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August 11, 2013

The City Council Race: 3 Reasons You Should Care

New_York_City_Hall

Raise your hand if you’re jaded by elections. You should be. You are smart enough to know that politics is a dirty game, designed to keep things the same, and you know too often our votes don’t translate into real change. So you’ve stopped voting in City Council elections or never have.

I feel you. Why should you give a flying (insert expletive) about voting for someone you’ve probably never heard of in the approaching local elections (yes there are elections coming up) when you could be working, applying for jobs, or catching up on sleep?

Here are 3 reasons why you should care:

1) Money. Money. Money. In case you don’t know, whoever represents our community in the city council will have real power. I know because I used to work for a city council member. They get millions to fund after school programs, new roads, senior centers, cultural institutions, job readiness programs, alternatives to incarceration, etc.

Don’t believe me? To see what Bed-Stuy’s current Council Member, Al Vann, has funded for fiscal year 14 click here. The dollar amount is about as much as you’d find between the cushions of Bloomberg’s local, organic, alpaca skin curbed couch, that is, a lot for us common folks.

And it’s your tax dollars. Your own tax money can’t buy your love?

2) How they vote, can change your life.

The votes of city council members will matter on legislation as transformative as the community safety act, paid sick leave, and land use changes in the Bed-Stuy. According to Communities United for Policy Reform, the recently passed Community Safety Act enables New Yorkers to bring intentional discrimination claims and/or disparate impact claims, though not for monetary damages, among other changes to policing. Think that’s important? Well the city council voted for it and has the power to actually see that it becomes law.

Wouldn’t you want a city council member who supports what you care about?

36CD 3) You’ve got options! For the first time in more than a decade, Bed-Stuy will elect a new City Council representative. Our current City Council rep is term limited and on his way out. The race to determine who should represent Bed-Stuy and North Crown Heights has five candidates. You can learn about them at our Power Lever Project.

Now you may be thinking, they’re all cut from the same cloth because they’re all democrats, right? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t think so but that’s for you to decide. They only differentiate themselves as much as voters ask them questions.

One group of voters who has asked them about a thing or two are endorsers. I am not going to name names but you might be surprised at who has or hasn’t endorsed each candidate. Take a look at their web pages to see. You can access them through our voter guide too.

VotersA city council candidate can gain the legislative and financial power to shape your life and the community by winning an election with just a few thousand votes, even less in the primaries, which means YOU can s(win)g an election with a few votes.

The few thousand votes we cast this September and November will have impacts that last years. Not voting is a losing battle.

About this author

James Subudhi

James Subudhi

James Subudhi has lived in NYC for over 10 yrs and is thankful to call Bedford-Stuyvesant home. He is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Urban Policy and Management at Milano with a focus in politics and research under the guidance of former Missouri State Senator Jeffrey Smith. Before attending graduate school, he built the capacity of activists of color to apply a structural racism analysis to transportation issues at the Center for Social Inclusion and led West Harlem Environmental Action’s food justice and open space campaigns. In his spare time he enjoys blogging for the BMC, building solar powered electronics, making lamps, playing music, hitting up the Bed Stuy YMCA, and running the blog: bedstuynews.net. You can follow him on twitter at Subudhi1.

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