A new year means new resolutions, objectives and goals for those representing the constituents of Bushwick. Last week, Bushwick Daily spoke with six local elected officials, as some settled into their new or renewed positions, to ask about their goals for 2022. Across the board, our leaders pointed to housing, healthcare and employment as top priorities. 

While all the officials identified Covid recovery as a health goal, other non-Covid health issues were at the forefront as well. Asher Freeman, chief of staff to Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, named improving maternal mortality as Reynoso’s top priority. “The statistics are pretty staggering around Black women dying during childbirth in Brooklyn.” 

“Reynoso is going to be working to put together a task force on maternal mortality and is committed to allocating a significant portion of his capital budget to outfit all our public hospitals with state-of-the-art maternity wards,” Freeman added. 

Assemblymember Erik Dilan, who represents Assembly District 54, echoed support for maternal care, and he is aiming to pass Assembly Bill A6889, which would require employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees following a miscarriage or stillbirth. 

Councilmember Sandy Nurse, who represents City Council District 37, also identified working to solve Brooklyn’s unequal healthcare outcomes as a goal for 2022. “We have some public safety net hospitals, we have a lot of the healthcare network here in our district, but we need to continue to resource these agencies, programs and services.”

Beyond healthcare, Nurse pointed to climate change work as a top priority, “We have some longer term goals around preparing our city for the climate crisis. That involves equitable upgrades of our infrastructure, our public works system and power and water systems.” 

This is something which State Senator Julia Salazar agrees with. She supports the Build Public Renewables Act, which would require the New York Power Authority to provide only renewable energy and power to customers. 

Another broad theme of the officials’ plans for the new year revolves around housing. “We want to ensure housing for all New Yorkers,” said Nurse. “That involves addressing tenant needs and access for tenants to legal counsel and services, supporting basement conversions, or trying to transform the tax lien sale that hurts small homeowners. We want to support the organizing effort to extend the cease and desist zone to all of Brooklyn.”

Regarding tenant needs, Assemblymember Maritza Davila, representing Assembly District 53, is “looking forward to helping pass Good Cause Eviction to help protect our tenants and secure more funds for emergency rent arrears.” Salazar concurred, noting the Good Cause Eviction bill will help address the housing crisis. 

Multiple officials pointed towards passing bills that would help the re-entry of individuals from incarceration into society. 

Davila stated that one of her goals in the Assembly is to pass “a comprehensive, structured re-entry program for formerly incarcerated individuals.” 

One bill that may aid this effort is Dilan’s Assembly Bill A3285, which aims to “provide a clean slate” for “minors with no prior arrest or criminal records who are found innocent or have their cases dismissed”. 

Salazar noted that she supports “reforming parole by enacting Elder Parole and Fair and Timely Parole”. 

Looking forward, all officials were optimistic about their upcoming plans in Bushwick. City Councilmember Jennifer Gutiérrez, who represents City Council District 34, added, “I am personally invested in making the communities of the 34th Council District an even better place to call home for future generations, like my daughter.” 

However, the best solutions might not come from the top. “We want to, as much as possible, create opportunities for our communities to gather and think about how we solve some of these issues,” said Nurse. “My theory is the folks closest to the challenges, problems and crises are the ones who have some of the best ideas on how to move through them.”

To that end, please contact the officials mentioned in this story at the following numbers to voice concerns, ideas, or questions, so that we can help Bushwick together: 

  • State Assemblymember Maritza Davila: (718) 443-1205
  • State Assemblymember Erik Dilan: (718) 386-4576
  • City Councilmember Jennifer Gutiérrez: (718) 963-3141
  • City Councilmember Sandy Nurse: (718) 642-8664
  • Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso: (718) 802-3700
  • State Senator Julia Salazar: (718) 573-1726.

Featured image: Sandy Nurse. Taken by John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit.

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