We asked the four people running to replace current Council Member Jessica Lappin in the district that covers the Upper East Side east of Fifth Avenue and Roosevelt Island why they should get your vote.
David Paul Garland
Your number one priority on your first day in office:
The Waste Transfer Station. Because of the imminent danger of this atrocity actually becoming a reality, I will hit the ground running (actually starting on November 6th) to make sure the dump is permanently ended. This will involve working directly with the new mayor to halt all construction and to put in place the required mechanisms to have garbage continue to be shipped directly out of New York City as it is now.
What single element of your experience makes you the best candidate?
I am an independent thinker. Working in small startup firms, government organizations, global multinational firms, and non-profit volunteer organizations, I have focused on organizing teams to get to the right answer for all involved. I differ from some of my opponents who give great speeches about local issues, but whose actions, or lack thereof, show that they are more focused on gaining favor in their party than on making a real difference in the neighborhood.
What is the single most pressing issue facing the Upper East Side, and how would you tackle it in office?
Again, it's the Marine Transfer Station. This government project has been deeply flawed on every level since its inception. It is politically irresponsible, economically wasteful, environmentally reckless and there is no supportable argument for it. Our work to prevent this catastrophe has to focus on the election, by voting for responsible candidates who will not support such an ill-conceived project. This includes not supporting any mayoral candidate who has supported this project.
In your opinion, what issue affecting Upper East Side residents has been most neglected over the past 12 years?
There has been a drastic decline in the overall quality of life. It sometimes feels like a war zone, with construction, dust, noise pollution, mud, scaffolding, broken sidewalks, constantly changing bus stops and frustrated people everywhere. There's also a lack of green space, more and more construction, and neglected infrastructure. The Upper East Side now seems like the neglected neighborhood, especially on the far east side. We need a comprehensive vision for our neighborhood's future.
Imagine you have a completely free Sunday afternoon in the neighborhood - what would you do?
We're privileged to have some of the most amazing resources in the world available right in our backyards. I love running in Central Park or Carl Schurz Park, getting lost in the exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, enjoying lunch at a sidewalk café, or relaxing with friends on the Great Lawn in Central Park. These are just a few of the things that make you appreciate living in the greatest city on Earth!
From my first hour on the job, I will ensure that NYC government, particularly the land use process, is open and accountable. Too often, residents wake up to construction outside their window with no idea what is being built, how long it will take or if tax-payer dollars are financing the project. Even our current elected officials struggle to get information. I will make it my top priority to ensure that residents get information and appropriate value for our public financing dollars.
I have been representing the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island on Community Board 8 for three years. I have an established voting record that proves that I am an independent voice calling for accountability, open and green space, and community-based decision making.
The imminent building of the Marine Transfer Station at 91st Street and York Avenue is the most pressing issue facing our neighborhood. Preventing the construction at this late stage will require a strong leader who can negotiate a political solution. I am that leader. Our current elected officials, and their staff, have allowed this terrible idea to get this far. We cannot trust them to finally address it now.
The Upper East Side is the most under-served community in NYC in terms of parks and open space. While elected leaders around the City have funded magnificent water-front parks in their neighborhoods, the East River Esplanade below 80th Street has been allowed to deteriorate. With strong leadership in Council and some dedicated support, the East River Esplanade could become a city-wide destination park.
Without question, I would spend the afternoon with my family. If the weather was nice, my wife Nalika and I would likely take our son, Alex, to Carl Schurz Park so that he can practice riding his bike. If the weather wasn't cooperating, we might go to the library or play at Asphalt Green. I love the family-friendly nature of this neighborhood and will fight to keep it that way!
Former Executive Director of good government organization and attorney
As a graduate of the public high school Bronx Science, ensuring every student gets a world-class education is my top priority. There are not enough seats in our schools, overcrowding classrooms and pushing children out of their zoned schools. On my first day in office, I'd start to tackle this problem by championing innovative solutions like pop-up schools, turning our city's vacant office space into dynamic classroom space so students can get a great education now.
As Chief of Staff to Assembly Member Jonathan Bing, I was frustrated by the lack of transparency, so I came up with a plan to put voting records online. When Albany leadership refused, I created a website to post politicians' votes for the public. Now, voters and journalists can see when Albany politicians vote to give tax breaks to luxury developers, as my opponent Micah Kellner did ? instead of ensuring your tax dollars go to parks and schools.
What do you think is the single most pressing issue facing the Upper East Side, and how would you tackle it in office?
Affordable housing is a pressing issue citywide, one I will tackle so residents who have lived here for decades don't get priced out of their homes, by working to reform the 421a benefit and make subsidy applications easier. I have also proposed a five-point plan to improve quality of life along the Second Avenue Subway construction, where many of the most cost-accessible units exist, and will fight the Marine Transfer Station, which threatens our NYCHA housing.
The Upper East Side is a leader in so many ways, but we have the fewest parks and open spaces per person. Worst of all, the Marine Transfer Station threatens the few acres of parks we have along the East River. I oppose it and have proposed a recycling plan to make this harmful garbage dump obsolete. I will also demand that developers build new parks and revitalize existing ones along the East River Esplanade.
I love to exercise at Asphalt Green, where I went from overweight to triathlete, before attending services. Afterwards, my fiancée and I often get brunch in the neighborhood at restaurants we enjoy like Maz Mezcal, where we can support small business along the Second Avenue Subway construction. We then like to visit one of the many incredible cultural institutions on the Upper East Side like the Whitney or the Jewish Museum.
Micah Z. Kellner
New York State Assembly Member for the 76th District (Upper East Side, Yorkville, Roosevelt Island)
I will fight to make New York more livable for people in the middle and working class who are finding it harder to maintain their quality of life. I'll advocate policies to build and preserve affordable housing; generate middle and working class jobs; provide more funding for public education, mass transit, public health and seniors' programs; and makes City income taxes more equitable by asking those with the highest incomes to pay their fair share.
As our Assemblyman since 2007, I have a proven record of getting real results for the Upper East Side, Yorkville, and Roosevelt Island. I've brought four new public schools to the community, passed laws to protect pedestrians while punishing reckless drivers, and stopped insurance companies from price-gauging prescription drugs. I've led the fight against the ill-conceived 91st Street Marine Transfer Station by suing to stop it. I'll bring that same experience and effectiveness to bear as our Councilman.
The biggest issue is stopping the 91st Street Marine Transfer Station. I'm suing to halt it, and as Councilman I'll work to ensure it's never built. The City argues that shipping trash by barge is the ideal solution, but that technology is outdated, and we need a plan that won't destroy the quality of life for thousands of New Yorkers. I have identified several alternatives, because it doesn't belong in this or any densely populated residential community.
Our transportation needs have been neglected, with deteriorating bus service, the jam-packed Lexington Avenue subway lines, and rising transit fares. Select Bus Service is a great innovation, but needs to become more user-friendly, starting with SBS stops at 72nd Street. The Second Avenue Subway will provide a welcome new option, and as a Councilmember I will continue to fight to ensure that it is completed on-time and with minimal disruption to our quality of life.
My favorite leisure activity is going for a walk to Carl Schurz Park with my wife Marie and our dog Harvey, who loves the dog run. I would round out the rest of the afternoon by strolling along John Finley Walk on the East River Esplanade, enjoying a late-afternoon brunch at one of the dozens of outstanding restaurants in the neighborhood, then perhaps heading to the Webster library to find a good book.