of our neighborhoods.

I helped start Uptown Community Democrats to bring the power back to the people of Upper Manhattan, unlike the existing club that was top down and focused on their own power.

I’ve served as Robert Jackson’s Chief of Staff in the City Council and now as his Chief of Staff as State Senator, listening to our community. I am the only major candidate in this race who helped to defeat the IDC, the group of Democrats-In-Name-Only who helped the Republicans hold on to power in Albany.

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

Dismantling racism in our public education system to provide opportunity for a good education for every child; Replacing existing, landlord written housing policies with systems that ensure affordable housing for all; Ensuring the economic recovery from COVID-19 includes every single New Yorker; and providing greater access to childcare. With community voices behind me, my knowledge of both City and State governments will make me an effective legislator and ready to get things done.

What will you do differently than the incumbent? 

Replace predatory rezoning with a just rezoning informed and developed with the community and that includes racial impact study; Provide In depth and responsive constituents services; Increase transparency and input on legislative and budget processes and negotiations; and demand higher access and accountability of municipal agencies and services.

What endorsements do you have?

State Senator Alessandra Biaggi; State Senator Robert Jackson; State Senator Brad Hoylman; Former Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon; Corruption fighter Zephyr Teachout; Education leader Carmen Rojas; Former NYS-NOW President Zenaida Mendez; Vote Mama; Kids PAC NYC; Uptown Community Democrats; IATSE Local One; Citizen Action

None of the other candidates — James Behr, Manny De Los Santos Angela Fernandez, Josue Perez, Tirso Pina, and Everett Reed — have responded yet to our questionnaires.

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