“Where do you see yourself at this time next year?” wasn’t always such a loaded question. Before COVID-19, forward thinkers could confidently project ahead 365 days to find themselves seated in a restaurant booked to capacity, rubbing shoulders with fellow theatergoers, or making good on the “If I’m elected” promises that swept you into office.
At this time next year, that last scenario will be brought to you by either Lindsey Boylan, Elizabeth Caputo, Brad Hoylman, Ben Kallos, Mark Levine, or Kim Watkins. They’re the six people determined to be replace term-limited Gale Brewer as Manhattan Borough President (MBP).
Chelsea Community News begins its coverage of this race with a Q&A that’s as curious about the person as it is about their policies. All candidates were sent the same questions. Below, find responses from New York State Senator Brad Hoylman. As other candidates respond, we’ll add the hyperlink to their Q&A at the tail end of this one. For info about the Primary Election (June 22) and the General Election (Nov. 2), visit https://vote.nyc.
Scott Stiffler for Chelsea Community News (CCNews): Regarding the biographical information on your website: What policy, belief, or personal detail describes you nicely, and why?
New York State Senator Brad Hoylman: My personal story is one of amazing educational opportunities that led to me overcoming deep personal adversities and modest family resources to pursue my dreams. Every New Yorker deserves that chance, but they need the tools to do so. I believe that’s the fundamental role of government—to provide the services and resources so the most vulnerable can thrive. Whether it’s working families, tenants, our seniors, women and minority owned businesses, or the hundreds of thousands of unemployed Manhattanites in sectors ranging from the arts to restaurants, we owe it to them to help pay the rent, put food on the table, provide good schools, and get to work on time. I’m proud to have helped protect New Yorkers from eviction during the pandemic, increased benefits, made it easier to get a vaccine and fought for a 24/7 mass transit system.
CCNews: Conflict and Compromise: What do these words mean to you, in terms of how you will be an effective BP?
Hoylman: In the public realm, sometimes you need to fight like hell to reach a compromise. But unfortunately, the community is generally not on a level playing field with the powerful special interests on the other side of the table, whether it be developers, landlords or sometimes the government itself. I’d like to the Borough President to be the hub of collective action in a post-pandemic Manhattan, to take on the bullies that undermine the public interest – something I’ve been doing in Albany for the last ten years, fighting the NRA, Big Tobacco, Anti-vaxxers, the insurance industry, and even Donald Trump. I’m energized to bring my organizing skills to this office.
CCNews: The time machine has been invented. Once you’ve played the stock market, it’s time to visit your younger self. What one action do you tell this person not to take? Which one action do you choose not to mention, because it has to happen in order to make you who you are?
Hoylman: If I had to do it over again, I’d definitely ask a boy to the senior prom! (Plus, I don’t think Lori, my date, had such a great time.) I’m so proud of young people taking advantage of the seismic shift in LGBTQ+ rights over the last decade advanced by pioneers like Tom Duane, Deborah Glick, Chris Quinn and Margarita Lopez. I stand on their shoulders and am excited to be the first LGBTQ+ borough president if I’m elected.
The one action I’d choose not to mention is whether to go on that blind date with my now husband, David. We just celebrated our 27th anniversary, and along with our 3- and 10-year-old daughters, I couldn’t be happier. Although we may be the oldest two parents in Manhattan on our first marriage.
CCNews: Day One, what will you do to create a better NYC, post-pandemic? What are you able to do in the meantime, as a candidate?
Hoylman: Day One, I’ll initiate community-led plannings (197-a) in every community board to help set local priorities on climate action, affordable housing and open space. In the meantime, I’m active as a State Senator. During the pandemic I’ve helped thousands of New Yorkers get unemployment benefits and hundreds get COVID-19 vaccine and test appointments, as well as distributed PPE to hospitals and health clinics and thousands of food boxes to seniors and families in NYCHA. Recently, I’ve passed legislation that will help us push back on the nearly 1000% rise in hate crimes against the Asian-American community and banned the unfair and discriminatory statute, called the “Walking While Trans Ban,” which allowed law enforcement to target transgender women of color simply for what the clothes they wore or the street corner where they hung out.
CCNews: Favorite Golden Girl: Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia, or Rose?
Hoylman: I aspire to be Dorothy Zbornak, in part because I was so impressed with the real-life Bea Arthur who was a champion for queer homeless youth. She not only starred in benefits for the Ali Forney Center, but she also left part of her estate to help create the Bea Arthur Residence for LGBTQ+ Youth in the East Village. Talk about winning over the next generation of fans!
CCNews: You took the time to answer our questions—even that last one, which, frankly, was a little gimmicky. So in the interest of fairness, we end by turning the tables: What one question do you want voters to ask themselves when they see so many choices on the ballot?
Hoylman: I think it’s important for voters to ask themselves not just what a candidate says they’ll do, but what they’ve actually done. I hope my record shows that I am not only a vocal progressive but also an effective and productive public servant.
NOTE: To see Chelsea Community News’ Q&A with Lindsey Boylan, click on her name, which appeared earlier in this… sentence.
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