As Primary Day Looms, Our Representation is Missing in Action

Photo of Phelan Dante Fitzpatrick courtesy of Citizens for Equality NYC

BY PHELAN DANTE FITZPATRICK (Candidate, City Council District 3) | Where are Corey and Erik? Are they helping small businesses recover from the pandemic? Are they off creating more affordable housing so that people can actually live here? Maybe they’re tackling the behemoth problem of systemic racism in our police force?

I wish the answer to any of those questions were yes. But, unfortunately, Corey Johnson and Erik Bottcher – our councilmember and his chief of staff–are so busy chasing their own political ambitions that they’ve left the residents of District 3 behind. 

When I first decided to run for City Council, it was exactly because they went missing. As a small business operator for 16 years, I needed help when the pandemic struck. The rules were unclear, how I was expected to pay rent didn’t make any sense, and perhaps most painstaking: I had a large and diverse staff that needed financial assistance and access to social services they never needed before.

But Corey and Erik were nowhere to be found.

I reached out to their office for help several times, and never received a single response. At first I thought “Well, they must be really busy helping other small businesses in the district.” I was wrong. What they were actually busy doing was fundraising hundreds of thousands of dollars to secure themselves jobs while the rest of us were losing ours. My unemployment taxes went to Erik’s $160,000 City Council salary.

I know I’m not alone. Since we started this campaign, I’ve met countless West Siders who experienced the same sense of abandonment by the people they elected–and paid–to look out for their best interests. And even more recently we’ve read reports that Corey hasn’t even stepped foot in the district for months.

We’re left to fend for ourselves. Our councilmember was busy running for mayor, now comptroller. And his chief of staff, who theoretically could and should have filled the gaps for us in his boss’s absence, was preoccupied shaking hands and getting photo ops as he mounted his own bid to use our council seat as a stepping stone. This is aside from the fact that financial disclosures show he is being supported by PAC money from real estate developers who will stop at nothing to ensure NYC stays comfortable for the privileged. He’s promised over and over not to take that kind of cash.

Listen–we may not all agree on the same politics. You may be reading this and thinking “I actually kind of like what Corey and Erik have to say about this issue or that issue.” But at the end of the day, we can all agree that a no-show representative is unequivocally unacceptable.

Why am I running for City Council? Because we deserve better. My daughter deserves better. Our nation is divided, our citizens are struggling, and our city is rising from the ashes after a devastating pandemic. We need to stand up for ourselves and break the political machine. It clearly isn’t getting the job done.

Phelan Dante Fitzpatrick is a candidate for District 3 in the New York City Council. 

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