Quantcast

2021 Elections: Who’s running for the 9th City Council District seat in Manhattan

(Clockwise from top left): Joshua Clennon, Billy Council, Alpheaus Marcus, Demetrius Wilson, Sheba Simpson and Mario Rosser
PoliticsNY

City Council District 9 spans  Central Harlem, Morningside Heights, the Upper West Side and East Harlem. Veteran Councilmember Bill Perkins has represented the district since 2017, but will not seek re-election.

Sixteen candidates are currently running: William Allen, Cordell Cleare, Joshua Clennon, Billy Council, Pierre Gooding, Kristin Jordan, Alpheaus Marcus, Ruth McDaniels, Bernadette McNear, Athena Moore, Mario Rosser, Sheba Simpson, Keith Taylor, Demetrius Wilson II, and Malik Wright.

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.

Editor’s note: this story has been updated to include Keith Taylor’s answers on March 22 and Pierre Gooding on March 23.

Joshua Clennon

Joshua Clennon (D)

Why are you running for City Council?

I’ve lived my whole life in Harlem and am running for City council to fight against the cycle of displacement that has led so many to be forced out of this neighborhood. I know the challenges of this community because I’ve lived them. I will fight everyday to make sure Harlem gets its fair share from City Hall.

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

I am a Harlem native, lifelong Democrat, and community leader fighting for housing justice, economic equity, fully funded public education, and public safety reform. I currently serve Harlem on Manhattan Community Board 10 as Treasurer and Chair of the District Needs Task Force, and as Co Chair of Economic Development for the NAACP Mid Manhattan Branch. Professionally, I manage low income housing cooperatives (HDFCs) to preserve affordability and equity for working class residents in the Harlem community. I am running for City Council to provide practical leadership and real opportunities to the village of Harlem.

What’s your political experience?

I serve as Treasurer and Chair of the District Needs Task Force on Community Board 10. Further, I was elected to County Committee and as a Judicial Delegate. I am extremely active in my community, participating in protests against immigrant detention centers, gentrification, and worker exploitation. My professional background managing low income housing cooperatives (HDFCs) gives me deep experience to address the housing affordability crisis.

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

Harlem is facing a housing crisis that requires the stewardship of a representative with real experience in land use and affordable housing. As a Council Member I would introduce bold progressive policy to implement a comprehensive and community driven approach to rezoning, permanent income based housing, develop affordable homeownership opportunities, and restore and protect NYCHA from privatization. While also safeguarding our community  from the over-concentration of addiction treatment centers.

As a small business owner I understand the challenges our small business community is facing during the pandemic. I am championing a public municipal banking system to provide direct low interest capital to minority owned and struggling small businesses in Harlem. As a Council Member I will provide strong oversight to make sure that MWBE firms receive their fair share of city contracts.

I grew up in the stop and frisk era and know what it’s like to be harassed and targeted by the NYPD. Harlem precincts have the highest number of police complaints in Manhattan. Joshua will provide strong oversight of NYPD, demilitarize the police, and give local community precinct councils more authority to ensure our police are held accountable and respond to the concerns of community residents. 

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

The current Council Member has had an honorable career in service to our community. As a Council Member I will bring fresh leadership and increase youth engagement in city politics to champion meaningful change in our everyday lives.

What endorsements do you have? 

We are being considered for and are moving through the screening process with several labor unions.

Billy Council

William Council (D)

Why are you running for City Council?

Having grown up in Harlem, I am all too familiar with the scarcity of opportunity and the impact that it has on both youth and adults, the entire family unit, and thus the community at large. Harlem, District 9 in particular, needs leadership with a holistic view and approach to the good and not so good of Harlem. I am running for City Council because I am that leader with the holistic view. I am running to be a champion for Harlem’s youth, to make Harlem’s streets safe for all residents, to revitalize and increase Black enterprise and entrepreneurship, and to strengthen all of our small businesses because they power our local economy.

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

I was born and raised in Harlem, in District 9. My family has and still calls 129th Street home for over 80 years. Currently, I am the Director of Operations at COVE Lounge. But more importantly, I have consistently coached and mentored youth in Harlem and beyond for the last 25 years, working with a number of schools and organizations, most recently through my nonprofit, CouncilHim Foundation. CouncilHim is committed to the development, maturation, and empowerment of young people. 

