Incoming Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine has lofty ambitions for his new position, and is the first one to admit that he has his work cut out for him as he prepares to take office in 2022.
Charged up and looking to tackle climate concerns, a possible winter spike in COVID-19 cases, and the continued revitalization of the arts, the current City Council member from Washington Heights and borough president-elect is hoping to hit the ground running.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity at this critical moment and incredibly excited to get to work on Jan. 1. I feel like this is a moment of enormous challenges and opportunity for me, and I think it makes the office of Manhattan Borough President more important than ever,” Levine told amNewYork Metro.
Levine believes he will have the guidance to complete his goals with the help of a transition committee that includes District Council 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido and former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields.
“We have an amazing and diverse group of leaders from government, from nonprofits, from the arts, social services, and business that are going to be a brain trust for us as we put in place a plan for the office and the policies we want to focus on. I am really grateful for this collection of leaders,” Levine said.
The incoming Manhattan Borough President prides himself on accessibility. Speaking on walking throughout Manhattan meeting voters throughout his run, he says things are unlikely to change. He hopes he will continue to converse with constituents and affirms the groups who endorsed his campaign will have a seat at his table.
“I think that I’m better as a leader when I benefit from input from advocates and leaders from all perspectives, including folks who don’t agree with me and who want to push. That makes me better. We need advocates continuing to agitate to make government better,” Levine said. “I freely give my personal cell number out. I respond personally to constituents’ requests when I can. I value those interactions. I walk everywhere, I take mass transit regularly partly because it’s a chance to run into constituents and hear their concerns directly.”
Entering office during a global pandemic, climate crisis, and a racial and class divide showcased prominently by the COVID-19 virus will be no easy feat. Levine desires to concentrate on the disparities that have been exacerbated by this virus as well as the ongoing issues with climate and resiliency. Still, Levine affirms he is looking to make a difference on all fronts.
“We have a chance to come back as a different, healthier, more just and better Manhattan in New York City. I feel like the job of the Borough President is going to be to chart that course forward and use the tools in the office to help us get there,” Levine said.
Levine shared that at the peak of the pandemic, he contracted COVID-19 along with members of his family. His experience as a New York City Council Member trying to aid his district throughout the pandemic, as well has his first-hand experience with the virus has made him a vigorous fighter for public health. He assures that he will have prioritized COVID response, and is concerned over the dwindling vaccination numbers, particularly among children.
“I consider myself a public health warrior for the rest of my life. I think COVID changed us all, COVID changed me. I’m never going to stop focusing on the challenge of public health, the tremendous inequality and access to health, even beyond the crisis phase beyond COVID,” Levine said.
He also adds that one of his goals is to make Manhattan the global leader when it comes to carbon neutrality, but the only way to do this is to make what he calls audacious policies to help build efficiency and to electrify everything. This includes breaking the dependence from private automobiles, fixing waste management and improving composting, addressing the food system since he believes plant-based foods are better for the environment, and addressing climate change issues.
“Most people forget that Manhattan is a very little island off the edge of the Atlantic and we are incredibly vulnerable to climate change that is already here as we have experienced quite painfully this summer multiple times,” Levine said.
