As the father of two public school-educated teenage sons and the husband of a public school nurse, I know firsthand who is hurt the most by overcrowded classrooms and undercut schools. All our sons and daughters deserve better, and I will fight to make sure they receive the most from their education. And because our communities matter, I will work hard to ensure that highest quality after-school programs become more available, and that schools have the tools they need to keep kids safe and instill a lifelong love of learning.
I also know firsthand what it means for a family to take on the expense of continuing a child’s education. As your city councilman, I will continue to work with my colleagues in Albany to make sure our CUNY and SUNY institutions receive the necessary funding to allow aspiring Bronxites an affordable path to a better future.
Maintaining and preserving our communities is an important task, which is why one of my first actions as your councilman will be to work with the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency and Recovery to develop a plan to protect our shoreline. New York City must take steps to shield Locust Point, City Island and Edgewater Park from future damage that may be incurred during the next Super Storm Sandy.
Protecting against storm water surges isn’t all these communities need, however. I am committed to drafting legislation to combat the high costs of flood insurance and do whatever it takes to keep these communities intact and families in their homes.
The negative impacts of rezoning, real estate taxes, and water and sewer rate increases have all hit The Bronx hard. Worse, these changes have all occurred without input from members of the community. Promises for lower rates from the Mayor’s office have not been kept. Meanwhile, empty storefronts haunt the commercial corridors in Pelham Bay, Throggs Neck, City Island, Westchester Square, and Morris Park.
We must make sure our commercial corridors remain viable, creating jobs and providing the goods and services necessary for good quality of life. As your councilman, I will work to create Business Improvement Districts in these corridors and ensure that what is built is maintained.
We cannot, must not and will not ignore increases in our homeless population. It is unsafe and inhumane to allow a situation where transients have taken up residence in Pelham Bay Park and the Pelham Bay Terminal Station. The only way to attack this increase in numbers is to deliver high quality services.
It is time to stop pushing homeless families and individuals into hotels and motels without support services and the possibility of transitioning into long-term housing. Without the offer of stability we are not helping these individuals or bettering our communities.
I will work with anyone, the mayor, the governor, the public advocate, my colleagues in Albany and my future colleagues on the city council to address this issue and find creative solutions to permanently fix it.
It’s simple: Our police precincts need additional officers. While the City may not consider our District to be a high crime area, we need a leader who will convince them otherwise. I will not ignore the recent uptick in drug crimes and will fight to have the NYPD return the much needed drug module to the 45th precinct.
Improving quality of life doesn’t happen city-wide or even borough wide. Your quality of life is impacted by what happens on your street, around the block or during the walk home from your train station, bus station, or local grocery store. Focusing on local, community issues has always been my greatest concern. As your councilman, I will fight to get long overdue soundproofing at the gun range at Rodman's Neck and ensure the NYPD can remain a presence in our community without creating a nuisance. And I will fight against future City efforts to open another version of the homeless shelter at the Capri Whitestone Motel. I will always stand up for our fire stations, work to improve our local schools and fight back against graffiti and drugs. These are fights I was made for.
Besides serving the Bronx in Albany, I also launched “Gjonaj C.A.R.E.S,” a volunteer-based initiative that serves the community in activities like park clean ups, assisting after school programs and helping out senior centers. Community, Accountability, Responsibility, Encouragement, and Service are values I believe in and I’ve been pleased to partner with neighborhood associations and the NYPD Explorers in this work, as well as create volunteer opportunities for local high school students.