‘A Defining Moment’

Lindsey Boylan on police reform, housing issues and giving moms a seat at the table

11 Jun 2020 | 11:19

Lindsey Boylan was not satisfied with what she was seeing. During her for four-year tenure working for Governor Andrew Cuomo as the Deputy Secretary for Economic Development, Boylan felt that the political process in Albany was neither progressive enough nor bold enough to meet New Yorkers’ urgent needs. And as often the only younger woman with a seat at the table, Boylan felt that women, and particularly young mothers, were vastly underrepresented in positions of power. For these reasons and others, Boylan launched a run for Congress to represent New York’s 10th congressional district, which is comprised of the west side of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. In the June 23 primary, she will be taking on the incumbent Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who has held the job for almost thirty years.

What can Upper West Siders do to help the Black Lives Matter/end police brutality movement?

This is bigger than the Upper West Side. The Black Lives Matter movement is a defining moment across the nation. I’m showing up at peaceful protests every day and doing everything I can to promote policies to end police violence like defunding the police, demilitarizing the police, and ending qualified immunity for police officers. I know I need to be a part of this and there are ways for everyone to make their own impact and find their own way into being a part of this movement.

What would you do as a Congresswoman to end police brutality?

We need leaders who will approach racist policing with urgency. The Justice in Policing Act moves some areas forward, like banning chokeholds and bringing accountability to police violence. But it also gives law enforcement hundreds of millions more in funding. I believe we should be defunding law enforcement budgets and re-allocating police funding to community alternatives like mental health first responders and investment in black communities that have been hurt by over-policing and mass incarceration.

What should leadership be doing to help alleviate these problems?

I have called for Mayor de Blasio to resign. His lack of accountability after a police vehicle ran over protesters behind a barricade proves he is not fit for the role. Federal, state, and local taxpayer dollars are funding systems that perpetuate inequality and violence against Black people. Anyone in power needs to re-allocate their budgets in a way that counters the disinvestment our Black and Brown communities have been facing for generations.

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing Upper West Side?

The number one issue in every single community board in our district has been housing. And it’s everything from issues of homelessness to severe rent burdens. Around a third of our community is extremely rent-burdened, which means if you had one bad month, if you lost your job, if you had a significant unexpected expense, you could be out of your apartment. And we see that now, in this particular moment. Because as we talk about cash relief, as we talk about unemployment benefits, the thing I’m hearing the most about is rent relief. And it’s another great example of how there’s a real mismatch between the specific kinds of policies that end up being produced at the federal level and how we actually help people in New York City.

Why do you feel you’d be a better representative than Congressman Nadler, and what would you do differently?

For me, what I saw about the political process wasn’t good enough. I was the only mom of young kids in senior staff in the governor’s administration. I felt like there is so much more that we needed to be doing, particularly policies to respond to extreme inequality. I wanted the way that I came to change, and the way that we worked as a team, to be reflected in who was on my team. My campaign manager is a mom in the district. My communications director is a mom in the district. I think almost half of our team is LGBT. The vast majority of our team is women. And there is something to be said about reflecting the diversity of your community.

Congressman [Nadler] came into office because he figured out how to manipulate the county committee for the Democratic party after [the previous congressman] Ted Weiss passed away in office. And everyone who represents me and my daughter at every level are predominantly older white men. It’s very clear in the kinds of decisions, and the kinds of policies that have been in place for decades, that the people being served are not a diversity of people.

You are a mother to a six-year-old daughter. How has being a mom changed your political views and how you approach politics?

It’s everything. I learned a tremendous amount working for the governor. But it is hard to make being a parent work in a high profile role if it’s the kind of environment that isn’t designed for families, right? And that led me immediately to absolutely demand that the team I created would respond to the lifestyle and the schedules that families have. It’s not as if I only want moms to be at the table. The complexity of the things they have to do should be reflected in the way our government works, whether we’re talking about paid leave, we’re talking about sick leave, all these things.

On your website, you said you love to fight for this district. What about the district inspires you?

I think this is the coolest community ever. The diversity of this district is fascinating. I mean we literally have the Statue of Liberty. We literally have Stonewall. We couldn’t have, to me, two more iconic representations of our district. It would be the honor of my life to represent this community. It’s, in my view, the greatest community in the country.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

“I have called for Mayor de Blasio to resign. His lack of accountability after a police vehicle ran over protesters behind a barricade proves he is not fit for the role.” Candidate Lindsey Boylan