BY AIXA TORRES, NANCY ORTIZ,
JESSICA THOMAS AND HENRY CHAN | Since her election to the City Council in 2009, Margaret Chin has been one of New York City’s most courageous progressive leaders. A member of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, Councilmember Chin deserves our praise and thanks for her numerous accomplishments on behalf of those most in need of a helping hand.
From passing landmark paid sick-leave legislation, to preventing cuts to Lower Manhattan’s after-school and daycare programs, to authoring and passing legislation to increase transparency in government, Margaret Chin has been a champion for working and middle-class families.
It’s reasons like these that explain why countless labor unions, Democratic clubs and elected officials have lined up in support of Councilmember Chin’s re-election, including the Working Families Party, Central Labor Council, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Congressmembers Nydia Velazquez, Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler and Grace Meng, Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Mark Weprin, state Senator Dan Squadron (a candidate for New York City public advocate), former state Senator Tom Duane, former Community Board 1 Chairperson Julie Menin (a candidate for borough president), United Federation of Teachers, 1199 SEIU, Hotel & Motel Trades Council, 32BJ, DC 37, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, CWA District 1, CWA 1180, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 94, Teamster Local 237, Uniformed Fire Officers Association, United Sanitationmen’s Association Local 831, Stonewall Democratic Club, Lower Manhattan Democrats, United Democratic Organization, Lower East Side Democratic Club, Harry S. Truman Democratic Club, Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, NARAL Pro-Choice NY, National Organization for Women (NOW), New Yorkers for Clean Livable And Safe Streets (NYCLASS), Street Vendor Power, StreetsPAC and many more.
Of course, the reality of Councilmember Chin’s strong, progressive record seems to be lost on a select few, including Mr. Sean Sweeney, who last week in a talking point in The Villager entitled, “The billionaires back Margaret Chin for City Council,” perpetuated the same lies, spin and propaganda that have been spread in vain for some time now. Amazingly, these are some of the same people who tried to spread rumors that Margaret was a “communist” when she first ran for office!
The hollow and desperate attacks levied against Councilmember Chin reek of petty, personal vendettas against a stellar public servant with a long and undeniable track record of delivering real, tangible results for the people who elected her to represent them at City Hall. The current attacks are so transparent, so baseless and such a stretch of the truth, that it’s clear there are ulterior motives at work here — far from genuine concern about Councilmember Chin’s embodiment of progressive values and commitment to the working and middle-class men and women she proudly represents.
In point of fact, Margaret Chin has fought vigorously on behalf of tenants’ rights. She has fought to empower tenants (not landlords and real estate moguls) against evictions, called for greater transparency and monitoring of affordable housing programs, urged for affordable housing development to keep pace with its losses and successfully negotiated the construction of 500 new, permanently affordable housing units for low- to middle-income families in the district while creating thousands of new jobs.
Time and again, Margaret Chin has publicly expressed her disapproval of outside funds being spent in the race. While this has not stopped outside interests from spending, she certainly has never accepted donations from these groups and has already said in the media that she believes independent spending has no place in politics. Unfortunately, the recent Citizens United decision has made it impossible for candidates to prevent groups from independently spending money or coordinating in their name — even when the literature put out is misspelled or inaccurate. But this reality should not take away from Margaret’s accomplishments or those of other public servants who have worked tirelessly to give a voice to the voiceless.
To quote Councilmember Chin in a recent news article, “I’m not sure what the Jobs for New York PAC thinks they’re buying by spending money on my campaign, but they won’t get it. I am only beholden to my constituents, whom I have been a progressive voice for in the City Council over the past four years.” So, while others wish to skirt the issues and turn the race for the First City Council District into a distracting conversation that ducks and dodges the real issues facing Downtowners, Margaret Chin remains more dedicated than ever to serving and standing up for her constituents.
At the end of the day, voters understand that the negative and slanderous campaign tactics employed by Jenifer Rajkumar and her supporters are a pathetic attempt to divert attention from the fact that she lacks the integrity (not to mention the experience) to hold higher elected office. No doubt, Ms. Rajkumar would prefer voters forget that she shamelessly touted a false résumé, including boasting of a phony, shell nonprofit that by her own admission has never accomplished a darn thing. This is not to mention her claiming experience as a lawyer before she had even passed the bar.
Instead of owning up to her deceptions, Ms. Rajkumar did a little housecleaning on her Web site, erased the embarrassing falsehoods and carried on with her campaign by aimlessly hurling half-truths in the direction of Margaret Chin.
Among other things, Ms. Rajkumar has chosen to publicly attack the deal reached on the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area development plan — a plan forged through years of numerous public community meetings — despite never having attended a single meeting herself. Sure, Ms. Rajkumar claims to be a champion of tenants’ rights, but when has she ever reached out to local tenant leaders?
Unlike her opponent, Margaret Chin’s commitment to Lower Manhattan is not fleeting. Long before Ms. Rajkumar chose to grace us with her presence, Margaret was an outspoken advocate in the fight for fairness and equality. She has lived and worked in the community for more than 50 years, including as a leader in affordable housing and an advocate for broader voter access and civil rights. She is also the first Chinese-American to represent Chinatown, an area where her ability to speak multiple dialects of Chinese has enabled non-English-speaking citizens access to their own elected representative in a way they have never had before.
Downtowners, and New Yorkers in general, deserve better than neophytes who parachute into their city and run for office because they sense a political opportunity, regardless of how familiar they actually are with the community.
What is telling is an early quote Rajkumar gave in a January 23, 2013, Broadsheet Daily article: She said that, whereas in Battery Park City she knew residents were concerned about hurricane preparedness and school overcrowding, she believed the top issues on the Lower East Side were “gun violence, teenage pregnancy and drugs.” Small wonder the lion’s share of her donations appear to be large donations from outside the city.
Truth be told, there is only one candidate in the race for the First Council District who has a record of standing up for working and middle-class people. That candidate is Margaret Chin. To suggest otherwise is laughable and insulting to the intelligence of the electorate. Margaret Chin’s support runs the gamut and that is why she will be re-elected to the City Council after winning the primary in September.
Our elected officials are not just as good as their word, but as good as their fulfillment of the duties they took on when they accepted their roles as public servants. Since her first day in office, Margaret Chin has kept her promise to the people of Council District 1. Her committee attendance is one of the highest in the Council, and she is known for staying through the entirety of hearings when others have left, just to hear what the public has to say. She has open office hours and takes meetings with all community groups who request it. She is, in fact, one of the most accessible members in the Council.
At a time when corruption, lies, deceit and letdown run rampant, Margaret Chin is a breath of fresh air. Here’s to four more years of progress!
Torres is president, Smith Houses Tenant Association; Ortiz is president, Vladeck Houses Tenant Association; Thomas is president, LaGuardia Houses Tenant Association; Chan is a resident, Knickerbocker Village
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this talking point incorrectly stated that Julie Menin is a candidate for public advocate.