In a recent drive back from Albany, Senator Liz Krueger was discussing with an intern the meaning of her work and the stamina it takes to stay positive since she loses so many more fights than she wins. In addition to inspiring her intern, she has inspired the entire Upper East Side community with her work for tenant's rights, affordable housing, improved access to health care, and her fight for women's health care equality.
"When I decided to this, I don't really think I had any idea about what the job description actually was," she explained. "I had never imagined running for office but discovered I had this secret political flag flying in my closet. Soon I realized that I did believe we needed good people to get involved with government to get good outcomes."
One of her most notable wins was during her first term when she saw the success of the Women's Health and Wellness Act. Under this act women of New York State now receive vital reproductive health coverage including prescriptive contraceptives, osteoporosis exams, and breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Since this first year in office she hasn't always seen the same success with every issue she has brought to the capital, but her incredible resilience is one of the reasons we have named her Upper East Sider of the Year. "When you are fighting big picture fights, on behalf of people or communities, the reality is you are just going to lose more than you win. I always tell my staff you need to lick your wounds, pick yourself up, and move onto the next issue," she said.
Kreuger represents District 28, which extends along the East Side of Manhattan from 10th Street up to 96th street. Ranging from the wealthiest living on Central Park West to millions of homeless New Yorkers. While balancing such a diverse district, one of her most dedicated issues has been her fight against hunger, homelessness, and the lack of affordable housing.
"I am never going to please everyone, that is just mathematically impossible. So if I have a reputation for being a proactive and responsive office, it's because we take anything that people bring to us and try to look at it from a holistic approach," she said. Working with her staff, Krueger breaks down every issue by identifying three things; is there something we can do? How can they approach this so there will be value added to the community? Finally, what can she do as a Government official to actually make change happen?
In her efforts to support underprivileged New Yorkers, Krueger has served as chair of the New York City Food Stamp Task Force, Co-Facilitator of the New York City Welfare Reform Network, and a board member on both the City Wide Task Force on Housing Court, and NYC Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Food and Shelter Program.
She has been a resident of the East Side community since 1983, and attributes her ability to relate her district so well because she has called New York home for so many years. As the young age of 25 she developed the New York City Food Bank in the South Bronx shortly after moving to New York. Her first major job, one that she jokes she was completely unprepared for, has now grown into an organization that serves close to 5.4 million meals each year to emergency food programs, senior centers, day- care centers.
"At that time I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and try to take the steps that would translate into building this non for profit organization, in hopes to feed the millions of hungry New Yorkers," she said. "A really important lesson that I learned from that experience was to just keep pushing forward no matter what you are up against."
The Senator has carried this same kind of perseverance throughout her entire career. In addition to her success on the Senate floor, the most impressive thing about Liz Krueger is her ability to really listen to the needs of New Yorkers. So many elected officials can get disconnected from the public, but in naming her our Upper East Sider of the Year we are thankful for Liz Kreugar's genuine effort to improve our community.