Dr. Debbie Almontaser – Founder & CEO, Bridging Cultures Group & Board President, Muslim Community Network
Vincent Alvarez – President, New York City Central Labor Council
Quemuel Arroyo – Chief Accessibility Officer, State of NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Barbara Askins – President & CEO, 125th St BID
Murad Awedeh – Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition & NYIC Action
Ahsia Badi – Director of Public Engagement NYIRC
Aneiry Batista – Chief of Staff, Office of Congressman Adriano Espaillat, NY-13
Dr. Uché Blackstock – Founder & CEO, Advancing Health Equity
Aldrin Bonilla – Executive Vice President, Fund for the City of New York. Commissioner and Chair, Equal Employment Practices Commission
Andy Bowen – Principal, Bowen Public Affairs
John Calvelli – Exec. V.P Public Affairs, Wildlife Conservation Society; Chair, Cultural Institutions Group
Carl Cambria – UFT Manhattan Borough Representative
Jesse Campoamor – Principal, Cultural Productions
Hildalyn Colon-Hernandez – Director of Policy & Strategic Partnerships, Los Deliverista Unidos
Rev. Jacques Andre DeGraff – Minister, Canaan Baptist Church of Christ
Deyanira Del Rio – Co-Director, New Economy Project
Dr. Hazel Dukes – President, NAACP New York State Conference
Jahmila Edwards – Associate Director, District Council 37
Anthony Feliciano – Director, Commission on the Public’s Health System
Stanly Fritz – Political and Campaigns Director; Citizen Action of New York
Esther Fuchs – Professor of International & Public Affairs and Political Science, Columbia University
Adam Ganser – Executive Director, New Yorkers for Parks
Michael Garner – President, One Hundred Black Men
Hon. Dan Garodnick – President and CEO, Riverside Park Conservancy
Matt Gewolb – Assistant Dean & General Counsel, New York Law School
Elizabeth Goldstein – President, The Municipal Art Society of New York
David Greenfield – Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, Met Council
David Gruber – President, Friends of Father Demo Square
Danny Harris – Executive Director, Transportation Alternatives
Dr. Ramona Hernandez – Director, Dominican Studies Institute of The City University of New York (CUNY)
Wayne Ho – President/CEO, Chinese-American Planning Council
Adriene Holder – Attorney-in-Charge, The Legal Aid Society
Betsy Jacobson – Executive Director, United Jewish Council of the East Side
Jennifer Jones-Austin – CEO & Executive Director, FPWA
Justin Kalifowitz – Executive Chairman, Downtown Music Holdings
Dr. Rafael A. Lantigua – Associate Director Columbia University Medical Center; Co-founder, Board of Alianza Dominicana, Inc
Khary Lazarre-White – Executive Director & Co-Founder, The Brotherhood Sister Sol
Maria Lizardo – Executive Director, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
Hon. Melissa Mark-Viverito – Former Speaker, New York City Council
Janos Martin – National Director, Dream Corps JUSTICE
Hon. Ruth Messenger – Global Ambassador, American Jewish World Service & Former Manhattan Borough President
Frankie Miranda – President & CEO, Hispanic Federation President
Carmen Neely – President & Co-Founder, Harlem Pride
Clare Newman – President & CEO, Trust for Governors Island
Thomas O’Donnell – President, Teamsters Local 817
Sonia Ossorio – President, NOW-NY
Laura Penn – Executive Director, Stage Directors & Choreographers; Co-Chair, Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds
Rabbi Joseph Potasnik – Executive Vice President, New York Board of Rabbis
Andrew Rasiej – Founder & CEO, Civic Hall
Damaris Reyes – Executive Director, Good Old Lower East Side
Andrew Rigie – Executive Director, NYC Hospitality Alliance
Voza Rivers – Founder & Chair, Harlem Arts Alliance
Rosita Romero – Executive Director, Dominican Women’s Development Center
Allen Roskoff – President, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club
Bobbie Sackman – Advocate for older New Yorkers
Rev. John Scott – Pastor, St. John’s Baptist Church
Jonathan Shabshahkes – Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, NY Attorney General Letitia James
Peggy Shepard – Co-founder, Executive Director; WE-ACT for Environmental Justice
Risa Shoup – Interim Executive Director, Art/New York
Greg Silverman – Executive Director, West Side Campaign Against Hunger
Dr. Craig Spencer – Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine and Population and Family Health, Columbia University Medical Center
Yvonne Stennett – Executive Director, Community League of the Heights
Assetou Sy Traore – President, USA Mali Charitable Association of NYC
Bhav Tibrewal – Political Director, Hotel Trades Council
Candis Tolliver – Vice President and Political Director, 32BJ SEIU
Dr. Jav Varma – Professor of Population Health Sciences, Weill Cornell Medicine
Jessica Walker – President & CEO, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
Matthew Washington – Vice President and Chief of Staff, Phipps Houses; Former Deputy Borough President
Lloyd Williams – President & CEO, Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce
Larry Wood – Director of Advocacy & Organizing, Goddard Riverside
Justin Chin-Shan Yu – President, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
UJA-Federation of New York (Represented by Hindy Poupko, Deputy Chief Planning Officer)