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

The biggest challenges are, and have been for a long time, policing, housing, the economy, youth development, senior care, and overall health and wellness. Those are now exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Too many Harlem residents have been left out of those conversations. I plan to use the power of the office to legislate, execute and influence ideas that advocate for everyone in Harlem and the City. So the first step is to educate and engage the community, people at all income levels, and create a pipeline for input; a realistic and reasonable way for them to lend their voices to the process. 

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

Like many who have come before me, I have been involved in the betterment of Harlem for the last 25 years. Recently, I have expanded that involvement to include things such as participating in City Council hearings on legislation, providing testimony, and connecting with other leaders and legislators in Harlem and in other boroughs to understand how our neighborhoods are connected and how we can work together for a better NYC overall. Again, leaning in on a holistic view.  So I am not simply making future promises. I am doing the work now. 

What endorsements do you have?

Currently, I do not have any endorsements. However, I am still fairly new to the race and expect that to change very soon. 

Pierre Gooding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are you running for city council?

I am running for City Council for the second time in my birth place of Harlem to reduce the rampant unemployment, lack of affordable housing and poor school outcomes that have been a part of our community for decades without change.  Our next city councilor must be able to bring together a wide coalition and create laws that immediately improve the lives of Harlemites.  As an attorney, teacher and Deacon I believe I am the right person to do the job and put Harlem first.

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

I live and work in Harlem as a Deacon at Rendall Memorial Church, serving as an attorney for various small businesses and community members who have not been able to access resources.  In 2006 I was teaching English as a Second Language at I.S. 143m Eleanor Roosevelt Junior High School in Washington Heights. I have built very strong relationships with community members through helping to run two homeless shelters overnight in Harlem and Queens, putting a Harlem State Senate scamming the public in jail, bringing home 800 Americans marooned in Ghana, and providing our community with remote learning devices, masks, vaccination advocacy and holiday gifts during the pandemic.  

What’s your political experience?

I ran for City Council in 2017 on both the Democrat and Reform Ballot lines, serving as chairman of the Reform Party in Manhattan.  I previously worked as the Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Uptown Democratic Club.  

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

Our neighborhood has been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, experiencing one of the highest death rates in New York City.  This is due to prior poor health conditions in our district and a lack of leadership during the pandemic. Moving forward leaders must ensure that Harlem receives resources first, not last, to overcome the entrenched discrimination against minorities and the poor found in our current laws and policy.  I will address this inequity by changing policies that hurt our community, like our City Councilor’s failure to utilize participatory budgeting in 2017 leading to $1,000,000 lost in our community and lowering the area median income to move in to affordable housing.  The district will also suffer if City Council does not effectively handle the $20 Billion dollar debt accruing over the next few budget cycles.

I support business creation to make sure New York is successful with our Covid-19 restart. I am in favor of a New York City stimulus to save our Harlemites, New York City residents and small businesses currently struggling to stay afloat financially.    

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

We appreciate the 30 years of service for Councilman Bill Perkins.  But as I publicly stated on television five years ago, our community cannot afford to have 0 sponsored bills coming out of our City Council leadership.  It is irresponsible to every person living in Harlem and New York City.  I will introduce policy to reverse the unfavorable trends in Harlem such as a lack of libraries and certified media specialists in our schools, reward small businesses for hiring within the community, and create housing policy that works for our neighborhood.

What endorsements do you have?

I am proud to have announced endorsements with Leadership for Educational Equity, City Councilwoman Delia Farquharson, County Committeeman Robert Fields Jackson II,  District Leader Candidate Dr. Maurice Franklin, UP-STAND, Bridging Africans & Black Americans (BABA), The 244 Club, Black Rob and more endorsements that we will publicize soon.

Alpheaus Marcus

Alpheaus Marcus (R)

Instead of providing written answers to our questions, Alpheaus Marcus responded by directing us to his campaign video on YouTube. Click the link if you’re interested.

Mario Rosser

Mario Rosser (D)

Why are you running for City Council?

