Highly skilled local workers for assimilation into a more technologically advanced workforce is one need that two at least two Democratic candidates agree exists for the people of District 12, which encompasses the Woodlawn, Wakefield, Williamsbridge, Baychester, Eastchester, Olinville, and Edenwald communities.
The current seat holder, Andy King, sees education as a key factor in people being equipped for employment. For him, education goes beyond high school if one wants to get a trade. Running for his second full term, he says his platform remains the same as it has since he was first elected in a 2012 special election.
“We are by no stretch of the imagination at 100 percent of excellence as far as our quality of life”, he says.
Raised in the district, King has witnessed the neighborhood’s progression over the years. He’s committed to improving education by providing technology upgrades and also to channeling money into senior centers, as well as keeping the community clean through his 12th District Clean-Up Day. As for what he wants voters to know before Election Day, he highlights the importance of exercising one’s right to vote: “Let’s get out and vote. With that power to vote, comes economic power, community power, and political power.”
King chairs the Council’s subcommittee on libraries. He’s also on the civil rights, community development, education, sanitation and youth services committees. King has proposed 33 laws during his time in the Council and five have been enacted, the most recent being a 2016 campaign finance measure that prohibited contributions from non-registered political committees to candidates who are not participating in the city’s public matching program.
One of his opponents on the September 12 primary ballot is Karree-Lyn Gordon, a Bronx native with 25 years of advocacy experience. She is passionate about providing resources and services that benefit the community and has worked with nonprofit organizations such as,Save the Children and Education Alternatives Inc.
She says she ran because wanted to shift the district’s dynamics and restore power back into the community’s hands. She explains, “People should be empowered to tell us what they want and it is our job to get those wants to the people.” If elected, her platform will include participatory budgeting, improving community colleges and four-year colleges, strengthening small businesses, and creating resource centers for immigrants.
The latter is a cause near and dear to her as she is a first-generation American with immigrant parents from Jamaica. With a district that is 41 percent immigrant, she says she “stands for the voice of the immigrants, as well as, for all Americans.” When asked what she thinks of King’s track record thus far, she put forth that it’s not for her to decide. Yet, she did mention that City & State magazine recently ranked King 42 out of 51 City Councilmembers.
The third candidate for Council is Pamela Hamilton-Johnson. She is the executive director and founder of Urban Neighborhood and she was a candidate in the 2016 State Senate race. Her platform includes restoring the original route to the 41 and 26 bus, avoiding cuts to senior centers and job development centers, and enlisting more STEM and STEAM programs in school. While Hamilton-Johnson raised only $5,900, she skillfully used public-matching funds to more than quintuple her war chest and now has about $24,000 on hand—more than King, who raised much more ($145,000) but also spent $134,000 and does not participate in the matching funds program. Hamilton-Johnson could not be reached to comment for this article.
Democrats of the 12th district will also be voting for mayor, borough president and public advocate. Mayor de Blasio faces four challengers—Sal Albanese, Robert Gangi, Richard Bashner and Michael Tolkin. Letitia James and Ruben Diaz, Jr. are looking to retain their respective positions as public advocate and Borough President. David C. Eisenbach is running against James while Diaz is battling against Camella D. Price and Avery Selkridge.