12 Top Issues for Brooklyn Voters in the Mayoral Election
- Jobs: Brooklyn's unemployment rate remains high. And, of course those most badly hit are the least able to afford it. Job creation citywide but also in Brooklyn, through support of entrepreneurship, of mom-and-pops, and of small business-friendly services will help. Which candidate has the best job creation policy?
- Affordable Housing: Whole sections of Brooklyn aren't benefiting from the "renaissance" of the borough, and one good measure of this is a paucity of affordable public housing. If we don't want to be Manhattan (read, mostly very wealthy) then strong policies for public housing have to be put in place. It takes time to build homes. Which candidate will do the best for Brooklyn?
- Health: Brooklyn's health stats aren't so great. We Brooklynites have more than our fair share of chronic conditions that we could improve with lifestyle improvements. In Brooklyn there is both high incidence of adult and childhood obesity and diabetes. While some areas are feasting on expensive organic goodies, thousands of children and adults in Brooklyn's poor neighborhoods continue to have high rates of food insecurity and lack access to affordable fresh produce. The outgoing administrations (both Mayor Bloomberg and Borough President Markowitz) have promoted good personal health habits, and maybe that has helped some folks get in shape and lose weight. What are the candidates saying about health?
- Hospital and Health Care Access: Brooklyn's population seems to be growing but we are losing community hospitals like LICH. Everyone can't be trekking into Manhattan when we need hospital care. And such Brooklyn based hospitals as Maimonides are already busy. There's an imbalance between community demand and hospital coverage. What are the candidates doing to keep local hospitals?
- Education & Programs for Kids: Schools and education: It's a perennial discussion. Brooklyn has a broad range of students, in terms of language, background, educational needs and other categories of diversity. The borough needs excellent early childhood education -- for which, seemingly, there's never enough funding -- as well as improvement in the teacher to child ratio, physical facilities and educational enrichment and support programs in many elementary, junior and high schools. Which candidate will do the best job for our kids?
- Developers Changing the Face of Neighborhoods: Highrises are popping up along the Brooklyn waterfront, and in corridors such as 4th Avenue. But are the big developments being paralleled by upgrades in basic facilities such as schools, sewage and garbage services? What are the candidates promising us about dealing with the inevitable challenges of all this hi-rise, hi-density development going on in Atlantic Yards in Fort Greene, throughout Williamsburg, and in Gowanus, Bushwick, and elsewhere?
- The Income Gap and Gentrification: On a community level, tensions can arise when there are huge income gaps. And huge income gaps do arise when low income neighborhoods suddenly turn trendy. In a best case scenario, people get along. In a worst case scenario, there can be a spike in racism, disgruntlement, crime, and conflict. If Brooklyn is going to remain a boom town, then what polices might mitigate not just the conflict, but the core issue, the actual income gap and related disparities?
- Stop & Frisk, Guns & Public Safety: A hot-button issue city wide, the current controversy over "stop and frisk" certainly impacts Brooklyn's sizable African American population. What are the candidates' positions on stop and frisk, gun-running into New York City, and crime issues in Brooklyn neighborhoods?
- Environment: If you're worried about global warming, environmental degradation and greening of our urban landscape, then this is an area worth comparing the candidates on. Are they supporting sustainable policies, recycling, and energy efficiency, and if they say they are, then exactly how? In this category one might also inquire as to any future plans for waste plants, and where the Superfund gunk from Gowanus and Newtown Creek is going to be put. Finally, do we really want a huge gas pipeline in Jamaica Bay ?
- Super Storm Recovery and Future Prevention: A year after Hurricane Sandy, a lot of Brooklyn residents are still reeling, still in recovery mode. Looking forward, Mayor Bloomberg outlined a humongous, multi-billion dollar-plan for shoring up the City to prevent future storm related disasters and flooding. Brooklyn's vulnerable. What are the candidates saying about protecting Brooklyn's many waterfront communities?
- Immigration Reform: Brooklyn was born as a borough of immigrants, and in certain areas such as Flatbush and Sunset Park, our immigrant census remains high. The national immigration reform debate may be centered on Washington, DC, but in the meanwhile, what are the candidates saying about both the legal and illegal immigrants in our borough?
- The "Tech Corridor:" Technology companies can bring jobs, and there's a movement to try to increase the number of technology businesses in the DUMBO-Downtown Brooklyn area. What would the candidates do, specifically, to help realize this vision and maybe spread the wealth?
This Election Matters to Brooklyn, So Vote
Whomever your candidate of choice, be sure to vote in the primaries (if you are a registered Democrat), and in the election for NYC Mayor. Wisdom has it that whichever candidate wins the September 2013 primaries has a very good chance of becoming the next Mayor of New York. And yeah, that includes Brooklyn. Even if the field of candidates doesn't excite you, Brooklyn's got a lot at stake. Vote.