The Council is responsible for directing the flow of public funds and private investment through our city. I’m running for City Council to direct the resources that are flowing through New York to our families in Harlem. Harlem is home to survivors. Our families have survived on minimum wage. But, with the pandemic, we’re facing an eviction epidemic. Harlem’s representative to the New York City Council has the tangible power to advance affordable housing development, family-focused economic recovery and champion investment in underfunded mentorship and youth development programs. This requires a representative with a clear vision and loved experience to build consensus through coalitions – that is me.

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

My journey to Harlem started in Mississippi.  My grandparents migrated to Ohio, where I was born. My mother overcame crack cocaine addiction shortly before I was born. I grew up coming home to eviction notices on my front door and on my block more kids went to jail than to college. My life changed as a teenager when I got a letter under the door admitting me to Columbia University and in Harlem I found home. I’ve spent my career working at the intersection of advocacy, technology and business. I’m a partnerships manager at LinkedIn where I help startups grow through the platform. I live right across the street from the lively St. Nicholas Park.

What’s your political experience?

I’ve been involved in politics since I was 14 years old when I started as a youth organizer for a Black trades union. I was a field organizer for President Obama’s re-election campaign. I worked on a US Senate campaign and legislative advocacy Fellow for an anti-poverty program called RESULTS. But my real experience comes from being Black in America.

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

Harlem is facing three major challenges: (1) A looming eviction epidemic exacerbated by the pandemic, (2) high unemployment and small business closures, and (3) underfunded public services from schools and youth programs to public safety resources. On housing, I support funding NYCHA renovations through economic stimulus dollars, preserving affordable housing by adjusting and building on the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program and building more by elevating the work of minority builders who have a track record building affordable units. On economic recovery, I will advocate for public works employment programs, expanding job apprenticeships and small business relief legislation. On investment in our youth, I will prioritize public-private partnership and mentorship. The difference between Council members who are effective and those who are not is the ability to lean in and bring visibility to issues. I don’t believe in throwing money at an issue, and I believe every challenge has a solution.

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

Every issue that every resident is facing stems from long-term systemic disinvestment in our communities. I will use the office as a vehicle to make material improvements to the everyday lives of our families, and secure District-specific commitments from outside investment.

What endorsements do you have?

While most elected officials and institutions have not yet weighed in on this race, we expect to announce some exciting endorsements in the coming weeks.

Sheba Simpson

Sheba Simpson-Amsterdam (D)

Why are you running for City Council?

I’m running for City Council because I am tired of the elected official that I have voted for not keeping the promises they made to help improve the quality of life for my community.  My community is suffering from the over saturation of drug clinics, the underfunded schools, the poor quality of healthcare and the skyrocketing rents that are pricing out long time Harlemites.  In addition, the small businesses in Harlem are closing at an alarming rate.  So much so I founded the Central Harlem merchants Coalition To Save  Small Businesses and Jobs.  Businesses owners are facing two crises and the current city council can mitigate the crises, by voting and passing the Small Business Jobs Survival Act.

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

As a mother of three and a grandmother of five, I know how difficult it can be to raise a family in the most expensive city in the five boroughs. Like many others in my community, I have often had to choose between feeding my children and paying the rent, and the fear of eviction when rent money must be used to pay an unforeseen medical bill or car repair.

For over 20 years, I have been a racial equity teacher in the Bronx. I have a professional license in Special Education, School Building Leader, and School District Leadership. I also have  earned a myriad of certificates over the course of my career, including Restorative Justice and Conflict Resolution.

Whenever I’m asked about my best experience as an educator, my answer is always the same: The relationships i have with students and families. Knowing that I have made a difference in my  students’ lives is the wind that keeps me going.

What’s your political experience?

I have no political experience except for navigating the political arena of public education and fighting to get the needed services for my double differently abled son.  I know what it takes to fight for what is right for the many and not the few.  I know that it takes tenacity and  internal fortitude to seek justice for those communities, like mine that have systematically and purposely been ignored and underfunded.

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

My community was in crisis prior to COVID-19 and it has been exasperated since the pandemic.  We have one the highest unemployment rates in the city, many life threatening illnesses, impending evictions, small businesses closing, food insecurity and our schools are horribly underfunded.

I’m not waiting to be elected; I’m doing the work now to help my community.  I have had several clothing, food and voter registration drives. I’m working with an Australian radio show to bring a radio show to Harlem to teach middle and high school Black and Latinx students how to become radio hosts. They will learn technology, public speaking, leadership skills and how to self-advocate.  

