Five hoping to replace Andrew Cohen in representing the northwest Bronx staked out different positions on housing, policing, the budget and more.
To walk through the 11th Council district is to transcend worlds, from the big lots and huge houses of Fieldston to the dense streets of northern Bedford Park, from Jewish enclaves in Riverdale through Irish Woodlawn down to majority Latino Norwood and over to predominantly Black Wakefield.
The candidates running to fill a vacancy in the 11th district Council seat who showed up for Sunday’s NYCD16 Indivisible/City Limits candidates forum reflected some of that diversity–in their backgrounds, and in their answers.
Carlton Berkley, Eric Dinowitz, Jessica Haller, Mino Lora and Dan Padernacht are five of the six candidates on the March 23 ballot to finish the final term of Andrew Cohen, who left office early for a judgeship.
Kevin Pazmino is also on the ballot but did not reply to invitations.
Whatever the outcome in next month’s nonpartisan race, more than one of the candidates, as well as some other names, are very likely to be in the mix in the June 22nd Democratic primary to determine who gets to run in November for a full term.
The questions candidates answered Sunday included:
The City Council is considering replacing the city’s current style of selective and occasional rezonings with a system of comprehensive planning, in which land-use decisions would be made regularly and citywide. One goal of this move would be to encourage more equitable growth in density around the city. Do you think every neighborhood in the 11th district should be prepared to accept higher density as part of a comprehensive plan?
Should the city change the way students are admitted to the selective high schools, including Bronx Science and the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, and if so, how?
It is widely acknowledged that New York City, and the world, need to sharply reduce or eliminate dependence on fossil fuels. How aggressive should the city be on its own? Should we ban new gas hookups now, even if that raises costs, or wait for renewable energy sources to mature?
Given the state of COVID recovery, is it appropriate to open middle schools on February 25th, and should high schools also be opened this spring?
What steps could the city take right now to help small business who’ve suffered because of COVID?
Once a COVID-19 vaccine is approved for children and teachers, should NYC public school children be required—with exemptions for medical problems but not for religious objections—to receive it?
The COVID-19 crisis has put the city’s budget under unexpected and extreme pressure, but some observers say the city exposed itself to risk by expanding the budget too much over the past seven years. Do you believe the city spent too much? How will you vote if you are asked to approve a budget that makes significant cuts?
Some believe the COVID-19 crisis has irreversibly accelerated underlying trends that threaten neighborhood retail. In other words, they suspect that many of the stores that have been shuttered will never come back. Do you support converting commercial and office space in the district to residential to increase the housing supply?
Do you want to see the NYPD budget or headcount reduced and, if so, by what amount and how would that change our approach to public safety?
Should sex work be decriminalized? Are there any other laws on the books that you would recommend not enforcing?
The city is in the midst of a plan to create 120,000 new units of housing and preserve 180,000 other apartments across a range of incomes. Should the city subsidize housing for moderate- and middle-income families to encourage income mixing, or should it focus its housing resources on the poorest?
The plan to close Rikers Island hinges on building borough jails, including one proposed for Mott Haven. If the current Bronx location were scrapped, would you accept a jail in our district in order to facilitate mothballing Rikers?
In many neighborhoods in District 11, parking has become extremely difficult. Should we address this, and if so, how, or should we move toward a car-free city?
Who is the best mayor you have lived under?
If elected to the Council, which committee will you insist on being assigned to?
Who are you supporting for mayor?
Who will be your number 2 choice in this election, using ranked-choice voting?
Have you been the victim of or benefited from racism?