The results are in, and North Brooklyn has chosen Jennifer Gutiérrez, the former chief of staff to Brooklyn Borough President-Elect Antonio Reynoso, as the 34th District City Council representative — a feat the Queens-born activist accomplished while nine months pregnant.
The daughter of Colombian immigrants, Gutiérrez rose from activist to City Council member fighting for affordable housing, environmental equity and equity within the city’s public education system. Moving into her new role as Reynoso’s successor, the veteran of New York City politics is laser-focused on applying her talent for organizing in City Hall.
Gutiérrez spoke with Bushwick Daily to outline her accomplishments and goals as the new leader for parts of Bushwick, Ridgewood and Williamsburg.
Under Reynoso, whom she considers a mentor and an ally in advancing her own agenda, Gutiérrez was instrumental in pushing key action on participatory budgeting, a hot button item that seeks to increase transparency and empower residents to determine how public money is spent.
Her efforts led to more than $5 million in city funds allocated to public schools, community infrastructure, green space and the New York City Housing Authority. What’s more, Gutiérrez met calls to redirect a bloated NYPD budget to community-based solutions, a cause she pledges to continue championing.
“I was a big proponent of reducing (the NYPD’s) budget. I was a big proponent of budget justice. We want to make sure that the issues that we’re highlighting are not resolved by (more police), but more resources. So what we’re talking about, kind of doubling down on school security, that makes me worried. Why are we not addressing the fact that more young people have access to guns? And then your solution is more metal detectors and expanding public safety? I just think sometimes the way that the administrations think about public safety is a little bit backwards. It’s a little bit reversed.”
Gutiérrez was also a leader of District 34’s constituent and legislative service operations and took initiative of negotiating the expansion of the Nuestros Niños Child Development School, as well as leading public actions on childcare.
District 34 Rep
Having served for eight years as second-in-command in the office she will now assume, Gutiérrez said she feels well-equipped to lead North Brooklyn and advocate for the community’s needs.
In addition to furthering action on transforming public safety, Guitterez said she is keeping her ear to the ground to best represent the needs of her constituents. Expanding the community school model in Brooklyn and throughout the city is one way she plans to incorporate the people into her legislative planning.
“Once this partnership is created, community members will decide what their needs are. If the number-one issue is kids not being able to see a doctor because their parents are working, then we go into partnership with a local medical provider to make sure they have access to that in the school building. A lot of our solutions need to come from the ground up, so I’m really tuned into expanding the community school model throughout District 34 and throughout the city.”
Gutiérrez is keen on helping pass action to democratize municipal voting, which would allow undocumented and formerly incarcerated people to cast ballots.
“I know there are a lot of arguments for and against it, but I’m really committed to it. I think just what I’ve seen on my own and what I’ve seen through (participatory budgeting), it would be very powerful. Why not uplift this community?”
For more information on District 34 Representative-elect Jennifer Gutiérrez’s record and plans for office, visit the link here.
Images provided by Jennifer Gutiérrez
For more news, sign up for Bushwick Daily’s newsletter.
Join the fight to save local journalism by becoming a paid subscriber.