In addition,  I’m working with Simon Rigg, the director of the Sculptors Guild on an Art project that will teach and build on young people’s artistic talents. I am a member of the Harlem Coalition to have the over-saturation of drug clinics removed from our community. As I mentioned before, Im working with small businesses to demand justice for their businesses and to protect jobs, 

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

Bill Perkins has been missing in action from the community.  Calls and emails go unanswered from constituents about real concerns they are having.  He has failed to push to have the Small Business Jobs Survival Act voted on.  He has failed to write policy that would benefit our community.

I will make it a priority to create policy for accessibility to the differently abled community, stronger animal protection laws and get the funding for sustainable resources and service for seniors; as well as low and affordable housing for the most vulnerable in the community.

What endorsements do you have?

I am endorsed by 21 In 21.

Keith Taylor

Keith Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are you running for City Council?

I will utilize my knowledge, skills and abilities as a former social worker, New York City assistant commissioner, law enforcement professional, and emergency management professional to address systemic inequities and injustices the Central Harlem community is facing, including public health/COVID-19 response disparities, criminal justice inequities,  lack of affordable housing, chronic underemployment, and continued educational challenges.

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

I am a Manhattan District 9 Central Harlem resident. I am a father, husband, son, educator, public safety professional, historic preservationist, disability rights advocate, community activist. Columbia University doctorate in education; two Masters of Arts from the Naval Postgraduate School in National Security Studies and the City College of New York in Sociology; Bachelor of Science from Howard University. Current leadership roles in Board of Trustees member of the Bronx Arts and Science Charter School, Harlem Independent Living Center, Community Board 10, Manhattan Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Historic Districts Council. Former Board member of Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Pillars Wholistic Recovery Support.

What’s your political experience?

I have been involved in policy and politics in Harlem over the last 30 years, starting as a caseworker at Harlem Dowling Westside Childrens Services in 1988 up to a commissioner at the NYC Department of Correction thirty years later. I have been in leadership positions at Central Harlem’s Community Board 10 over the last twelve years. 

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

My platform will focus on aggressively resolving homelessness, provide affordable housing and home ownership opportunities, as well as strong support to those facing evictions now and in the future. I will focus on fighting police injustices through legislative reform, as well as provide more quality educational opportunities and programming for Harlem’s youth. I will focus on robust small business recovery efforts, and will address systemic public health inequities, especially evidenced through the COVID-19 pandemic inequities in treatment and health outcomes. 

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

I will leverage federal and state efforts to provide economic relief to NYC to make certain that Harlem is at the forefront of communities receiving economic aid, not only because of COVID-19, but because of the systemic issues of poverty, crime and injustices the Harlem community suffered from before the pandemic existed. I will work with relevant stakeholders to further the goal of ensuring affordable housing, public health equity, and educational and criminal justice reform to ensure Harlem receives its fair share of governmental resources.

What endorsements do you have?

Endorsements will be announced shortly.

Demetrius Wilson

Demetrius Wilson (D)

Why are you running for City Council?

I am running for city council because it feels like a necessity. Our world as a whole is in desperate need of real change, and I believe I can start that change from right here in my hometown.

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

A lot of these questions can be explored at my website, https://www.dwilsoncampaign.com. In brief, however, I am a young, working class black man from Harlem who was born here, lives here, and wants to see my hometown thrive.

What’s your political experience?

I am not a traditional politician. I have stayed politically engaged for quite a while, and I know, based on the data, what the right policies are to Build a Better Harlem.

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

Healthcare, Housing, Gun violence. All of these can be addressed with a similar philosophy: Bold economic policy. Free healthcare at the point of service, affordable quality housing, and a universal basic income would all help mitigate crime in addition to their obvious benefits. I would add in support for small businesses, funding for local schools and raising the minimum wage to the livable wage of $23/hour all will help drive down crime, as we’re giving more opportunities to the people.

What will you do differently than the incumbent?

For starters, I will pursue actual impactful policies instead of doing seemingly nothing for the past few decades. Our health outcomes are some of the worst in the nation. Our schools are some of the worst in the nation. It has to be possible to do better.

What endorsements do you have?

So far, just my friends and family. I don’t exactly come from a typical political background. But we’ll get there.

More from around NYC